Sermons

The Prayer of Jabez

Sun, Feb 16, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Duration:22 mins 52 secs

Message text

The Prayer of Jabez

1 Chronicles 4:9-10Ephesians 1:3

 

ILL. During some of the darkest days of the American Revolution, after the Continental Army had experienced several defeats, a farmer who lived near Gen. George Washington’s camp decided to pay the soldiers a visit.

 

As he approached the camp he overheard a voice raised in agonizing prayer. On closer inspection he saw Gen. Washington down on his knees in the snow, tears streaming down his cheeks, asking God for assistance & guidance. The farmer crept away & returned home.

 

Once there he said to his family, "Its going to be all right. We're going to win!" "What makes you think that?" his wife asked. "Well," said the farmer, "I heard Gen. Washington pray out in the woods today - such fervent prayer I have never heard. And God will surely hear & answer that kind of praying."

 

Such was the prayer of a man we're going to look at this morning. And he’s known for a very short prayer that he prayed.

 

If you were to turn to the first 9 chapters of the book of 1 Chronicles, you would find a list of genealogies containing more than 500 names! These names make up the official family tree of the Hebrew tribes, beginning with Adam & continuing up to Israel’s return from captivity.

 

Most names are mentioned with no comment, but there is someone mentioned in chapter 4 who stands out above the crowd. His name is Jabez. And he's not particularly remembered for what he did, but for what he prayed.

 

Listen to 1 Chronicles 4:9 (NKJV). “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’”

Do you understand what it is saying about his name? His mother named him "Jabez" because that name in Hebrew means “sorrow " or "misery" or "pain."

His mother experienced great pain when he was delivered, & she named him "Pain" so that he would never forget the pain he had caused her.

 

Children are given names for all kinds of reasons. Did you happen to read this story in the Reader’s Digest? 

Following the 1960s, San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district changed from being a "hippie" community to a high rent area. Many of the hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. So,

Santa Cruz natives soon found their children going to school with other children bearing names such as "Time Warp", "Spring Fever", "Moonbeam", "Earth", & "Precious Promise".

That’s when the kindergarten teachers met "Fruit Stand." Every fall, for the first few days of school, parents were told to pin name tags to their children's clothes, kiss them good-bye & send them off to school on the bus.

 

So it was for "Fruit Stand". The teachers thought the name on his nametag was rather odd, but they tried to make the best of it.

"Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they asked. And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. But by the end of the day, his name didn’t seem much stranger than some of the others.

 

Well, at dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. "Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?" He didn’t answer. That wasn’t strange. He hadn’t answered them all day long. Lots of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn’t matter.

 

The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children’s bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. So the teacher simply turned over Fruit Stand's tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony."

 

Jabez' name is buried in the middle of 9 chapters of genealogies.

But Jabez is like a shining star in a long list of anonymous characters. And what Jabez is remembered for is not some outstanding achievement, but for a prayer that he prayed.

 

Let’s look at it & see. Let’s see why God was pleased enough with his prayer to have it forever recorded in scripture. Listen to it.

 

(1 Chronicles 4:10, NKJV). "And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, & enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, & that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’”

 

His prayer had 4 parts: #1, He prayed that God would bless him. #2, He prayed that God would enlarge his territory. #3, He prayed that God’s hand would be with him. #4, He prayed that God would keep him from evil.

And in response to his prayer, the last part of vs. 10 says, "So God granted him what he requested” (NKJV).

If we want God to answer our prayers, then maybe we ought to take a careful look at this prayer & see why God granted Jabez what he requested.

 

I.  JABEZ PRAYED FOR GOD TO BLESS HIM

  1. The first thing we notice is that Jabez prayed for God to bless him. He wanted God’s blessing on his life.

 One man wrote: "I used to think it was selfish to ask God to bless me. Then I realized that the word 'blessed' means to have God’s favor upon your life. It isn’t selfish to ask for that; in fact, all Christians should be asking God to have favor upon their lives."

 

There is nothing wrong with praying for God to bless you if it is for the purpose of being a blessing. If you want to have more so that you can give more, then that is an acceptable prayer.

If you want wisdom so that you can help other people, then pray for wisdom, for the Bible says, in James 1:5

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, & it will be given to him.”

 

In (Ephesians 1:3) we find these words: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

 

God wants to bless His people – so it is not wrong for Jabez to ask to be blessed, & it is not wrong for you or for me to ask God to bless us either.

 

If you want success, or want to be a leader because you want to serve others with more talents & resources, then pray for those things in order that your life may be a blessing.

 

Jabez knew that God had told his ancestor Abraham in

(Genesis 12:2), “I will make you into a great nation & I will bless you; I will make your name great, & you will be a blessing.”)

And Jabez wanted to share in that blessing, too.

