Prayer of Jabez

 

Why I Like the Prayer of Jabez

Praying the prayer of Jabez is really getting popular recently. It is a simple Old Testament Prayer found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Jabez simply asked God to bless him, enlarge his territory, keep His hand on him, and keep him from evil--a great four-part prayer. Many Christians now pray the prayer of Jabez every day. I like the prayer, too. Here's why

 

1. God really does want to bless us.

God is not some sort of divine scrooge-in-the-sky reluctant to bless His children. He wants to give His children bread and fish, not stones and snakes. Some of the students I teach think God is a stones-and-snakes God--that He is looking for ways to make their lives miserable, like call them to go somewhere they'll hate living and eat things that will turn their stomach. It's refreshing for them to know God wants to bless them and extend their territory.

 

2. Asking for a bigger ministry is not wrong.

Jabez asked God to extend his territory. In that culture his prayer was about getting richer--having more land and herds. But people such as Walk Through the Bible's Bruce Wilkinson have interpreted this to be praying for a larger and broader ministry--greater opportunity to serve the kingdom. I like that. Many of the students I teach are praying the prayer of Jabez daily. Most of them are burned out on the Baby-Boomer success culture. Some have so rejected boomer success culture that they glorify small ministries and tiny churches, and think themselves heroic if they get a bi-vocational church--where they will have to work full time to support themselves. The prayer of Jabez reminds them that at least some of the Boomer success mind-set is OK; God might really want to use them to minister to thousands, not just a dozen.

 

3. When we constantly ask for God's blessing we are more likely to give Him credit when blessing comes.

I've noticed that just as many "miracles" happen to people who seldom ask for them as to those who are always asking God to do miracles. But I've also noticed that those who pray for them are more prone to give credit to God when they happen. Others call it a coincidence or attribute the miracle to natural causes. They both thank God, but only one gives God the direct credit. The same is true of blessings. God blesses whom He wills. He blesses those who ask for it, and those who don't. He even blesses unbelievers. So why ask God to bless me? Because when I ask God to bless me, and do that regularly, I am far more likely to give Him credit when those blessings come.

 

4. Of all the prayers in the Bible, this one is especially attuned to today's culture.

Today's culture, especially our church culture, has especially discovered the Jehovah-Jirah God -- the God who is my personal provider. This side of God is waiting to bless me and make me a blessing. This side of God wants to make me successful, expand my ministry, help me achieve financial security, make my life fulfilling--and even wants me to ask Him to do this. Most Christians today are less concerned with hooking up with God's plan, than we are in getting God to bless our plans. While there is a down side to all this God-as-provider thing, it is definitely a side of God which sells best to our self-occupied culture. At least it gets them praying.

 

5. I like the idea of a ritual prayer.

I was raised in a church where only extemporaneous prayers were considered spiritual. They thought reading a prepared prayer was cold and formal. However, I've found there is a power in regularly praying the same prayer over and over again, mantra-like. Such ritual repetition has a powerful impact on the person praying. I've seen this in my own life.

 

Why I don't pray the Prayer of Jabez

Oh, I don't mean I'm against it, or think it is a bad prayer. I just don't pray it as my daily ritual prayer. Here's why:

 

  1. I prayer another daily ritual prayer.
  2. When I discovered some years ago that pretty much all the first Christians prayed the Lord's Prayer every day--three times a day--I thought I'd try that, too. These first Christians thought Jesus really meant it when he taught the disciples to pray that prayer. I had always been told he meant "pray something like this." But I found out just about all the first Christians thought Jesus really meant, "When you prayÖ" So they prayed that exact prayer (well they added the ending, but that improved it). So I started praying the Lord's prayer three times a day--at each mealtime. Then I added two more (as the later Christians did) to get the routine up to five times a day--on rising and going to bed. It changed my life. I didn't get a huge ministry with 90 employees out of it or become famous, or anything like that. But it has so altered my life that I'm not about to exchange the Lord's Prayer for the prayer of Jabez. How has it changed me?

