Tag Archives: Prayer of Jabez

What the Prayer of Jabez Means To Me

In my prior post, I made a couple of tweaks to the prayer of Jabez.  The original text reads:

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”  And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “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 may not cause pain!”  So God granted him what he requested.

Consider my paraphrase:

Jabez was a man of honor and integrity, but his mother had nicknamed him “hemorrhoid’ and always called him a “pain in the butt,” because his birth was so painful.  And Jabez pleaded with God: “Bless me abundantly — so that I may bless others — and grant me much influence; keep me on the right track, so that I may do good things, and no longer be viewed as a pain in the butt!”  And God said “yes!” to his petition.

That’s what the prayer of Jabez means to me.

[1 Chronicles 4:9-10]

Don’t be a Pain in the Butt

When I study the Bible, I use multiple versions (translations), depending on my mood and goals.  One version that I seldom use, however, is the New King James Version (NKJV).  There’s no particular reason, it’s just how things have worked out.

There is only one passage that I have memorized using the NKJV.  It is 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, the “prayer of Jabez,” which reads:

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “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 may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.

I like this rendering because, unlike the over versions I’ve checked, the reoccurring word “pain” connects his past — his birth — with his hope for the future.  To make my point, consider a couple of tweaks in today’s vernacular:

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother had nicknamed him “hemorrhoid’ and always called him a “pain in the butt,” because his birth was so painful. And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “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 may no longer be viewed as a pain in the butt!” So God granted him what he requested.

The mother of Jabez gave him a terrible legacy — and the God of Jabez took it away!

You Don’t Have to be a Pain

The obscure Old Testament character Jabez is only mentioned in two verses in the Bible.

A reoccurring theme (if two verses can have a reoccurring theme) is pain.

The birth of Jabez is marked by pain and his mom gives him a name to let everyone know that.  What a terrible legacy to give a boy, a name that serves as a constant reminder — to him and everyone else — that he caused pain and is likely destined to continue to cause pain.

Jabez could have opted to live up to those expectations, allowing his name to be a self-fulfilling prophecy or he could attempt to overcome it.  He chose the latter, asking God to keep him from causing pain.

And God answered that prayer!

Regardless of our past or the hand that life has dealt us, we don’t need to let that define us.  We can overcome it and become something else, something better.

God helped Jabez do just that and he can help us to; we only need to ask.

[1 Chronicles 4:9-10]

My Favorite Verse

Just as we may have a favorite color, make of car, movie, or vacation destination, some people also have a favorite Bible verse.  My favorite verse is not a common one and comes from an obscure passage in the Old Testament.

It is about an honorable man who prayed — and then “God granted his request.”

This is a simple phrase and seemingly not profound, but it is most encouraging to me.

There is often a mystery to praying: when God answers, how he answers, and if he answers the way we expect him to.  During dry times, it may seem like he never answers, but there are also times when the answers are quick and obvious.

This verse is a powerful reminder to me that God does indeed answer prayers.

[For the full story — all two verses — see 1 Chronicles 4:9-10]

What is your favorite verse to share?

More Righteous

One final reflection on the Prayer of Jabez.

In the scant bio for Jabez, it describes him as a good man, saying he “was more righteous than his brothers.”  Righteous is a word that we don’t use too often nowadays, but means to be morally upright.  Jabez then was a good, morally upright person.

Now, consider that characteristic with the final phrase in this passage, “So God granted him what he requested.”

That begs the question of causality.  Did God give Jabez what he asked for because Jabez was good or was Jabez good because God gave him what he asked for?

The answer, I suspect is “yes” — to both questions — which certainly gives us something to contemplate in respect to our prayers and relationship to God.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV]

His Request Was Granted

After Jabez’s short and concise prayer comes encouraging words of confirmation and affirmation.  The Bible simply notes that “God granted him what he requested.”  How exciting!

Although I don’t know the mind of God, I suspect that had Jabez made his requests for selfish reasons, the results may have been different.

Indeed this is something to consider in our own prayers.  If we see things through God’s perspective and pray accordingly, the outcome will likely be different than when we selfishly give God our list of “gimmes.”

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV]

Not Cause Pain / Do Good

The fifth and final line in Jabez’s prayer is

that I may not cause pain.”

At first glance this is an unclear and somewhat wordy request.  However, it can be reworded for clarity.  To not cause pain, is simply to do good.

Here Jabez is reminding himself — as much as he is telling God — that the purpose of his prayer is not self-serving or self-centered, but to do good for others.  Indeed, his first two requests address this desire directly, while the next two are to provide for help and protection in doing so.

His motives are pure and his intentions are good.  His prayer’s conclusion confirms that.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV]

Keep Me From Evil

The fourth line in Jabez’s prayer is:

that you would keep me from evil

If this request sounds vaguely familiar, there is good reason.  In the best known prayer in the Bible, often called “The Lord’s Prayer,” there is the line “deliver us from the evil one.”

Just as Jesus taught his followers to pray, Jabez is doing the same, asking for protection from the attacks of the devil.

Remember that Jabez has just asked for more blessings to bless others and for more opportunities to help others.  The devil, opposing both those initiatives, will go after anyone attempting to do so.  This is why Jabez next asked for God’s help, following it with this request for protection.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV, Matthew 6:13 NIV]

That Your Hand Would Be With Me

The third line of Jabez’s prayer is:

that Your hand would be with me

Having just asked God for greater blessing — in order to bless others — and more influence — in order to help others — Jabez realizes that he needs God’s direction and guidance so that he may proceed wisely and justly.

Indeed, having more blessing and more power can easily become a heady thing, distracting or even corrupting the recipient   Jabez, being aware of this risk, makes his third petition one of soliciting God guiding hand.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV]

Enlarge My Territory

After Jabez asks for blessings so that he could be a blessing to others, he then adds:

and enlarge my territory

In Bible times, territory meant power via increased authority, responsibility, and influence.

As, such, a request for “more territory” is not a petition for more “stuff,” as much as a metaphor implying greater authority, responsibility, and influence.  Again, this is for the purpose of benevolence, to help and aid others, not to be used selfishly or for personal gain.

Jabez wanted to have greater authority to assist those in need of an advocate, to be responsible to aid those who were less fortunate, and to positively influence his culture.

That is the good and proper use of power — and Jabez asked God to give it to him.

[Read more on The Prayer of Jabez; 1 Chronicles 4:9-10]