A few months ago, a friend of mine lent me this book. It all about a small part of the Bible and a character that you could easily just whizz past, sitting as it does in a long list of other names. But among all of those names, Jabez gets a special mention:
“There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.”
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NLT
I won’t paraphrase the whole book but essentially what Jabez was praying was:
- Father, bless me today in the way that YOU KNOW I NEED TO BE BLESSED so that I can be a blessing to others
- Let all that I do be done through your power, through an anointing of your Holy Spirit
- Keep sin and temptation away from me so that I can be fully effective in my ministry
Seems like a lot from such a short verse doesn’t it? However, I’ve been praying variations on this short prayer almost daily since reading the book. And it works!
- A deepening of my faith and etionship with my Abba Father
- Doors of opportunity open at work
- A huge increase in preaching opportunities with other churches
- A deepening of faith conversations with non-believers that I know
And lots of other small, daily things too.
A word of caution: These blessings don’t often look like we imagine they will! But the most important things is that it all has to be done in God’s way not ours. We have to trust him from a standpoint of abandoning everything to him. To trust that he knows the blessings we need. And then to ask, to seek, to knock for the things that he wants to give us.
OK it’s easy to be cynical and say that the changes I’ve seen might have happened anyway. That my praying the Jabez prayer has just made me frame regular life events in the light of that prayer. To look for answers to it. All I can say in response, is that I have no idea how prayer works. And for that matter, other than through the lens of their own experience, neither does anyone else. But I believe that it does and more doors have opened since praying like Jabez than they did before. I believe that as we pray this way it opens us up, in a special way, to receiving all of the blessings that our Father has for us.
I’ll end with a story:
There’s a short story in the book of a guy (it may well have been the author) that had a vision. In the vision, he saw an huge warehouse with millions of shelves. Each shelf was named for one of us and was stacked high with all of the blessings that God wanted to give that person each day.
Sadly, there were many, many blessings which has not been asked for and which, as a result, had not been given. All of those opportunities to grow, to develop and to bless others, not received. All of those opportunities to change the world missed.
Like the author, I don’t want to end any more days with blessings left on that shelf. And so that’s why I’m praying every day, like Jabez did…
“Father God, bless me and increase my territory!”
I hope you can too – and be blessed as a result.