|Theme: A Prayer for God’s Blessing
|Focus on: Jabez
|Reading Portion(s): 1 Chronicles 4:9,10.|
|– Important Background Information|
|– Helps you find strength in God|
|What this article teaches you|
|Many people remain victims of their circumstances. Though it is true that we have no control over the circumstances of our birth and childhood; it is not necessarily true that we cannot change circumstances that surround our future. It can be done through prayer. In spite of all negative things associated with our birth or upbringing we can still break through to a glorious future if we pray.
The Bible gives us a brief sketch of one such prayer. A man called Jabez prays for God’s blessing in his life. And he is granted that. It essentially changed his destiny. Such prayers acknowledge two things. One, it does not deny the realities that surrounded our lives in the past. The second thing is more important. It embraces the fact that our future is in God’s hands and He can shape that for our best. Such a prayer thus makes God’s glory overshadow our destiny.
The Book of 1 Chronicles begins with a long list of names. It is a place usually skipped by readers. Yet they were written with a specific purpose for the exiles who had returned to Israel after captivity in Babylon. They had lost their kingdom and they now had no king . So the people felt like a ship that was cut loose from its moorings in the harbor and was tossed about and drifting in the waves.
And to these people who were struggling to keep their faith burning and having an identity crisis as to their historical background, was this book written. Here their ancestry right from the time of Adam through the time of Abraham and to the time of David has been recorded.
This was to help the people to keep on believing in God who was holding the keys of their history. The list of names told the people that God was not only the God of their nation but of their personal lives as well. It also told them that in the midst of losing everything the nation had held precious they still could count on God to continue His merciful dealings with them as a nation and as individuals.
In the midst of these long list of names the author carves a niche for a person named Jabez. Jabez is a person who is not mentioned anywhere else in the Scriptures. We only know that he came from the tribe of Judah. Yet the reference made by the author about this man and his prayer by interrupting a long list of names gives us ample reason to believe that Jabez’s life has a lot to teach us today.
The commentary on Jabez’s life begins by telling us that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. We are not told how this man attained this honor. Was it by virtue of achieving wealth or fame he attained this honor we are not told. But we are told that the foundation of his attainment of honor was laid through his prayer to God for blessing his life.
It is very interesting to note that there was an importance attached to his name. It might have been the real motive for his praying too! His mother had given him the name Jabez saying that she had given birth to him in pain. So the name Jabez stood for pain. What more kind of pain than usual did his mother experience to name him like that we are not told. Yet we can be sure that Jabez was always reminded of pain whenever his name was called or mentioned.
But the great thing about this man is that he did not want his destiny to be ruined by his name. He wanted to be something better in life than what his name suggested. He trusted in God to change his destiny.
Therefore he prayed. He cried out to the God of Israel. His heart was bursting with his wishes. He cried out for God to bless him. His prayer for blessing included three things:
- He asked God to enlarge his territory.
- He asked for God’s hand to be with him.
- He asked God to keep him from harm so that he will be free from pain.
Jabez’s prayer for God’s blessing included a conquest of more territories. It could have been a prayer for more advancements in His knowledge of God. It could have been a prayer for more advancements in his chosen profession. Or in its most obvious sense it could have been a prayer for more advancements in the conquest of the promised land in which he lived. He might have been asking God to help him conquer more land which He had given them as an inheritance.
Jabez’s prayer for God’s blessing included the request for God’s presence. He knew that true blessing of God meant a constant presence of God with him. Jabez knew that the world and its people could easily recognize the hand of God with a man whom God had blessed. This is the true experience of a person whom God has blessed. The world is given the opportunity to see the stamp of God’s blessing in the life and work of a man God has blessed.
It was for this unmistakable impress of God upon his life that Jabez was praying for.
Finally, Jabez’s prayer for God’s blessing included the request for God’s protection. He wanted God to keep him from harm. He thus wanted God to change his destiny. His mother had named him Jabez so that there was a daily and constant reminder of pain in his life. Yet he trusted in God to get that destiny changed through prayer. He asked God specifically to remove pain from his life.
God heard the prayer of Jabez and granted his request. It teaches us that no matter what our circumstances; we can invoke God’s blessing on our lives to change our destiny. His mother gave birth to Jabez in pain; but his new destiny of honor was given birth to in prayer!