Daily D – 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
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 is request. 1 CHRONICLES 4:9-10 (NLT)
In an hour or so, Ollie the Border Collie and I will take a walk. We will begin our day and our week in prayer. Among the Bible verses and passages I pray through on Mondays is this one, the prayer of Jabez. Bruce Wilkinson wrote a short, well-known book by this title. His book, Secrets of the Vine based on John 15, is a superior effort.
This prayer of Jabez has been used and misused by many. Do not fear it or avoid it because of other people’s attempts to manipulate God with it. Instead, look carefully at what it says and allow it to shape your prayers.
Notice first that, “There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers.” Readers often skip this part on the way to the asking for blessings part. However, if we want God’s special blessings, then we need to live lives God can bless. Jabez lived an honorable life. He was the kind of person who honored God and served others. His first concern was not himself and his comfort. His first concern was to exalt God.
Life was hard for Jabez from the beginning. His name means Pain or Distress. Can you imagine the mockery he endured with a name like that? There is always that one kid who tends to get beat up for no fault of his own other than something peculiar like an unusual physical feature or a dorky name. Jabez was probably that kind of kid. If so, he may not have had many friends.
Jabez lived the kind of life God can bless and he prayed the kind of prayers God loves to bless with his Yes. If you were to ask for God’s blessings today, how would you go about it? Perhaps the PIERS acrostic would help.
P is for Physical. Ask God to give you the self-discipline you need to go to bed on time, to get up on time, to eat and drink the right things in the right measure, and to get the proper exercise day by day.
I is for Intellectual. Ask God to give you knowledge and wisdom, the ability to quickly understand new information and to incorporate it so that it is useful at home and at work.
E is for Emotional. Ask God to empower you to control your emotions and not to allow your emotions to control you. Ask him for an emotionally intelligent lifestyle.
R is for Relational. Ask God to give you healthy, wholesome, loving relationships.
S is for Spiritual. Ask God for a growing relationship with him that is real and vital.
Ask God for life-giving habits in each of these areas of your life. Ask him for self-discipline to keep you focused on what matters most and for self-control to flee from temptation in each area.
After submitting every area of your life to God in this manner, then ask God to extend your territory. This indicates your area of influence. How can God use you to extend his kingdom rule and reign bringing about the good life he intends for all people everywhere? Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matt. 6:10 CSB).
Then you can pray for our Father in heaven to keep his mighty hand upon you to protect you, to defend you, and to keep you moving in the right direction at the right rate of progress. Then you can ask him to keep you from all trouble and pain. Where pain come from? Most often they come from our undisciplined and sinful actions. They also come from the undisciplined and sinful actions of others. What we are asking for again is the self-discipline and self-control to keep from hurting ourselves or others, and to not be hurt by others unnecessarily.
This is how I will pray after Ollie has his breakfast, makes sure the backyard is secure, and once we have a chance to throw the tennis ball to warm up. This is a good prayer for you to commit to memory and to focus your time alone with God.
A question may come up if you ever discuss this prayer with someone. He or she may ask, “Does it work?” The simple answer is, “No.” The correct answer is, “God works in response to our prayers meant to honor him and serve others.” No true prayer is made up of magic words and formulas to take from God what he is otherwise unwilling to give.
Prayer is about relationship. It is about aligning and attuning our hearts with God’s. It is about living like Jabez who was “more honorable than any of his brothers.” It is about living a life God can bless, submitting every area of our life to him, and allowing him to bless us as he sees fit in his way and in his timing.
I will ask God to bless me as I live a life he can bless.
Our Father, bless me today that I may bless others in your name. Empower me to live the kind of life you can bless. Remind me as often as necessary that you bless me so that I may join you in blessing others. Amen.
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2 Timothy 2:3-6 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. (NLT)