"Lord, that you would bless me indeed,
And enlarge my territory;
That your hand would be with me.
And you would keep my heart from evil, Amen."
Last night, my youth group and I sang this song arranged by Paul Baloche together. I had heard it a few days before and dropped all other music options so that I could share this with them. It touched my heart and I loved it: the sounds of so many voices from many different lives, and in different situations all singing this one prayer, this prayer of Jabez.
Now, if you don't know who Jabez is, that's ok. He's tucked away in a lonely little chapter in 1 Chronicles. In a line of sons and fathers and "begats," there is an interruption for this man saying, "Jabez was more honorable than his brothers... call[ing] upon the God of Israel... And God granted what he asked." Why would there be this slightly random man in the middle of all of this genealogy? Like Tabitha from Acts (see previous posts), I think that although there are so few verses for this individual, their testimonies are the most important.
Jabez was just an average man; he was probably a farmer with herds of sheep and goats. He was probably a landowner with fields of grain or corn. Jabez called upon the name of the Lord and asked that He would bless him and enlarge his territory and keep him from evil. God did all these things for him.
Why would I choose this song for my youth group to sing? And how does it apply to our daily lives?
First, when Jabez asks God to bless him, he's not being selfish. The word "bless" in this context means supernatural favor. Jabez is asking for God's favor, not the "blessings" we think of as general pleasures. In the book, The Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson, he says, "When we seek God's blessing as the ultimate calue in life, we are throwing ourselves entirely into the river of His will and power and purposes for us." That's what Jabez was doing. He was throwing himself into the favor of God.
But why should we plead for "territory?" Here is a request of God to enlarge your life so that you can make a greater impact for Him. Every day, we need to ask for more opportunities to bring Him glory--whatever that may mean.
"That your hand would be with me." This is acknowledging that you are dependent upon God. "The second you're not feeling dependent is the sencond you've backed away from truly living by faith," said a Bible teacher to Wilkinson. It's true! We need God's hand upon us to sustain and continue the great things that God does in our lives.
"That you would keep my heart from evil," is the last part to this simple prayer. Jabez prays that God would protect him from Satan's proven power to make him gloat over blessing. So easily, we can become prideful when God blesses us-- sometimes He then takes those blessings away, but sometimes He leaves them with us. We need the grace and protection from that evil. Note that Jabez doesn't ask to not be tempted to evil. Why wouldn't he ask that? Well, if we are not being tempted to evil, then Satan is not really worried about us anymore. We're not engaging in the spiritual warfare that we should as Christians. Rather, we should pray for strength to endure the temptations and for victory over the attacks!
And God granted what Jabez asked for. Why? Because this is the prayer that God wants to hear. I would encourage all of you to get and read "The Prayer of Jabez." It's a small book and I think you can get them from CBD for about $1 each. If you don't get this, read 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.
"How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God; and all will see how great, how GREAT is our God."