The Prayer of Jabez
1 CHRONICLES 4, VERSES 9 AND 10
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.
Sometimes preachers and evangelists will use this passage to tell Christians that if you pray and ask God for wealth, success or fame, God will give it. While God might make you wealthy or successful or famous, that is not always the case. God knows exactly what you need and will provide for all of your needs, but he may not choose to make you wealthy or successful in material ways.
It is important to look at these verses within the context of the chapter. Here, it provides a genealogy of Judah, one of the sons of Jacob who was the patriarch of the tribe of Judah. Although the chapter only mentions the descendants of Jacob, it does single out the name of Jabez. His story is injected in the middle of the record. When we see this happen in the Bible, something that stands out as unusual, we should stop and try to make sense of it because it has to be important.
Jabez’s request might appear selfish at first, we should, nonetheless, take a longer look. We see that Jabez was a good man who was trying to live a righteous life. However, he was surrounded by evil men like his own family (brothers, sisters, parents). Jabez prayed to God and asked that God would bless him and enlarge his coast. Was he asking for wealth (more land or property) or was he asking for room to raise his own children separated from the evil of his family? He asked God to keep him from evil, the evil that surrounded him. He also asked that their evil would not grieve him. How hard is it for a righteous man to live with an unrighteous family and be surrounded by unrighteous people? Jabez prayed a righteous prayer, the prayer of a man who desired to live right. God granted him what he asked for.
WHAT IT MEANS TO OUR FAMILY
Are we praying to God for the right things? Do we skip reading the genealogies in the Bible? Perhaps we should read very carefully when we see ourselves wanting to skip something. The stories of the families found in those genealogies are sometimes quite informative.
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