A Message from Pastor John
Almost 20 years ago, a rather obscure passage from the Old Testament became instantly popular in some Christian circles, providing the basis for a best-selling book, bible studies, and a plethora of decorative merchandise.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 reads,
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 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.
We know nothing about Jabez except this—he was more honorable than his brothers, he gave his mother enough pain that she named him after it, he cried out to God, and God gave him all he asked! We don’t know what Jabez accomplished—he wasn’t a great warrior or ruler, he wasn’t a great priest or prophet. But we do know he prayed… and got what he prayed for.
Most of us were taught that we shouldn’t pray for ourselves much—that it’s selfish and we should be more concerned about others. But Jabez prayed for God to bless him (and bless him in a big way). And God answered that prayer. So God must not take offense when we ask to be blessed… if our hearts are right, if we’re asking for blessings for the right reasons. James 4:2 says, “You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And when you do ask he doesn’t give it to you, for you ask in quite the wrong spirit—you only want to satisfy your own desires.”
When Jabez asked for enlarged territory, I don’t think he was looking for more real estate. That would be a selfish request. I think he was asking instead, “Hey God, will you give me more opportunities to influence people for you?” Influencing people for the sake of God and the everlasting kingdom is one of the best things you can do. When you ask God to enlarge your territory, you’ll reach more people for God and you’ll be filled with true joy.
And when God blesses us and expands our territory, the Enemy will grow upset because we’re encroaching on the territory he wants to control. When we pray that God’s hand will be with us we’re praying for God’s presence and power—presence and power that will keep us from evil. When we pray like Jabez prayed, there will be times when God will keep us from even having to face temptation, much less stumble into sin.
All of us have got the same access to God’s favor and blessing, but we don’t all pursue God in the same way. We don’t all ask for God’s blessing. In Philippians 3:14, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Jabez pressed on toward God, which made him more honorable in God’s eyes.
When we pursue God and healthy influence upon others in service to God, God will provide favor and anointing upon our lives. Let’s get in the habit of praying Jabez’ prayer with a heart to serve. To ask God to be richly blessed, that in turn we may be a blessing to others.