Asking for blessing!
There are many prayers in the Bible, some are rather long and others are remarkably brief. We can learn a lot from studying the prayers of the Bible. We can learn a lot about attitudes of the people praying, and how God responds to the prayers of His people.
Prayer is important
Faith Service Worship Vision There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds. These sessions are not about opinion, they are about learning truth, the truth contained in the Bible, together we are going to focus on how we apply God’s truth, black & white in a grey world. To set godly priorities, grow in Christian character and live according to God’s standards so that we are a living witness to others.
The basis of our belief: Session 8
Ashingdon Elim Bible Study 1 June 2010
God invites us to pray, and it was certainly modelled in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our last session we looked at the Lord’s prayer and the power of prayer. Prayer is so important we are looking at it again in this session. The purpose of this session is to introduce you to a person and a prayer that can have a significant impact on your relationship with God, we are going to look at the prayer of Jabez. “Now Jabez was more honourable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ’Because I bore him in pain.’And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ’Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 There are names in the Bible we should probably avoid giving to children, Jabez is one of them, his name is the Hebrew word for pain. Now there’s a name for you! Can you imagine walking down the street and have someone calling out Hey, Pain! Let’s go for a curry! How many friends do you think Jabez had growing up? Children can be cruel and I can imagine this man being insulted by others because of his name. Perhaps his birth must have been remarkable in the amount of pain it caused his poor mother, so she named him in such a way that would be a constant reminder of that pain. I can think of better things to remember our children for. Every time his mother called him in for dinner, she must have thought about that pain. “Hey, Pain! Dinner! Come and get it, you pain-causer!”
In context The Prayer of Jabez is interesting for it is nestled in the middle of a very long genealogy. The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are taken up with the official family tree of the Hebrew tribes, beginning with Adam and proceeding through thousands of years. After forty-four names into the genealogy the short story of Jabez appears. As soon as the two verses about Jabez are completed, the genealogy resumes in listing names. Something about this man Jabez had caused the historian to pause, clear his throat, and switch tactics. ‘Wait a minute,’ he seems to say. “You need to know something about Jabez. He stands head and shoulders above the rest!” Apparently Jabez was important, but strangely he is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. All we know is that things started badly for a person no one had ever heard of. He prayed an unusual, one-sentence prayer. And, things ended extraordinarily well. Clearly the outcome can be traced to his prayer. Something about Jabez’s simple, direct request to God changed his life and left a permanent mark on the history books of Israel. 1
some other material sign that you have found a way to cash in on your connection with Him. Instead, the Jabez blessing focuses on our wanting for ourselves nothing more and nothing less than what God wants for us.
When was the last time God worked through you in such a way that you knew beyond a doubt that God had done it? When was the last time you saw a miracle? If you desire a life overflowing with God’s anointing, then this passage will help us understand how to receive it to the fullest. Jabez, at the time of his request, was in the process of expelling the Canaanites from the land the Lord had promised Israel. He was doing the work God had given him to do, and so he was asking the Lord to help him accomplish it. You may remember that removing the Canaanites was no easy task. It was a long struggle, and in fact, some were not pushed out, because the Israelites lost heart, or turned to idols.
When we seek God’s blessing as the ultimate value in life, we are throwing ourselves entirely into the river of His will and power and purposes for us. All our other needs become secondary to what we really want – which is to become wholly immersed in what God is trying to do in us, through us, and around us for His glory. Let me tell you a guaranteed by-product of sincerely seeking his blessing: Your life will become marked by miracles. Do you feel as though you are not worthy of God’s blessings or are too insignificant to receive life’s absolute fullness?
So here we have Jabez, trying to do what God commands, and He cries out to God for help. He wasn’t just looking at his property, like the rich fool in Jesus’ parable, who had so much, he tore down his barns to hold it, not aware that God would take his life before he could enjoy his holdings.
Jabez certainly felt that he got the short end of the stick. In Hebrew, the word Jabez means “pain.” In ancient Israel a man’s name defined his future. A name was often taken as a wish for or a prophecy about the child’s future.
