“Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.”St. Augustine –

God calls us to pray. We are His people through whom He does His work. When we unite with God in prayer, making ourselves available to His will, He can use us to change the world. Without this vital connection, we often wander without direction and miss out on His glorious plan for us.

“God shapes the world by prayer.”E.M. Bounds, Christian Author

Nestled in the Old Testament, in the genealogy of the tribe of Judah, is a hidden gem of a prayer. Amidst the chronicling of the kings and royal lineage of Judah, the line of the promised Messiah, is a short biography of a man named Jabez. In two verses, we learn about this man of little renown… and his prayer of faith that is heard and answered by the Almighty God.

The fact that this short bio is included among the names of the royal kings of Judah should give us pause for thought. Perhaps God wants us to take special note of Jabez and his prayer…

What do we know about this obscure man of God?

Jabez was raised in a Jewish family… a godly man, obedient to the will and purposes of Jehovah God. He is described as more honorable, more respected than his brothers. His mother bore him in pain… thus his name “Jabez” (“sorrow” in Hebrew).

Jabez’ prayer of faith is a heartfelt petition to his heavenly Father. Hebrew names were spiritually significant, often reflecting a child’s heritage and future hope. Jabez’ prayer may be an appeal to overcome the curse of his name of sorrow and move into the blessing of God. In this prayer we discover secrets for how we can pray in faith.

“Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed,

Jabez seeks the blessing of God on his life. God longs to shower His children with blessings. We are right in asking for not only His blessings, but to remain under the umbrella of His favor and blessing. Our sins cause us to step out from under this umbrella. When we confess our sins and return to Him, we return to His place of refuge.

…and enlarge my territory,

Jabez asks for new opportunities to glorify God. On our spiritual journey, we aspire to bring glory to God. Like Jabez, we can ask for an expansion of our areas of influence for Him.

We may seek to express the fruit of the Spirit in our lives… or better reflect God’s glory to others. We may desire spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ… or greater courage and boldness to share the good news. We may seek to branch out into new areas of ministry… or even new locales to share the gospel around the world.

Because our heart’s motivation is to glorify God and advance His Kingdom on earth, we are not being presumptuous by making these requests. We may miss out on His divine plan for us by not asking.

…that Your hand might be with me,

Jabez requests God’s presence with him. As we step out in faith and in God’s blessing, it is right to ask for Him to be with us. We want Him to work His will through us. We ask for His guidance to lead our way… His power to do His work through us… and His success upon our ventures for His kingdom. If not done in His power and for His glory, our work will not be blessed.

…and that You would keep me from evil, so that it might not cause me pain.’

Jabez prays for God’s protection. We cannot forget to ask for God’s hand of protection to be upon us. Seeking to please Him and stepping out in ministry places a target on our backs. We appeal to our all-powerful God to be our shield, safeguarding us from all evil. We pray that no weapon formed against us will prevail. We ask to be free from the pain of undue suffering.

And God granted him that which he requested.”  1 Chronicles 4:10

Why did the God of the universe answer this simple prayer by a humble man? We see the heart of Jabez in this prayer. His heart is for God, His kingdom, His glory. We see the love Jabez has for His heavenly Father, cultivated by a living relationship with Him. We see the trust of Jabez in His faithful God who is always true to His promises. And God blesses Jabez.

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:13-15

God sees our hearts… and the motives behind our prayers. In James we read that when we ask and do not receive, we are asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3). When we love God and seek to follow Him, we can ask anything of Him… boldly praying in the mighty name of His Son Jesus.

When our prayers align with God’s perfect will for us, He will answer. We trust in His faithfulness to give His best to us. He will bless us as we call to him, like Jabez, with prayers of faith. For faith is the key that unlocks God’s blessings when we pray.

Whether we’re entering the mission field in a faraway place or living a quiet life in our home environs glorifying God, we can use Jabez’ prayer of faith as a simple petition to our heavenly Father for His blessing and protection.

Oh, that You would bless me indeed,
and enlarge my territory,
that Your hand might be with me,
and that You would keep me from evil,
so that it might not cause me pain.