Right in the middle of a long list of the family of the tribe of Judah, one man stood out. His name was Jabez, meaning sorrow or trouble. The Bible tells us that He was a man of prayer and the most respected member of his family. His mother had given him the name Jabez because his birth was very painful.
In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, Jabez was noted for his godliness—for his honorable character. He knew that God was the ultimate Provider; and he fervently prayed that God would protect and provide for him. God answered his prayer.
Apparently Jabez had told others about his answered prayer, and that was the one thing for which he was remembered. There is no other mention of him anywhere in the Bible. He is remembered for a prayer request rather than a heroic act.
In his prayer, Jabez asked God:
- To bless him,
- To help him in his work (“extend my lands”),
- To be with him in all he did, and
- To keep him from trouble and pain.
What Lesson Can We Learn from this Prayer?
The Bible obviously did not tell us what necessitated this prayer—whether it was because of suffering or crisis. But one thing we know from reading this passage is that Jabez was a human being like us, who believed God. Like many of us, he acknowledged God as the true center of his work; so he made an earnest appeal to God for a blessing and it was granted.
Although his prayer may have lacked the vow found in other prayers of this type—like that of Jacob (cf. Genesis 28:20)—but what we see in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 seems to be teaching that God listens to and acts on behalf of those who sincerely implore Him. Whatever the kind of undertaking which roused his anxieties, Jabez prayed specifically to be protected from trouble and pain. And God, in this instance and in His infinite mercy, proved that He was not only the hearer, but the answerer of prayer; and Jabez enjoyed a remarkable degree of prosperity.
As Christ’s followers, we must understand that we live in a fallen world filled with wickedness and sin; and for this, it is important we ask God in our prayers to keep us safe from the unavoidable evil that comes our way. But we must also avoid evil motives, desires, and actions that begin within us.
When we pray for God’s blessing, not only must we seek God’s protection from evil, but we must also ask God to guard our thoughts and actions. We must ask Him to take His rightful position as Lord over our work, over our family time, and over our recreation. As His children, we can begin to utilize His protection by filling our minds with positive thoughts and attitudes. Because He loves us so much and cares for us, the Lord is always concerned about the everyday needs of His people. Thus, obeying Him in our daily responsibilities is heroic living.
Choosing to live a life apart from Jesus Christ is making a commitment to sin—and Sin leads to judgment and death (cf. James 1:14, 15). Only the Lord can show us the way to eternal peace. He is Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and His discipline often keeps us on the right path.
Like Jabez, we must learn to depend on God and put our hope in Him alone. Depending on the Lord is basic to the Christian life. When we trust in, or depend on the Lord for our needs—for everything (Psalm 104:27) and in everything (Proverbs 3:5–6), He will never disappoint us. He will never fail us, because He promised that whatever we ask in His name that He will do it (John 14:13, 14). All we are required to do is to believe that He is more than able to help us, and then pray to Him (Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24), and faithfully wait on Him to act.
God is our helper; He is the upholder of our lives (Psalm 54:4). He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer (Psalm 18:2). He alone protects and saves us; He is our defender, and we will never be defeated (Psalm 91). He will provide for us; He will meet all our needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). We must call upon Him for all our needs, and He will answer us—but at His own time—according to His will. To Him who by means of His power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of: to God be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).
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