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When the Prayer of Jabez Hasn't Worked for You
by Cate Russell-Cole
2/25/2016 / Christian Living
When I get to Heaven, I want to meet Jabez and see what he is like, because he sounds like an exceptionally special man, with a beautiful character.
"There was a man named Jabez who was more honourable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, "Oh, that You would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!" And God granted him his request." 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
Years ago, friends came to me and said, "you HAVE to read this book! This prayer of Jabez will change your life." I had stopped reading Christian books earlier, as I found I was depending on them more than on the Word of God, but I did look up the prayer and thought, "wow. I can see why this book is popular." To be kept from all trouble and pain, know God and be blessed materially, who wouldn't want that? Then I noticed that a lot of posters and gift items with the prayer of Jabez were appearing in our local Christian book shop. I had to decide, was this prayer a fad, or a really good idea?
For Jabez, this prayer is the best idea he ever had and his prayer inspires me. However, I never prayed the prayer, as it's not my prayer. It demonstrates a way of praying that could be beneficial... however, and this is where it all falls apart in our lives, as I don't have the character of Jabez, God could not produce the same results in my life without me becoming a spoiled brat. I know I would lose touch much of my motivation to seek the Lord, because I was so blessed, I didn't need Him as much. Plus how many critical lessons do we learn from pain, like it or not? An easy life didn't sound wise to me.
God is a pro-level Father. He would never, ever, give a gift to any of His children that would harm them, or pull them away from Him to any degree. Neither will He do anything that stops us from making our own decisions and often, subsequent mistakes. I am a master of the art of getting myself into trouble and because of free will, there is a limit to what God can halt in my life. Even if God was answering my prayer in the same way He blessed Jabez, my own life choice bloopers could effectively erode away what God was trying to give me.
So what can we learn from Jabez? To be honourable. What does that mean? According to several dictionaries, it means to have high standards, be deserving, be consistently righteous so that you are worthy of praise and it won't go to your head. It means being a person who is fair, courteous, respectful, lawful, unselfish, actively resisting corruption and sin, and to have integrity. Honour is built on submission to God, obeying the Word of God and showing the fruit of the Spirit to everyone, regardless of whether they are deserving or not. It's a hard thing to achieve.
So be comforted. The Lord has heard your prayers and done what is best for you. He will be working in the background to bring about His perfect, loving will for your life and if you submit to Him, you'll thrive. What comes may not look like what Jabez had, but it doesn't have to. It will be specially, carefully, tailor made FOR YOU by the Father who knows you so well. That is a greater act of love than simply making your life easy.
For more encouragement, have a look at these articles on the life of King David:
"How Long?" When Answers to Prayer Don't Seem to Arrive
When You Can't Be An Overcomer: Coping With Spiritual Failures
The Habits That Built King David's Faith
The Power ofPraying the Psalms
"But I Will Trust in You..." King David and the Art of Bouncing Back
How We Can Use Goliath's Sword
Yesterday's Hero: Ancient Politics or, How to Keep a King Humble (on suffering)
From Despair to Deliverance, the King David Project: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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