I’ve been in New Testament evangelical churches all my life. Well, except for that 5-6 year period in my late teens and early twenties. Those don’t go in this book. In church we are taught certain disciplines – spiritual disciplines. The greatest of these is prayer. We are taught to pray certain prayers found in the Bible and other prayers at mealtime and bedtime. As we grow and mature, spiritually, we are taught how to pray.
Prayer is simply a two-way conversation with God. However, most of our prayers are more monologue than dialogue. We do all the talking and expect God to do all the listening. Then we expect Him to act on our prayer petitions as we desire and in our timing – right now. Newsflash: God doesn’t work that way. With spiritual maturing, we learn that Prayer is not about getting God to go along with our desires, but to align our hearts with God’s plan and timing.
There are many great prayers in the Bible. Prayers that we can and should pray intersecting our lives today. One such prayer is found in the Old Testament book of Chronicles. It is known as the prayer of Jabez. One thing I have learned is that if something is recorded in the Bible, it is not there for a history lesson or for filler. It is in God’s Holy Scripture because there is a lesson that I need to learn for my life.
I often pray Jabez’s prayer found in 1 Chronicles 4:10. 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.
It is short, but a true blessing to be able to pray it and watch God move in my life. Yet, it’s not reserved for me alone. It is in the Holy Scriptures because God wants to bless the life of everyone who will earnestly pray as Jabez prayed – with a sincere heart and a willingness to follow no matter how different it looks from what you desire. Notice, Jabez did not ask specifics. Whatever God chose to give him was indeed a blessing.
The key to being blessed by God through praying this prayer is praying in earnest and with a sincere heart not expecting specifics from God. Most of our prayers are not in earnest. The majority of our prayer lives consist of rote and ritualistic prayers. We have learned well to pray from our head (praying what we’ve heard others pray, what sounds good). God’s desire is that we pray from our hearts. It is not that he wants us to quote someone else’s prayer. He desires us to pour out our hearts with a yearning to accept his will for us.
While prayer has been a part of my life for years, as I’ve grown older, I have truly studied scripture, books about prayer, discipleship courses on prayer, people praying. And in recent years I have studied prayer with a partner – the perfect prayer partner. God! I am truly blessed!
As I have prayed the prayer of Jabez (with a few changes) over the past ten to twelve years, it is usually asking God to let me serve Him more. I stay busy as a church health strategist, assisting churches and denominational entities, and public speaking engagements. Well, as busy as I want.
Yet, I often find myself praying the Jabez prayer because I crave being blessed by God. Once you experience the blessing on the other side of obedience to God, you want more. Therein lies the key to blessings. It is obedience to God’s call on your life and what He desires for you on any particular day.
Here’s a sample of how I pray Jabez’s prayer: Lord, you have blessed me indeed. My blessing is in being able to serve You. Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory in whatever way you desire. And Lord keep Your hand upon me, that You would keep me from evil, that I may not bring shame on You, Your church or my family! In Jesus precious name. Amen!”
Life lesson: Prayer is essential in my life. The more I can align my prayer life to God’s desires for me, the more blessings will be poured out allowing me to serve him more.
George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.