1Chronicles 4:9-10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 29, 2002

The Prayer of Jabez

The first nine chapters of 1Chronicles contain one list of names after another. We’ll talk about the importance of these lists tonight. But right in the middle of these lists, there is a short description about a unique individual. The only place we read about him in the entire Bible is in these two verses. Yet something was special enough about him that the writer Ezra felt he needed to let us know about him. The thing that made this man’s life special was his prayer life.

:9 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.

JabezYa‘bets – “sorrow”

It would seem that his mother had a difficult delivery when it came to giving birth to the baby boy, Jabez.

sorrow‘otseb – pain, sorrow

I wonder what that did to the kid as he grew up. Every time his mom called him to dinner she’d say, “Come to dinner my little pain!”

honourablekabad – to be heavy, be weighty, be grievous, be hard, be rich, be honourable, be glorious, be burdensome, be honoured

Though Jabez certainly started out life in pain and sorrow, something happened to him that made him a man of “honor”, “substance”, of “glory”.

Lesson

Glory from sorrow

This is not meant to be a message telling you how to never be sad again.
Life is going to continue to be filled with times of sorrow.
But God wants to take the sorrow and change it to something weighty in your life.
Paul wrote,

(2 Cor 4:7-11 KJV) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. {8} We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; {10} Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. {11} For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

(2 Cor 4:16-18 KJV) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; {18} While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Paul knew that God was able to take the things of sorrow and use them to produce the “eternal weight of glory”

God wants to make us “heavy” people, people with substance.

:10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying,

calledqara’ – to call, call out, recite, read, cry out, proclaim

Lesson

Prayer changes things

The root of why Jabez was “honorable” was because of his prayer.
It is important that we learn to trust God when we pray. It is important that we believe. Jesus said,
(Mat 21:22 KJV) And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

But the key to prayer is not just “faith”.

The key to prayer is learning to ask God for the things He wants to do in our lives.
Prayer is meant to be a means where God gets His will done in our lives.

(1 John 5:14-15 KJV) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: {15} And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Prayer changes things. Prayer changes me. Part of growing in life is learning to pray for the right things, finding out what God wants in my life.

What did Jabez pray for? He had four prayer requests …

:10 Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed,

blessbarak – to bless, kneel. It comes from the word for “knee”. It seems to speak of submission, obedience, and prayer. It’s goal was to cause abundant and effective life to come upon a person or a thing. In the Old Testament, the concept of the abundant life and blessing was seen as coming from God’s love and faithfulness.

bless me indeed – the Hebrew has the words doubled, something like, “Oh that blessing You would bless me”. The Hebrew does this to show intensity, to “bless me indeed”, to “really, really bless me”.

Prayer Request #1

Bless me.

God wants to bless us.  This is a difficult thing for some of us to ask for.
We feel that we are unworthy of anything good that God might do for us.
And there’s certainly some truth to that.
There’s an aspect of God’s blessings that are tied to walking in His ways.

(Deu 28:1-2 KJV) And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: {2} And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

We on the other hand, deserve God’s judgment.

We are by nature sinners.

We deserve the wrath of God, to be judged for our sins.

Yet God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to us. Jesus came to the earth for the expressed reason of dying on a cross, taking our place in judgment, paying for our sins.

When we come to believe in Jesus, God removes us from the place of condemnation and puts us in the place of blessing.

(John 3:17-18 KJV) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

When we come to trust in Jesus, we become God’s children. God wants to bless His children. Jesus said,
(Luke 12:32 KJV) Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Jesus wants to give the kingdom to all who are in His flock.

Paul wrote,
(Rom 8:31-32 KJV) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? {32} He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
God wants to bless you. God desires to bless you.

:10 and enlarge my coast,

enlargerabah – (Hiphil) to make much, make many, have many; to multiply, increase; to make much to do, do much in respect of; to increase greatly or exceedingly; to make great, enlarge, do much

coast[email protected] – border, territory

Prayer Request #2

Stretch me

It seems to me that if God is going to bless us, He also needs to stretch us to be able to accommodate the kinds of things He wants to do in and through us.
Illustration

Let’s say that you were just notified that you have won all the furniture that’s on display at Hearst Castle.

I’d say you’ve got a problem. You’ve suddenly got more furniture than you’ve got room for.

Solution? If you want to enjoy all the furniture, you’re probably going to need to knock a few walls out and expand your house!

Illustration

Someone (Nancy Spiegelberg) once wrote:

Lord I crawled across the barrenness to You with my empty cup, uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment.

If only I had known You better, I’d have come running with a bucket.

I think that God would like to do more in our lives than we are aware of.
Jesus had sent the disciples into town to get some lunch. While they were gone, He began speaking to the Samaritan woman that came to the well. She was changed by her encounter with Jesus.

(John 4:28-35 KJV) The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, {29} Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? {30} Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. {31} In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. {32} But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. {33} Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? {34} Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

The disciples only have one thing on their minds. Food. They have their minds focused on lunch. Jesus is thinking of something else.

{35} Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

As Jesus said this, the crowds of people were beginning to come out of the city, moved by what this Samaritan woman had told them about Jesus. The disciples were thinking about lunch, Jesus was thinking about people.