Jabez was asking for all that God had for him, and for God’s help in doing his part.
Despite his dismal prospects, Jabez found a way out. He had grown up hearing about the God of Israel who had freed his forefathers from slavery, rescued them from powerful enemies, and established them in a land of plenty. By the time he was an adult, Jabez believed and fervently hoped in this God of miracles and new beginnings.
Request a blessing The first key that we are going to look at in this session from the Prayer of Jabez is asking for a blessing. In verse 10 we read, “Oh, that you would bless me indeed”
Weighed down by the sorrow of his past and the dreariness of his present, he sees before him only impossibility – a future shut off. But raising his hands to heaven, he cries out, “Father, oh Father! Please bless me! And what I really mean is . . . bless me a lot.” In Hebrew, adding ‘indeed’ to this prayer was like adding five exclamation points, or writing the request in capital letters and underlining it.
Do you think it selfish to ask God for a blessing? Let’s take a look at what a blessing is. We need to understand the meaning of a blessing in order to answer this question. To bless in the biblical sense means to ask for or to impart supernatural favour. When we ask God for God’s blessings we’re not asking for more of what we could get for ourselves. We’re crying out for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only God has the power to know about or give to us.
We can ask God to bless us a lot. If we don’t ask for blessings and God’s anointing in our lives we won’t receive them. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Do you notice anything unusual about Jabez’s request for a blessing? He didn’t ask for anything specific or selfish. Notice the radical aspect of Jabez’s request for a blessing. He left it entirely up to God to decide what the blessing would be, and where, when, and how Jabez would receive them. This kind of radical trust in God’s good intentions toward us has nothing in common with the popular gospel that you should ask God for a Rolls-Royce, a six-figure income, or
James told us “You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:2) God’s bounty is limited only by us, not by His resources, power, or willingness to give. Jabez was blessed simply because he refused to let any obstacle, person, or opinion loom larger than God’s nature. And God’s nature is to bless. 2
What is hindering you from a blessing today? Is it someone else’s harsh words that have told you that you’ll never amount to anything? Is it low self esteem? Is it a misunderstanding of God’s character or a misunderstanding of how we are to pray to God?
here “because God wants us to be moving outside our boundary lines, taking in new territory for him, and reaching people in His name.”
We need to learn that God is a God of freedom from slavery and a God who wishes to grant us the blessing of a promising future, just like he did for the Israelites enslaved in Egypt.
Do you feel your life is too full already?
Is asking God to enlarge or expand your territory the same as asking him for more opportunities to serve Him? When, in faith, you start to pray for more opportunites, amazing things occur. As your opportunities expand, you ability and resources supernaturally increase, too. God enables us to accomplish great things for Him. People may show up on your doorstep or at the table next to you and say things that surprise them. They’ll ask for something – they’re not sure what – and wait for your reply. These encounters are Jabez appointments.
Asking for More Influence What do you think Jabez means by enlarge his territory? A plea for more territory is where you ask God to enlarge your life so you can make a greater impact for Him. From both the context and the results of Jabez’s prayer, we can see that there was more to his request than a simple desire for more land. He wanted more influence, more responsibility, and more opportunity to make a mark for the God of Israel.
Have you ever had a Jabez appointment? Have you ever prayed that God would use you to help someone, and then someone came to you for help? We know that when we ask God to expand our territory it means asking him for service opportunities. Choosing how to serve can sometimes be difficult for us. For most of us, our reluctance comes from getting our numbers right, but our arithmetic completely wrong.
He looked over the land his family had passed down to him, ran his eye down the fence lines, visited the boundary markers, calculated the potential – and made a decision: Everything you’ve put under my care, O Lord – take it, and enlarge it.
For example, when we’re deciding what size territory God has in mind for us, we keep an equation in our hearts that adds up something like this:
Jabez’s territory was actual land, but our territory doesn’t have to be land. What do you think is the territory that God has placed in your life?
