Pray like Jabez

There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. 

He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NLT

Two verses. That’s all that is mentioned of this man named Jabez.

It is, however, poignant that Scripture even mentions his name. We can often find purpose and revelation in the use of the specific name.  When you discover the etymology, or the origin of a word and the development of its meaning, you can ultimately gain a profound understanding.

Jabez (יַעְבֵּץ; yah·bats’) means “sorrow” and comes from the root, “to grieve“. 1

If you are a parent, I am certain you gave considerable thought to the naming of your child. My husband and I definitely did. When our first son was born, we settled on “Elliott”. It is my husband’s middle name, but more importantly, it means: “The Lord is our God”. Keeping with the alliteration theme, we named our second son “Elias”, which also means: “The Lord is our God”. And finally, when we had our daughter, “Eleanor” was an obvious choice because it was a name found on both sides of our family tree. But what’s even more beautiful, is her name means: “shining light”. Every time we call one of our boys we are essentially saying, “The Lord is our God”! And when I say my daughter’s name, I am calling her “shining light“!

So, when I read that Jabez was given a name that would be a constant reminder of pain, grief, and sorrow — I pause and consider the heaviness of his identity.

Even though His life began in pain and sorrow he did not let it define him.

I know many of you had horrible beginnings. Your past has left you scarred and wounded. Whether you carry the guilt and shame of things you’ve done or of things done to you, please know that God can redeem you and remove the weight of the burden you carry.

I have swept away your sins like a cloud.
    I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.
Oh, return to me,
    for I have paid the price to set you free.”

Isaiah 44:22, NLT

His Word is full of His redemptive promises. Like any free gift, we just have to receive it for it to belong to us.

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

isaiah 43:1-2, NLT

God is a refuge for the hurting and hopeless. He is the solid ground to the sinking sand of the world around us. No matter what’s happened to us, He can redeem us. Where we feel inadequate and unworthy, His love is complete and is all we need to be made healthy and whole. No matter the regretful choices we’ve made or shame we may carry with us — God can restore each and every one of us — we just have to give Him permission.

Jesus’ death on the cross made the way to bring us eternal salvation. All it takes is faith; Faith to believe that God’s Word is true and that He gave His only Son (John 3:16) so that you and I can be freed from the burden of our past and look forward with hopeful expectation to an eternal future.

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”

ephesians 1:7, NLT

Ebbs and flows…dips and dives…highs and lows…that’s what this adventure of life is. No matter where you are in this journey, the moment you surrender and say , “Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I am in need of being rescued. I need a Savior,” you begin the process of transformation.

“Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.”

acts 3:19, NLT

Scripture doesn’t mention this man, Jabez, any other time. But it was said of him that he was “more honorable than any of his brothers“. I don’t know what that means, specifically, but it implies that he was likely living a life that honored the Lord.

What does a God-honoring life look like?

 “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

Galatians 5:19-23, NLT

A God-honoring life allows the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts, decisions, and motivations. A God-honoring life is infused with the fruit of the Spirit.

No matter how hard we try to fix ourselves or change our own behavior, we will constantly fail because we are engaged in a perpetual inner battle — warring against our sinful nature . That is why we need to ask the Holy Spirit to bring forth and reproduce this collective fruit in, and through, us.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”

galatians 5:22-23, NLT

Left to our own free will, we will take the path of least resistance.

  • Who wants to LOVE someone that looks, thinks, acts, and believes differently than you do?
  • Who wants to be JOYFUL in the midst of a terminal diagnosis, job loss, or failing marriage?
  • Who wants to pursue PEACE in a relationship when you have been wronged?
  • Who wants to be PATIENT when you’ve been on hold for 5 minutes, the doctor took a bit too long coming to see you, or the server got your order wrong?
  • Who wants to be KIND to someone who has been hateful to you and said nasty things to your face or behind your back?
  • Who wants to be happy and feel GOOD about their life when they see everyone else on Facebook seemingly have it all?
  • Who wants to be GENTLE when your kids are driving you crazy or someone throws a snarky comment your way?
  • Who wants to remain FAITHFUL when you still haven’t seen the evidence of your obedience?
  • Who wants to opt for delayed gratification and SELF-CONTROL when there are so many options to satiate you?

NO ONE does. That’s because it goes against every fiber of our being.

Once we have the revelation that we cannot do this life apart from the will of the Father, it takes submission to the process of being changed.

For Jabez, this truth must have been revealed because the Scripture says, “He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel…And God granted him his request.”

He prayed a one-sentence prayer.

We don’t have to pray some lofty prayer full of “thees, and thous”. We can talk to God like our He’s our Father — because He is.

The Bible tells us that we have permission to boldly come before the Creator of the Universe and ask Him to share His desire for our lives (Hebrews 4:16).  When we do ask Him, He will never resent our asking (James 1:5).  And what’s even better…He will answer us (John 14:14)! But the prerequisite for answered prayer is to be living in the center of His will for our lives. There we are safe, we are equipped, and we are prepared to move forward and begin the work He has called us to do. 

Jabez had total dependence on God. He made his request known and asked a bold prayer: “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!”

He knew that only the Lord could protect him from the inevitable pain and sorrow of this sin-filled world.

In just two verses, we read that a life begun in sorrow ended with abundance.

God granted his request because God favors those who ask. Jabez was able to conquer new territory with divine consent.

Ultimately, he wasn’t remembered for what he did…He was remembered for HOW and WHAT he PRAYED!

How and What are YOU praying for?

As long as you are living your life seeking God first (Matthew 6:33) and your obedience to the Heavenly Father overflows out of a heart that loves Him — He will honor your requests. Remember, He’s not a “genie in a bottle” where we can come to Him only when we need something from Him. This relationship (not religion) is built on reciprocity. We draw near to Him, and He draws near to us (James 4:8). We abide or remain connected to (and in) Him, and He will abide or remain connected to (and in) us (John 15)

Now, I’d like YOU to pray like Jabez.

Write out the two verses — but this time, make it personal!

“Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” Amen!


8 thoughts on “Pray like Jabez

  1. Angela,
    Thank you for the wonderful reminder of the prayer Jabez, this scripture held me tight as we waited for what seemed like an eternity for our adoption match back in 2006!
    Your blog is uplifting and joyful, thank you for being you!
    Beth Windle Rea (Ralph’s sister)

  2. Thanks, Angela, for your beautiful stories and explantations of what one can do to better themselves to live a God-honoring life. It is so hard to change one’s behavior (especially when you’ve been doing it for multiple decades). But, now, thanks to you, I know, now that I can ask God to help me have more patience and self control (anger) to help me have better thoughts and actions. I look forward to your next blog!

  3. Totally enjoyed this Angela… And not the least bit convicted LOL! Especially liked the “left to our own free will…” Great reminder that we just can’t do this on our own and we need him so much! Such a blessed assurance that he is always there for us!

  4. You are such a talented writer, I have loved all your blog entries. I have chosen my 2 verses to “Pray like Jabez”. Once again your writing has inspired me. Thank you!

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