The only thing about being stretched is that sometimes it seems a little uncomfortable.
We like comfort. We like to know what is in our routine for the day.

But what if God wants to give you MORE than you are comfortable with?

Pray for a larger vision.
Help me to see beyond just my own needs. Help us to see beyond our little church. Help us to see God’s vision for the world.

:10 and that thine hand might be with me,

Prayer Request #3

Empower me - the Holy Spirit

The “hand of the Lord” is a phrase that we see throughout the Bible.
When it is used in reference to God’s enemies, it seems to speak of God’s acts of judgment:

Ex 7:5 And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

But when it is used in relation to God’s people, it seems to speak of the work and power of the Holy Spirit.

Eze 37:1 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which [was] full of bones,

You can also see this in 2Ki. 3:15; 1Chr. 28:19; Ezr. 7:6; Eze. 3:14,22; 8:1; 40:1.

Jabez is one of God’s children. He is asking for the working of the Spirit of God in his life.
We too need the power of God to be able to keep going.
We need the power of God to be able to do the things God has for us to do.

One of the things that God has for us is to reach others for Jesus (Mark 16:15). But that’s a pretty difficult thing. We need His power.

So Jesus told His disciples:

(Acts 1:4-5 KJV) …that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. {5} For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

With the power of the Holy Spirit, the early church reached the world.

(Acts 11:20-21 KJV) And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. {21} And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

We need to be open to all that God wants to do in us and through us.

:10 and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!

grieve‘atsab – to hurt, pain, grieve, displease, vex, wrest. This is a form of the word translated “sorrow” in verse 9. Jabez doesn’t want any more “pain” in his life than he’s already got, and he knows that evil brings about much pain and grief.

Prayer Request #4

Protect me

We are living in a time of evil.
When God begins to bless and your coasts are enlarged, the enemy will attack.
Illustration
A man is sitting at home one evening when the doorbell rings. When he answers the door, a 6 foot tall cockroach is standing there. The cockroach immediately punches him between the eyes and scampers off. The next evening, the man is sitting at home when the doorbell rings. When he answers the door, the cockroach is there again. This time, it punches him, kicks him and karate chops him before running away. The third evening, the man is sitting at home when the doorbell rings. When he answers the door, the cockroach is there yet again. It leaps at him and stabs him several times before making off. The gravely injured man manages to crawl to the telephone and summon an ambulance. He is rushed to intensive care and they save his life. The next morning, the doctor is doing his rounds. He asks our hero what happened, so the man explains about the 6 foot cockroach’s attacks, culminating in the near fatal stabbing. The doctor thinks for a moment and says, “Yes, there is a nasty bug going around.”
Sometimes, it’s not a nasty bug ringing the doorbell, it’s Satan.  And he’s out to stop you from serving the Lord.
We need to pray. Pray for me.  Pray for our church.
Prayer is part of our defense against the enemy.
Jesus taught us to pray:
(Mat 6:13 KJV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

:10 And God granted him that which he requested.

Lesson

God answers these kinds of prayers

The question is, are we praying these kinds of prayers?
Illustration
Mr. Jones Goes To Heaven
There’s a little fable about a Mr. Jones who dies and goes to heaven. Peter is waiting at the gates to give him a tour. Amid the splendor of golden streets, beautiful mansions, and choirs of angels that Peter shows him, Mr. Jones notices an odd-looking building. He thinks it looks like an enormous warehouse-it has no windows and only one door. But when he asks to see inside, Peter hesitates. “You really don’t want to see what’s in there,” he tells the new arrival. “Why would there be any secrets in heaven?” Jones wonders. “What incredible surprise could be waiting for me in there?” When the official tour is over he’s still wondering, so he asks again to see inside the structure. Finally Peter relents. When the apostle opens the door, Mr. Jones almost knocks him over in his haste to enter. It turns out that the enormous building is filled with row after row of shelves, floor to ceiling, each stacked neatly with white boxes tied in red ribbons. “These boxes all have names on them,” Mr. Jones muses aloud. Then turning to Peter he asks, “Do I have one?” “Yes, you do.” Peter tries to guide Mr. Jones back outside. “Frankly,” Peter says, “if I were you....” But Mr. Jones is already dashing toward the “J” aisle to find his box. Peter follows, shaking his head. He catches up with Mr. Jones just as he is slipping the red ribbon off his box and popping the lid. Looking inside, Jones has a moment of instant recognition and lets out a deep sigh like the ones Peter has heard so many times before. Because there in Mr. Jones’s white box are all the blessings that God wanted to give to him while he was on earth ... but Mr. Jones had never asked.
“Ask,” promised Jesus, “and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). “You do not have because you do not ask,” said James (James 4:2). Even though there is no limit to God’s goodness, if you didn’t ask Him for a blessing yesterday you didn’t get all that you were supposed to have. That’s the catch-if you don’t ask for His blessing, you forfeit those that come to you only when you ask. In the same way that a father is honored to have a child beg for his blessing, your Father is delighted to respond generously when His blessing is what you covet most.

Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez, pgs. 25-27