And Jabez was more honorable then his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
What was it that made Jabez’s prayer so effective? This prayer is in the most unusual place, in the middle of a genealogy. This small prayer in the midst of the family record suggests prayer should to be in the center of every family. This prayer is short, but it is effective. God is not concern with the length of our prayers. He is not concern how eloquent we can pray. God is concern with the condition of our hearts. We are familiar with the parable Jesus gave concerning prayer. A Pharisee and publican went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed with himself, but the publican prayed a prayer of mercy. It was the publican went left the temple justified (Luke 18:10-14).
Three things made Jabez’s prayer productive:
- His Situation
- His Character
- His Motives
Israel had not long return home from their 70 years of captivity. Zerubbabel led the first wave of Jews back home and they rebuilt the temple. Many years has elapse and the temple was still incomplete (Ezra 1; 6). The land was desolate. It lay lifeless. The land was in ruins. Israel returned to a land that was once prosperous, but now is a wasteland. The Chronicles records how Israel was before the captivity and how they were after they return.
Before the captivity, they were a prosperous people; afterward they were a perplexed people. As long as Israel was a prosperous nation, they ignored God. As soon as the Lord chastised them, they would cry out unto Him. With the restructuring effort continuously going on, Jabez prayed to the God of Israel. He looked at his situation and at the inhabitants of the land and concluded he needed a blessing.
V9. And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren:
Jabez was a man of a good character. He was honorable, religious, and intelligent leader. In biblical history names defines the person character. The name Jabez means sorrow. In this case, Jabez name did not reflect who he was. He lived a respectable life among his peers. God and Ezra admired the sincerity of Jabez, because God lay upon Ezra heart to put this prayer in the middle of a list of names. The text indicates he was a noble man to point that a city in Judah was named Jabez (1 Chronicles 2:55).
We have to live the life that is pleasing to God. We should live our lives so it would glorify God. We should try to do what is right not for the blessing of God, but out of obedience and the love we have for God. Sure, we may fall short at times, but God honors the effort we make to do what is right.
(Matthew 5:16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
Jabez was faithful in his dealings. He took care of the land in which was all ready under his control. If we desire greater things from God, then we have to be faithful with the little that he gave us.
(Matthew 25:21) His lord said unto him, well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord.
Jabez was an intelligent leader. He was among the scribes. The families of the scribes dwelt in the city of Jabez. Scribes were men who were doctors of the law. Jabez was knowledgeable of the God and his Word. He had to know the God of Israel even just pray to Him. He did not try to take it upon himself to achieve the enlargement of his coast by going to his friends, family, or any act of political strategies, but he went to God. In this case, we can say prayer changes things. The text does not say if things changed immediately or if it took a while, but we do know it change.
V10. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast…
He knew God and he knew what God could do for him. Jabez under stood that God was the only one who could supply his needs. The indeed indicates, he prayed sincerely and without doubting. If we desire results from our prayer, we must be sincere and believe what we are praying without doubting God.
(Matthew 21:21, 22) Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea” it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Before we can ask God of anything, we must first have a relationship with Him. We must believe He is Sovereign, and the Almighty God, to know what can and will do for us. Jabez prayed, because he stood in the need of a blessing. Thus, Jabez prayed to God and in the will of God. The known facts of the Scriptures are Judah’s return from captivity, there is land destroyed and the people are without sufficient living space. Therefore, the coast broadening of his coast was a necessity. He did not pray according to his own will, but to the will of the God of Israel.
There are many who are praying to God out of their own will. One should examine the motives for seeking the blessing of God. Material gain does not bring happiness. If Jesus Christ is the center of your life, then you can have joy way down on the inside. Are you seeking the blessing so you can walk in your pride, saying, I am blessed, or are you seeking the blessings of God so that you may be a blessing to others. It is good to have material blessing, but that is not all there is to God.
Matthew 6:32b, 33 - …for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
It is a matter of priority. Seek God, the One who is able to bless you according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:18). Some people use Ephesians 3:20 for motivating blessing. If we would discover the context and the setting in which it was written, we would find that the church was going back to their old ways and wanting what their surrounding community had to offer. Paul was exhorting our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and unity in the faith.
Say you have a situation, for example, you are doing the best to maintain your house. You got the roof fixed; now it need to be tuck pointed, the plumbing sprung a leak and you just cannot keep up with it all. You can pray and ask God just for the kind of house you want.
The coast does not have to be anything material. It can be to enlarge our heart, to enlarge our ministries, enlarge our gifts that we may be better servants for God and for the Body of Christ.
…and that thine hand might be with me,
How interesting in the middle of his prayer, he asked for the presence of God. This is the pivotal point in his prayer and possibly moved God to answer his prayer. This prayer was not just about enlarging the coast, but having God active in his life. God’s presence is universal. No matter where we go, He is there. If we go to the lower part of the earth, He is there. If we go beyond the limits of the sky, He is there. If there are some UFO’s, there are under the mighty hand of God. He asked his coast to be enlarged, but it all would be for nothing, if God were not with him. We can prosper beyond our imagination, but if we do not have the presence of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit working within us, then it is all for nothing. So many Christian have prospered, but they have lost their focus. Some Christians pray for blessing, but fail to ask for the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Figuratively speaking, when we have the mighty hand of God with us, (His Holy Spirit), he will guide us what to do with our blessing. He blesses us that we maybe a blessing to others. He will comfort us. He will protect us. He will give us strength. When His presence is working within us, he gives us power to do the work He has assign us to do.
If we seek the wisdom of God and His presence, he just might add all these things to your life without you asking for it. He knows our every need and desire. Remember King Solomon and what he asked for in his prayer. Because, he asked for wisdom and an understanding heart, God granted him all the other things.
(1 Kings 3:9-12) Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies’ but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to they words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honor: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.
…and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!
Notice here, Jabez did not pray that evil would not come or trials and tribulations would come his way, but that it would not burden him. Jabez observing his situation, it was obvious he may have to labor or even experience some hardships, but it will not trouble him. Some blessing we have labor for to get. We want the blessings, but we do not want the responsibility that comes along with them. In our modern times, people exhort the idea they will not have to endure affliction. I hate to disappoint you, but there will be some tribulations, because Jesus said there would be some.
(John 16:33) These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Trials and tribulations will come to make you strong. Each time we going through a test, it should increase our faith. If we never go through the fire, we would remain as babes in Christ. The results of the test bring wisdom and faith in God. While going through trials and tribulations, God will keep us. He will sustain us. Sometimes you may feel like the devil has defeated you, or feel over whelmed. Some questions are raised, what you are doing. Do you trust in yourself or do you trust God?
(Proverbs 3:5) trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.
God protection is evident. He has kept you and He will continue to do so. Give it all to Jesus. He says
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
God’s divine protection and presence shall deliver us from all evil. If the devil wants to do anything, he must go through God first. Jabez ended his prayer with divine protection that again his lifestyle would not reflect what his name means, sorrow. The request Jabez made pleased the Lord. The structure of the prayer suggests Jabez had his priorities together. Primarily he was sincere. He believed God and asked for His presence. It suggests to us that if we seek first Kingdom of God all these other things will be added. Everything that Jabez encountered he was successful. God is always ready to hear and answer our prayers.
And God granted him that which he requested.