Prayer of Jabez Part 2 of 4

Prayer of Jabez

Part 2 of 4
Adapted from exhortation preached at PCC Prayer Meeting on 25 Nov 2004.
 

"9 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. 10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested" (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).

We began a study of the Prayer of Jabez last Sabbath. The Prayer Jabez is not prescribed in the Scripture for us to use as a kind of mantra as some evangelicals today make it to be.

Neither is the Prayer of Jabez a comprehensive pattern of prayer like the Lord’s Prayer. But it is an effectual prayer, for we are told that the Lord granted Jabez that which he requested.

And in so far as it is recorded in a most surprising context, we have reason to believe that it is an important prayer which the Lord would want us to learn.

The Prayer of Jabez, you will recall is recorded in the midst of nine chapters which is otherwise purely a genealogical record. Indeed, Jabez is not even mentioned in the genealogy. His biography is recorded but not his genealogy!

All we are told is that Jabez was more honourable than his brothers; and that he was called Jabez because his mother bore him with sorrow.

Everything else we know about Jabez is his prayer. So we know that this prayer must have some special spiritual significance.

This prayer has 4 petitions:

a. Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed,

b. Enlarge my coast,

c. That thine hand be with me, and

d. That thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!

We do not know how Jabez prayed this prayer. Did he pray it in public and it was recorded? Or did he use this as an outline for his daily petitions before the Lord as Matthew Henry suggests? We do not know. But we know that this is an effectual prayer and we can learn from it and incorporate the principles into our own prayer life.

In the first part of this study, we considered the 1st petition: "Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed." We saw then that God would bless us, but He would have us ask a blessing. We saw also that what we may deem to be blessings are not necessary God’s blessings, and so we must learn to ask that God would bless us truly. Our eyes therefore must be set on Christ and upon heavenly treasures even as we ask the Lord to bless us in our present life.

In this second study, we want to consider the 2nd petition: "Enlarge my coast."

What does this petition mean?

1. Literal Meaning

On the surface, ‘enlarge my coast’ appears to be a request to be given more land! The word ‘coast’ can also be translated ‘border’ or ‘territory.’ So Jabez is asking the Lord to enlarge his territory or lengthen his borders.

We don’t know anything about Jabez. Was he a landowner? Was he a captain of the army? Was he a businessman? Why was he seeking to have more territory? Is he asking the Lord to grant him success in the wars he was fighting? Is he wanting a bigger portion of the land allotted to the children of Israel? Is he desiring to do business in a larger area than what he is doing? We don’t know.

But one thing we know: God answered his prayer. So we know that he must have prayed according to God’s will; and we know that he did not ask amiss that he might consume it upon his lust.

James says:

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (Jms 4:3).

Jabez received what he asked for. It was not greed that motivated his petition to the Lord, or the Lord would not have answered his prayer.

2. Literal Application

But what is it to ask God to enlarge our coast? How should we pray this petition? Well, if you are living in the same situation as Jabez, then you can indeed pray the prayer literally. God would answer your prayer whether to enlarge your property, to enlarge your business or to enlarge your influence—so long as you do not ask amiss that you may consume it upon your lusts (Jas 4:3).

In other words, if you were to pray that God would enlarge your coast literally, you must make sure that it is not greed that motivates you.

But if we do not pray this petition literally, how should we pray?

3. Spiritual Application

Well, we can be sure that to pray that God would enlarge our coast would include praying that God would enlarge our hearts, and so enlarge our portion in Himself and in the heavenly Canaan. This ought to be our desire and our prayer. So we should pray as the apostles did: "Lord, increase our faith."

So let us pray that God will give us more opportunities to learn and to grow in grace.

Likewise, it would be certain that we may and should pray that God would increase our talents with which we may serve Him. So it is right to pray: Lord enlarge my gifts. Or, Lord, give me more opportunities to serve Thee. So order my life that I may be a blessing to others as Thou hast been a blessing to me.

So it is right to aspire to the office of an elder in the church. The apostle Paul talks about that. Likewise it would be right to aspire to serve in particular areas in the church that we may be a blessing to others. If we find such a desire in our heart, we should pray.

Many years ago, when I first started attending church, I was rather taken aback to see how callous the elders and deacons who were standing at the entrance of the church were. I was new at the church and no one welcomed me. And when someone eventually shook my hand it was a mechanical handshake because he was talking to someone else. This went on for week.

Eventually, I shared my perplexity with a brother whom I could confide in. He gave me a piece of very good advice. He said something like: If you think you might be able to do a better job, pray that the Lord would put you in the situation. He was essentially teaching me that God would enlarge my coast.

Well, I prayed that prayer and in a few years I was standing at the entrance of the same church, shaking hands and welcoming the worshippers.

Do you, brethren, desire to be more greatly used by the Lord whether at work, at home or at church? Pray that the Lord would enlarge your coast.

And shall we not pray the same as a church? What is it to pray that the Lord would enlarge our coast as a church? Would it not be to pray, according to the promise of Isaiah, that God would enlarge the place of our tent so that we have to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes (Isa 54:2).

That is, shall we not pray that, He will increase our numbers? Shall we not pray that we may be so large as to overflow this hall and the meeting hall we use on the Lord’s Day? We must not be afraid to grow. Growth will come with problems, but what a blessing it will be if God grants us increase—whether through more children or through more conversions.

And not only so, but shall we not pray that the Lord will grant us more opportunities as a church to serve Him? We have a golden opportunity in Cagayan de Oro. Our elder is there. Will we not pray that the Lord will bless the work? Will we not pray for more opportunities that we may be a blessing to others according as the Lord has blessed us as a church? Shall we not expect great things and attempt great things for God with His blessing?

Shall we not pray that the Lord enlarge our coasts as individuals and enlarge our coasts as a church?

Conclusion

This then, is how we should pray "enlarge our coast." May the Lord grant us that as we learn to pray that He will enlarge our coast, we may see more and more of His power in our lives individually and as a church. Amen. W
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