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.
Me me me me me. In this 29-word prayer, it’s all about the ‘bless me’. What a selfish prayer! Or at least that was how I thought about it, until I found out that the prayer was answered. This was the prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10, and it ended with “God granted his request”. But how could this be?
It is because that prayer is not what it appears to be.
See, Jabez was born in pain. This was similar to the birth of Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob. As Rachel lay dying after giving birth to Benjamin, in grief, she called him ‘Benoni’ — the son of my sorrow — but his father looked beyond the circumstances and called him, he is “Benjamin” — the son of my right hand. This prayer was a declaration that it didn’t matter what man said about him. Even if everything around us speak of insignificance, failure and weakness, Jabez taught us this: What matters is what our Father says about us. This ‘me’ prayer is genius because it points us back to who gave our blessing to us.
Jabez shouldn’t have been noticed. He had no military credentials. He was not known for anything in particular, really. He could have drifted through life, choose to step backward into the shadow, and just get by. But he was remembered because of his prayer.
Though he was surrounded by ashes — the brokenness, confusion and despair — he decided that he was not what he was surrounded by. After all, it was easier to make no promises, but he wanted to be more dedicated, more faithful. By praying that prayer for enlargement in his sphere of ministry, he subjected himself to be more dependable, more responsible, more devoted, more trustworthy… more honourable.
Do you know that there is a blessing with no sorrow attached to it? That blessing is spiritual prosperity. The prayer of Jabez was something God already wanted to do. It is not a prayer that says give me more, but a prayer that cries out: God, I want to be the best I can be. God, I am not satisfied with drifting, keeping the status quo. God, you promised that you will be with us. God, I want to serve you fuller and deeper by the day. God, enlarge my influence so that your glory can be known.
A mischievous child might be an evangelist, just as Jesus, disguised as a carpenter, is a King. Your future is never predestined. God will answer our prayer of Jabez because increase is not just Jabez’s idea, but God’s plan. But can God trust you with the responsibilities if He prospers you? If your answer is that you are willing to commit, then it’s time to pray a heartfelt prayer that is out of line with your insecurities. And allow God to back you up.