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When I first read it, I thought it was revolutionary—actually, it was for me. There was a buzz around the little gift-sized book that sold millions of copies. Simply titled what it was: The Prayer of Jabez.

Jabez is mentioned only the one time in the Old Testament, but he prayed a powerful little prayer, and God granted him his request. I think it is a prayer worth revisiting, some ten years after Bruce Wilkinson brought it to our attention.

Oh, that you would bless me indeed,

and enlarge my territory,

that your hand would be with me,

and that you would keep me from evil,

that I would not cause pain. 1 Chronicles 4.10

Growing up in a conservative Baptist church, I never thought to ask the Lord to bless me when I prayed. That he would bless others, sure, but not me. Why, it would have seemed self indulgent to pray in such a way! It would have seemed selfish and arrogant.

But when we ask God to bless us, it is not in self-seeking; rather, we ask for his divine favor. We do not demand blessings of a particular kind, but rather that we would realize all that he has in mind for us. I think David had similar thinking in Psalm 90, verse 17.

May the favor of the Lord rest upon us—

Confirm and establish the work of our hands,

yes, confirm and establish the work of our hands.

I love David’s little prayer because we ought all lift up the work to which we put our hands, for the blessing of God. Besides, asking the Lord to bless us is wanting for ourselves what he wants for us.

Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life…the abundant life.” John 10, verse 10. Therefore, it is completely within God’s will for you that you pray that he will bless you! He gave us permission to “Ask,” “seek”, and “knock”, and he would answer; he also told us to be persistent in our asking.

Jabez asked that the Lord would enlarge his territory—meaning that he would expand his sphere of influence for God … Do you desire such a thing? Oh, I know we are supposed to point others to him, but do you and I desire to do so—deep inside ourselves? Let’s pray. “God, Jabez was on to something. He wanted to expand his influence for you, and that should be the desire of our hearts as well. Increase our passion for telling others how amazing you are…please! Amen

It was about 15 years ago that I began praying that God would give me divine appointments. Seriously, in the morning, I would ask God to put someone in my path with whom I could share a meaningful conversation. That truly was the beginning of my great adventure with evangelism. As time went by, my fervor grew. And, trust me, God himself delights in setting up ‘serendipitous’ (or what appear to be such) meetings.

“That your hand would be with me,” he prayed. When God’s hand is with us, we are stronger and have access to his power. He always has his hand extended to us, but even for us to take it, we admit our dependence on him. And, you know what? We are meant to be dependent on him. “The hand of the Lord is a biblical term for God’s presence and power.”* The hand of the Lord was with the early Church, and we know that as a result, their numbers grew daily. Hmmm . . . Could it be that when we ask for the hand of God to guide our lives, we too will see results like Jabez and the early Church? Things will happen . . . things that are supernatural in nature, that only God could do!

One line that Jabez prayed seems a foreshadowing of what the Lord would teach us to pray, “Keep me from evil”…. or “deliver us from evil”. Again, how often do I remember to include that in my own petitions to God? Am I teaching my adolescent sons to pray that God would keep them from evil? I do not know why that is not an obvious part of my prayer, but for me, it has not been. This prayer of Jabez reminds me of its value.

In total, this one little verse, this one little prayer, could change your world. Go ahead . . . summon up your faith, call on God, and pray like Jabez!


* The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson

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Comment by Christine on October 2, 2010 at 8:15am
Oh Mary . . . it is the phrase of old, and a right one. eh? Where would we be without it? I cannot even imagine. May God bless you, my friend.

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