Scripture Reading: 1 Chronicles 4:9-5:26 / Romans 11:11-32 / Psalm 89:19-29
In 2000, Bruce Wilkinson popularized the prayer of Jabez in his book, The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life. It became an international bestseller and sold 9 million copies. Wilkinson encouraged his readers to pray the prayer of Jabez for themselves on a daily basis.
The background of Jabez is interesting. It says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” (1 Chronicles 4:9) There seems to be a great contradiction between his mother’s assessment and societies assessment of Jabez.
His mother named him Jabez, it sounds like the Hebrew word for “pain” and its literal interpretation is “he makes sorrowful”. She must have had difficulty in her pregnancy or delivery to name him Jabez. He would carry that name and image with him all of his life. There are those today who carry similar identities and cruel labels.
Yet Jabez was more honorable than his brothers…society recognized him as a man of honor. The community treated him with respect as he lived a life worthy of that recognition. Jabez could have easily “lived up to his name” by exhibiting immoral and offensive behavior but he lived an honorable and admirable life. We can live above the characterization, negativity and criticism of the past.
His prayer, “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 harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” (vs.10)
Jabez’s prayer is a simple request that God would intervene in his seemingly troubled life and reverse his condition. He desired God’s blessing and God’s provisional prosperity. He asked for God’s hand and presence to be with him; to protect him from all harm. He did not want to feel the pain or scars of his name but the presence of the name of “The Great I Am”.
This is a simple prayer from a simple man and The Almighty God granted his request. Jabez’s name did not go down in history as a man of faith or a leader among the people of Israel. In fact, Jabez is never again mentioned in the Bible. This gives us great hope…whatever name we have, there is a greater name we can call upon! “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)