Scripture has many examples of prayers that teach us to depend on God and call upon Him. The prayer of Jabez is one of them but not for the reason that most people think. Jabez was not using prayer as a formula to get something from God.
Several years ago the book The Prayer of Jabez was on the New York Times bestseller list. In the two years after it was published in 2000 it had sold over 9,000,000 copies. I don’t know what the number is today but it may be well over 10,000,000 copies. I never bought a copy and I’ll tell you why later.
For those of you who bought a copy I hope that it was of some help to you. Like I said I have never read the book but here’s a description from the publisher;
It’s a timeless prayer that produces timely results! Bruce Wilkinson, the author, takes readers to 1 Chronicles 4:10 to discover how they can release God’s miraculous power and experience the blessings God longs to give each of us. The life of Jabez, one of the Bible’s most overlooked heroes of the faith, bursts from unbroken pages of genealogies in an audacious, fourpart prayer that brings him an extraordinary measure of divine favor, anointing, and protection. Readers who commit to offering the same prayer on a regular basis will find themselves extravagantly blessed by God, and agents of His miraculous power, in everyday life.
Again I’m not criticizing anybody that bought the book and really tried to follow the book’s formula for prayer. It gave instructions on how to pray for God’s blessings.
If the Prayer of Jabez book is right and you did it like the book says then everything you prayed for should have happened right? If it didn’t then you must have missed a step in the program.
That's not what prayer is it's not programming some machine to spit out goodies. Prayer is a relationship, it's a lifestyle, is a conversation with our heavenly father
Jabez wasn’t asking for material blessings he was calling upon God to accomplish His promises.
For a proper interpretation of his prayer, it should be read through a spiritually sound lens, not one of materialism.
God’s blessings are the real things that produce real effects. We can but wish a blessing: He commands it.
The enlargement of territory Jabez prayed for was deeply connected to the landscape of his heart. He left many disciples behind, not possessions. The territory of his heart expanded and overflowed to those around him.
1 Chronicles 2:54-55 (NKJV)54 The sons of Salma were Bethlehem, the Netophathites, Atroth Beth Joab, half of the Manahethites, and the Zorites.55 And the families of the scribes who dwelt at Jabez were the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and the Suchathites. These were the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.
Supposed to be the son of Kenaz, and an eminent doctor of the law, whose reputation drew around him so many scribes and learned men that a town was called by his name - The Pulpit Commentary
Jabez prayed for God to be with him. He also prayed God would protect him from being a Jabez! There is an allusion to his name.
1 Chronicles 4:9 (NKJV)9 Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain."
The Hebrew name Jabez means "he makes sorrow". In other words he prayed: “That he would keep him from evil, the evil of sin, the evil of trouble, and all the evil designs of his enemies, that they might not hurt him, nor grieve him, nor make him a Jabez indeed, a man of sorrows
Five Lessons Jabez Teaches Us
Excerpted from The Prayer of Jabez - 5 Inspiring Lessons
1. The very first thing Scripture tells us about Jabez is that he cried to the God of Israel. Jabez states God’s lordship and headship over his life. When you pray, begin by acknowledging who God is!
2. “That you would bless me” Jabez not only recognizes God as the one and only true God, he also acknowledges that blessings come from God alone. Are you chasing broken promises and blessings that the world tries to entice you with? Are you striving toward prosperity on your own strength? When you pray, do it with a heart fully invested in the blessings of God.
3. “that you would multiply my territory” – Many think that Jabez is simply referring to physical land when asking to multiply territory. However, if we look at the lineage of Jabez we can understand that he is not merely speaking in terms of wealth and prosperity but in terms of impacting the kingdom of God. He wanted his spiritual territory to increase, to claim generations for the Lord of Israel. Do you need to claim or reclaim some of the land Satan has taken from you? When you pray, ask God to multiply your territory and to do more through you!
4. “your hand be with me” – Jabez wanted God to be in every moment of his day. He understood the power of God’s hand to protect and to lead in the right direction. Blessings will become curses if it is not God's hand providing and guiding. When you pray, request more than blessings and provision but that God’s hand would lead you through any circumstances and trials that come your way. THAT is the greatest blessing.
5. “keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain” The name Jabez literally means “born with pain”. His own mother named him this because of the pain she endured in labor! When Jabez prays, he speaks against the testimony of his name and lets go of the shame it covered him in. When you pray, come to God vulnerable and ready for Him to turn your weakness into His glory.
Tips to Pray like Jabez
- Praise God for who He is. Remember specific answers to prayer, list virtues of His character, and ask to for Him to reveal more.
- Ask God to give us a heart like Jesus and increase the use of our lives to spread the gospel.
- Acknowledge God’s power and reign. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be manifested in our daily lives.
- Pray for God to guard our hearts and for His protection from every evil, both seen and unseen.
- Pray everything in Jesus’ name. Express the desire to align every intention with God’s will.
A Sample Prayer like Jabez’s
You are God of the universe, and my Creator. All creation, and all I am, exist to honor You. Thank You for delivering me from evil, and restoratively setting my feet on the firm foundation of Your truth. Mold in me a heart like Jesus’—compassionate and forgiving. With the gifts, talents, and tasks you have set upon my shoulders, may my diligent work spread the truth of Christ to many who live without hope. Use my life to serve Your purposes. By the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, may I properly reflect the love of my Lord, Jesus. Protect me from evil and deliver me from temptation, forgive me for my continual sin and heal me completely. Bless my life with Your provision and protection.
In Jesus’ Name,