The prayer of Jabez in the Bible appears as a sidenote in a long list of genealogies. It is a short simple prayer, but one that captures our attention and appeals to our senses. There are many questions about the interpretation of this prayer. Is it a formula, or a pattern, that we can use in our own prayers? Does it encourage our faith to pray in a similar way? To try and answer those questions we need to examine the Scriptures and reflect on the true meaning of the prayer of Jabez…
Where Is The Prayer of Jabez In The Bible?
The prayer of Jabez in the Bible is found in the first book of Chronicles. This was written specifically for the people of Israel who had spent many years in exile in Babylon. They had been living in a foreign culture but had finally been allowed to return to the promised land.
The writer, or Chronicler, wanted to remind the people of their national identity – who they were and their unique and special relationship with God. The first book of Chronicles recounts Israel’s history and focuses on God’s promises to His faithful people. This was to bring hope and encouragement for the future.
It is always good to remind ourselves of our identity, of who God is and our unique relationship with Him. We strengthen our faith as we read the Word and focus on the love and sovereignty of God. Testimony is also powerful, when we read or hear of what God is doing in the lives of others. This brings hope and encouragement to our prayers.
The history of 1 Chronicles starts with the patriarchs, and the genealogies of the twelve tribes of Israel. Occasionally, among the long lists of names, the Chronicler inserts a short personal note. Among the record of the clans of Judah we find the Prayer of Jabez, just two short verses. He was a descendant of the tribe of Judah – the lion tribe, the tribe of leaders and rulers!
Prayer of Jabez NIV
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”1 Chronicles 4:9-10
The Real Prayer of Jabez
The prayer of Jabez seems like a simple prayer and a plea for strength. But for Jabez it was a little more than that…
In Biblical times, names held great significance and are almost regarded as prophetic. The name Jabez sounds like the Hebrew word for pain. And the text tells us that Jabez was given this name because his mother gave birth to him with great pain.
Even after a difficult beginning in life Jabez stood out amongst his family. He was regarded as being an ‘honorable’ man. This term was used to mean he was a godly man, and of good reputation. In faith Jabez turned to God in prayer to ask for the power of pain that had been spoken over his life, to be reversed. Jabez prayed, and asked that he would be free from pain, and God granted his request.
This was a significant time in Israel’s history, a time when their covenant relationship with God was being restored. In his short simple prayer Jabez received the gift of God’s mercy and grace.
The Israelites had been allowed to return to Jerusalem from exile, and had began a process of restoration. They started by building an altar to God, and then began work on the Temple. Finally they repaired the city walls and gates.
Although progress was slow, and sometimes halted, the people were re-establishing themselves in the land. When the walls were completed Ezra the Priest read from the ‘Book of the Law’ to the crowds of assembled people (Nehemiah 8:1-12 Bible Gateway).
We don’t know whether Jabez was in Jerusalem at this specific time. But the point here is that the people had access to the law of God. The Book of law was being read, and taught from, by the priests. It is probable that Jabez was familiar with the Aaronic priestly blessing:
“The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”Numbers 6:22-27
The real prayer of Jabez follows the pattern of the priestly blessing and evokes God’s Name over his life!
The Prayer of Jabez
Oh, that you would bless me –
and keep me from harm –
and enlarge my territory –
Let your hand be with me –
and keep me from harm –
so that I will be free from pain. –
The Priestly Blessing
The LORD bless you
and keep you
The LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you
The LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace
Our words have the power of life or death, and what we say matters. What is spoken over us matters! There may be words that have been spoken over us, whether carelessly or maliciously, that are harmful. But we too can ask for the strength, to break free, and for the power of those words over our lives to be reversed. God intends for each one of us to grow, and to be enlarged, into the fullness of who He intends us to be…
Three Prayer Points From The Prayer of Jabez
This simple prayer raises many questions and challenges our attitude and the motivation of our hearts. Are our prayers focused on what God can do for us, or a desire to know Him more? Do we discern the time and season that we are living in and know God’s call and commission for our lives? As we reflect on these questions, what prayer points can we take away from the prayer of Jabez?
1 Pray with faith
The prayer of Jabez in the Bible reveals one man’s faith in the goodness of God. Jabez was bold and courageous, with an active faith, to voice his request to break free from his past!
Jabez prayed from a position of faith in a new season of restoration. He did not pray this prayer in Babylon – but recognized God’s timing and His gift of grace. Jabez stepped out in faith to seek God’s protection and provision over his life.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”Hebrews 11:6
The prayer of Jabez is not a formula for us to repeat but a witness of faith in God’s protection and provision. It is inspirational for us to seek the possibilities of a new season in God’s timing. And even to ask the question, is this the time to step out and claim new ground?
2 Pray God’s Promises
A Promised Land – The prayer of Jabez reveals one man’s obedience to his calling. The history of Israel reveals, from Genesis onwards, a clear commission that they were to go in and possess the land of Canaan. This was the land given by God, with a promise, to their ancestors. (Joshua 1:1-9 Bible Gateway) Jabez sought God’s blessing to enable him to extend his territory and fulfil his calling.
A Promised Life – The prayer of Jabez in the Bible reveals one man’s knowledge of his true identity. Jabez knew who he was – an Israelite, of the tribe of Judah, an exile returning from captivity. And he was depending on the faithfulness of a covenant keeping God.
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.”Deuteronomy 30:15-16
The prayer of Jabez is not a formula for prosperity but recognition of our dependence on the faithfulness of God. His good promises to us, of forgiveness and acceptance, of every spiritual blessing, that are all fulfilled in Christ Jesus!
Pray in Jesus Name
The prayer of Jabez can inspire us to pray, with expectation of enlargement in the knowledge of the love and faithfulness of God. We can speak the Name of Jesus over our lives to reverse the curse of sin and live the abundant life that Jesus has won for us.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”1 Timothy 6:17-19
Our primary motivation for praying the prayer of Jabez is not about seeking success, or prosperity. But to live in the freedom, liberty, and joy, of the abundant life that Jesus has won for us. We too are living in the time of God’s favor!
Related Post: You may also like to read, Powerful Prayers In The Bible For Life Today!