     

  3. This prayer has made me think less about myself.

The more I pray the Lord's Prayer, the less I think about myself. I keep praying about God and others, more than me. I wind up praying for--and thinking about afterward--God's name being hallowed, God's Kingdom coming, about people doing God's will on earth, about God giving us (not just me, but us) daily bread, I wind up praying about forgiving our sins, about we forgiving others, about protecting us from temptation and delivering us from the evil one. The longer I've prayed this prayer, the more I think about others. That's a good thing for me and my generation, and maybe even younger folk too. I'm a bit too preoccupied with me and my needs and my ministry. I need to be more concerned with God's kingdom and the needs of other people. Praying the Lord's Prayer three or five times a day is gradually shifting my thinking toward God's concerns, not mine. The longer I pray this prayer the more my mind and heart are bending away form me and my life, and toward God's kingdom, the world, and the church.

 

Maybe that's why Jesus didn't teach His disciples to pray "The Prayer of Jabez" but He taught them to pray the Lord's Prayer. Of course we can pray them both. Or we can pray many other wonderful prayers in the Bible. But as for praying a daily ritual prayer--I think I'll stick with the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. Who knows, maybe Jesus' prayer is better than the prayer of Jabez.

 

So, what do you think?


So what do you think?

To contribute to the thinking on this issue e-mail your response to Tuesday@indwes.edu

February 2001. Revision suggestions invited. May be duplicated for free distribution provided these lines are included.

Other "Thinking Drafts" and writing by Keith Drury -- http://www.indwes.edu/tuesday


 

 

Significant Old Testament Prayers *

Abrahamís Intercession for Sodom & Gomorrah Genesis 18:23-33

Daniel's Prayer Daniel 9:4-19

David's Prayer for Protection Psalm 3

Davidís Prayer for Favor Psalm 4

Davidís Prayer for Guidance Psalm 5

Davidís Prayer for Mercy Psalm 6

Davidís Prayer from Persecution Psalm 7

Davidís Prayer for Godís Help Psalm 13

Davidís Prayer Psalm 23

Davidís Prayer For Trust Psalm 25

David's Prayer & Fasting Psalm 35

Davidís Prayer For Forgiveness Psalm 51

Elijah's Prayer for the Widowís Son 1 Kings 17:20-22

Elijah's Prayer at Mt. Carmel 1 Kings 18:36-39

Elishaís Prayer 2 Kings 6:15-18

Esther and the Nation of Israel Prayer & Fasting Esther 4 & 5

Ezra Prayer & Fasting 8:21-23

Hannah's Prayer for a Child 1 Samuel 1:10-12

Hannah's Prayer of Thanksgiving 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hezekiah 2 Kings 20

Jacobís Deliverance From Essau Genesis 32:9-12

Jacob At Peniel Genesis 32:24-30

Jehoshaphat For Deliverance 2 Chronicles 20

Jonah Jonah 2:2-9

Moses Intercession For His People Exodus 32:11-13 32:31-32

Moses Intercession For Miriam Numbers 12:13

Moses and the Lord Exodus 33:12-13 Exodus 33:18

Moses Exodus 33:15,16

Moses & Promise Land Deuteronomy 3:24-29

Moses & Israel Deuteronomy 9:26-29

Moses' 40 Day Prayer Deuteronomy 9:18-20; 9:25-29

Nehemiah's Prayer & Fasting Nehemiah 1:3-11

Nehemiah and Israel Prayer & Fasting Nehemiah 9:1

Samson Judges 16:28

Solomon's Prayer for Wisdom 1 Kings 3:6-9

Solomon's Prayer to Dedicate the Temple 1 Kings 8:23-61

Significant New Testament Prayers

Jesus Temptation & Fasting Matthew 4:1

Jesus Praying in the Wilderness Matthew 6:6

The Lord's Prayer Matthew 6:9-13 & Luke 11:2-4

Jesus to the Father John 12:27-28

Jesus Prayer of Thanksgiving Matthew 11:25-26

Jesus Prayer for Lazarus John 11:41-42

Jesus High Priestly Prayer John 17

Jesus in Gethsemane Matthew 26:39 & 42

Jesus at the Cross Luke 23:34, 46 Matthew 27:46

Apostles For Divine Direction Acts 1:24,25

Apostles & Believerís Prayer Acts 4:24-31

Stephen for His Murderers Acts 7:60

Paul His First Plea Acts 9:6

Cornelius' Prayer & Fasting Acts 10:30-31

Early Church Praying & Fasting for Paul & Barnabas Acts 13:1-3

Paul For the Corinthians 2 Corinthians 13:7

Paul For the Ephesians Ephesians 3:14-21

Paul For the Philippians Philippians 1:9-11

Paul For the Colossians Colossians 1:9-17

 

Significant prayers of the Bible -- from an unsolicited undocumented E-mail .