What is the Prayer of Jabez? What a great question! We are glad you asked. Let’s talk about it.
“ Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother named him Jabez saying, “Because I bore him with pain (sorrow) (1 Chronicles 4:9).”
This verse stands out from the long lists of genealogies in the first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles. Can you imagine reading a list of obituaries and suddenly coming across a comic strip. In this way, the Holy Spirit draws our attention to this verse in this list.
But these two verses are short and cryptic. So, there’s not a lot of contexts to help us understand the details. The surrounding text is always vital when you’re looking for meaning.
The name Jabez means sorrow.
Many Bible versions choose “sorrow” instead of “pain” to translate that Hebrew word into English. Jabez’s birth pained her to sorrow with Jabez’s birth. By saying that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, was his mother sorrowful because she feared he might turn out dishonorable, like his brothers? Why else would the author mention his brothers unless there was a connection?
This story is similar to how Isaac was named by his mother, Sarah.
Sarah was 90 years old, past childbearing years. Yet God promised Abraham a son, and Sarah overheard God’s promise as she stood in the doorway. When she heard it, she laughed, though she tried to deny it:
“Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me (Genesis 21:6).”
The name Isaac means laughter. She made a play on words about her son Jabez similarly. Sarah laughed at God’s promise, but it brought her joy when she gave birth to Isaac. Jabez’s mother named him “sorrow” because his birth brought her pain. But Jabez didn’t turn out like his dishonorable brothers.
“Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested (1 Chronicles 4:10).”
Jabez wanted to live a meaningful life before God.
Jabez recognized the meaning of his name, and he wanted to live a meaningful life before God. So, he made his requests to God in prayer:
He asked for God’s blessing. If he didn’t live an honorable life, he would be a hypocrite if he asked God to bless him.
Jabez prayed for an expanded opportunity to serve Him.
He asked God to enlarge his border, which means he asked for more land if his request was read literally. If that was the case, he might seem selfish. But in this case, he was figuratively asking God for an expanded opportunity to serve Him.
He asked God to be with him.
That’s how God wants us to live our lives. With a healthy dependence on Him, especially for spiritual victories. We can’t achieve those without depending on Him.
He asked God to keep him from temptation
He asked God, in a play on words, to keep him from harm that it may not pain (him)!” In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to ask God to deliver us from temptation and Jabez anticipated that.
God granted Jabez’s request. Jesus promised He’d hear and answer our prayers:
“Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. (Whoever) does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will (be) granted him…. “The things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you (Mark 11:22-24).”
We have Jesus’ promise, from a God who cannot lie, that He will hear and answer believing prayer.
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