God wants to bless us, but we must want the blessing for the right reasons.

 

If you're not closer to God now than you were last year, then somehow you have missed a blessing. You need to pray for God to bless you & bring a new fire into your soul; a new passion for God; a new zeal for serving Him; a new desire to have your life be a blessing to others.

 

II.  JABEZ PRAYED THAT GOD WOULD ENLARGE HIS TERRITORY

You see, so many people never have a purpose larger than themselves. This is why Jabez prayed the second part of his prayer: that God would enlarge his territory.

With more land he could grow more crops, employ more workers, give more to the needy, & provide for an extended family & for strangers that come his way, as the Law required.

As an honorable man, He was not thinking only of himself, he was thinking about the welfare of others. Jabez was asking to be used by God.

Are you living only for yourself, or are you wanting God to use your life for His glory? Do you want to be blessed by God in order to be a blessing?

How many ways can you think of that God could enlarge your territory?

One of the things I'm praying about for my children and grandchildren is that God would bless them in order that they might be used by Him in this world. I'm praying that they will have a passion for God, & that He will give them the necessary tools to serve Him.

 

I'm also praying that prayer for you and I. I want us to be God’s people, being used by him in a world that needs Him desperately.

I want us to live for more than ourselves & our own interests. I pray that our lives will be used in serving God by serving the needs of others. I want to be a part of what God wants to do in this world.

 

In a time of great discouragement, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah in (Isaiah 54:2) saying, “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”

 

God wants us to see beyond our circumstances to what can be accomplished if we will join in seeking His blessing.

 

III. JABEZ PRAYED FOR GOD'S HAND TO BE WITH HIM

Thirdly, Jabez prayed for God’s hand to be with him. Jabez knew that what he was praying for was bigger than what he could accomplish by himself.

He was praying for something so big that only the hand of God on his life could accomplish it.

 

It has been said that “God answers prayer in 4 ways:

‘Yes,’

‘No,’

‘Wait a while’        &           ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’”

And I think that there are times when I pray that God answers, “You’ve got to be kidding, Mark.

You think that will work?

I can see the end result, & if we do that it would defeat everything you’re trying to do.”

So, our prayers should always include “not my will, but yours be done.”

I think we should all pray, "Lord, let your hand be with me" because when God’s hand is upon us – we do not need to be afraid. God wants to take care of us.

Shouldn't we ask for His care? Shouldn't we ask for His presence in our lives?

Psalm 37:23-25 says: 23 The steps of a good man are [a]ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.

God wants to walk with us. Shouldn't we pray for His presence in our lives?

 

IV.  JABEZ PRAYED THAT GOD WOULD KEEP HIM FROM EVIL

But the final part of Jabez’s prayer is the most important: Jabez prayed that God would keep him from evil.

“Keep me from evil that I might not cause pain."

I understand that! His birth had caused pain, & his name meant pain. But he didn't want to cause any more pain to others.

He wanted his life to be a blessing.

 

Jabez wanted to be protected from evil, because he knew that sin causes pain in the life of the one who commits it, & it brings pain into the lives of those who are victims. But most of all, sin brings pain to the heart of God.

Do you remember what the Bible says the world was like just prior to the flood in Noah’s day? 

Genesis 6:5-6 says that, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, & that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."

Then it says, “The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, & His heart was filled with pain.” Sin brings pain to the heart of God.

 

I think that perhaps the greatest evidence of the pain that sin brings is the cry of Jesus as He hung upon the cross for us,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Can you imagine not only the suffering of Jesus, but also the suffering of the Father as He turned away from Jesus because of our sins?

 

During the depression years a Texan by the name of Yates owned a sheep ranch. But he just wasn’t making enough to pay the principal & interest on the mortgage, so he was in danger of losing his ranch.

With little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others at that time) had to live on a government subsidy.

 

Then one day a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area & told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, & he signed a lease with them. That well came in at 80,000 barrels a day.

 

Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large. And Mr. Yates owned them all. The day he bought the land he had received the oil & mineral rights too. Yet for years he’d been barely surviving on welfare.

 

A multimillionaire living in poverty! His problem? Even though he owned all the mineral rights on his land, he just didn’t know the oil was there.

 

 

Many today are living in spiritual poverty because they just don't realize

how much God loves them;

that through Jesus He is ready to forgive their sins,

and that he desires to bless their lives with a peace that the Bible says "passes all understanding."

 

Today, we have the opportunity to be obedient to God’s plan of salvation:

Repenting of our sins and being baptized for the remission of our sins to walk in newness of life.

 

INVITATION: Will you come, seek His blessing, & feel the hand of God working in your life?

As we stand and Sing the song of Invitation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributing Sermon Given

By Melvin Newland

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