<<a man who prayed>>
This OT man is singled out from a list of men because of his recorded prayer, not his actions. Although a short prayer, it covered several specific points. “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from evil’. And God granted his request”. His story is only told in 1 Chronicles 4:9,10.
Lessons from his life: * “His mother called him Jabez [pain and trouble], because she gave birth to him in pain” (1 Chr 4:9). Yet he refused to allow the past or the limiting opinions of others to define him. He believed in God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Eph 3:20).
* He asked for personal blessing. We often say, ‘God bless’ to others, desiring that they be given divine grace and preferential treatment. Follow Jabez’ example and appeal to our gracious Father on your own behalf to receive supernatural divine favour, to have what God wants to impart to you. The Bible says, “Ask and you will receive” (Mt 7:7,8). God responds to those who earnestly ask for what He wants to give them. This is not a selfish request if the motive is that others will benefit with their lives being enriched. How can we effectively give out to others if we ourselves have nothing of the Lord to share because we are destitute of His blessing? Although such blessing can include physical provision, Godly character attributes are more desirable.
* He wasn’t content with his present level of ‘ministry’ so he asked for an increase of opportunities in his sphere of influence, to expand the divine calling so through him there would be a greater impact for God. He believed there was more – ‘I was born for more than I am currently experiencing’. Am I satisfied with what I am ‘accomplishing’ in the Kingdom of God or do I want to take more territory from the enemy?
* “Let your hand be with me…” He voiced his dependency on the Lord, ‘I can’t do it without you – please partner with me’. This was not a glib ‘bless me’ but rather a heart cry for an intimacy and anointing, with a release of God’s power to do His will and bring Him glory through the situations of life. This needs to be an ongoing cry of our hearts, to sustain and continue the great things God has begun in our lives, for we need a continual infilling of the Holy Spirit that turns certain failure, if undertaken in our own strength and ability, into the miraculous. In dependency ask for the Father’s hand to be on our lives every day, tapping into His power to guide our thoughts, words and actions and work in the supernatural realm to accomplish what we are incapable of as it is only by the Holy Spirit that real spiritual work is achieved (Zech 4:6).
* “Keep me from evil [or harm]” is reflected in the model prayer Jesus gave, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt 6:13). The emphasis is on avoiding, rather than resisting temptation. Without a temptation, we won’t sin; so the best strategy is not to play in Satan’s backyard – keep out of it so you will not have to fight unnecessary temptation. Remember we are often most at risk of slipping, after a spiritual high (when having a wrongly elevated view of our strengths) or else when emotionally and physically exhausted. Be prepared to confront spiritual attacks, and have on the spiritual armour, especially when making offensive entry into his territory (2 Cor 10:4; Eph 6:11-20).