My abilities + experience + training + my personality and appearance + my past + the expectations of others = my assigned territory
Our territory is our business or occupation. We can be a businessman, farmer, or student, but we still have a territory. A businessman’s territory is his office. A farmer’s territory is his farm and local feed store, and a student’s territory is the school and classrooms. Our territory is the social sphere of influence in which God has placed us to influence the lives of others.
We can damage growth Instead of allowing God to work “through us” often we want him to only work “in association with us”. We want him to work through our own abilities instead of through what we are not able to do ourselves. This is how God works: “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, say the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
No matter what your vocation, the highest form of Jabez’s prayer for more territory might sound something like: ‘O God and King, please expand my opportunities and my impact in such a way that I touch more lives for Your glory. Let me do more for you’. What is your main goal and purpose in life as a Christian?
Our God specializes in working through normal people who believe in a supernormal God who will do His work through them. That means God’s math would look something like:
Many would say “To give glory to God,” or “To give glory to Jesus.” If we redefine this answer and clarify it in the context of Jabez’s prayer could state we are
My willingness and weakness + God’s will and supernatural power = my expanding territory”
If you only take little steps, you don’t need God. It’s when you thrust yourself in God’s plans for this world – which are beyond our ability to accomplish – and plead with Him: Lord use me – give me more ministry for you – then you open the door for God to work miracles.
Asking for God’s hand upon us is our strategic choice to sustain and continue the great things that God has begun in our lives. What could be the reason that Jabez asked God to keep him from evil? Without doubt, success brings greater opportunities for failure. As someone once said, blessedness is the greatest of all perils because ‘it tends to dull our keen sense of dependence on God and makes us prone to presumption’.
God always intervenes when you put his agenda before yours. Amazingly, if you pray to the Lord to expand a border, you will recognize His divine answer.
Why would Jabez feel the need to ask that God’s hand be with him, or why might anyone who asks for more territory require God’s hand to with him or her?
As your life transcends the ordinary and starts to encroach on new territory for God, guess whose turf you’re invading? Satan doesn’t want you to take his territory for God; therefore he will start tempting you to sin. The further along in your life of supernatural service the more you’ll need the final plea of Jabez’s prayer. Often Christians experience attacks on them and their families. The enemy’s loves to bring distraction, opposition, and oppression to distract us from our destiny.
Whenever our territory increases we are placed in a position in which we cannot handle the responsibility on our own. It seems like it is too much or too overwhelming for us. It is at times like this that we need God’s help, or his hand.
What can be said about our Christian walk if we are not experiencing trials and temptations? Some would argue that if we are not in the battle and we are not doing anything for God we will not experiencing trials.
If we ever find ourselves in a situation in which we feel like we have too much to handle in God’s work, does this mean that we have done something wrong and we need to back out of something?
Does the statement, “keep me from evil,” provide any insight into our fight against Satan?
God’s Help and Protection Jabez asked that God would increase his territory or his sphere of influence, and now he asks that God’s hand would be with him.
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). Most Christians seem to pray solely for strength to endure temptations. Somehow we don’t think to ask God simply to keep us away from temptation and keep the devil at bay in our lives.
If we asked for more territory and God give it to us we might feel like we have bitten off more than we can chew. At times we are tempted to back out. We only want to do what we think we can handle. We try to do for God what we can do by our own means. If we act like this then we are running from dependence.
With all the legions of heaven at His disposal, even Jesus prayed for deliverance. Even with all His divine insight, when He was tempted in the wilderness, He refused to engage Satan in a discussion about his enticing offers. As we move into the realm of the miraculous, the most effective war against sin that we can wage is to pray that we will not have to fight unnecessary temptation. And God offers us his supernatural power to do just that.
The second you’re not feeling dependent is the second you’ve backed away from truly living by faith, feeling that you can’t do it on your own is often the correct feeling. It’s a frightening and exhilarating truth, isn’t it? As God’s chosen, blessed sons and daughters, sometimes we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure should be guaranteed, then God steps in!
For personal reflection Are you willing to pray the prayer of Jabez? When God answers will you act?
When we are forced to cry out to God, “Oh, that your hand would be with me,” then, we release God’s power to accomplish His will and bring Him glory through all those seeming impossibilities. 4