How do you pray to God? Does it contain thoughts about what is wrong in your life and how you want God to change it? Is the reason for the prayer more about you than about God? Do you ask for things to be given you to fit your agenda in place of asking for God’s will to be done?
Pastor Marc Poland of West Park Church spoke on these and other thoughts in his most recent message, part 3 of the Teach Us to Pray Series. It had many who listened thinking about the content of our prayers to God. Then he presented the contents of the Jabez prayer, found in I Chronicles 4: 9, 10:
“And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. 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.”
Here’s the breakdown:
- Goes to his source of blessings, who is God
- Requests that his territory or span of influence be enlarged
- That God’s hand of protection would be with him, and
- That God would keep him from any evil that would cause him pain
Jabez’s mother named him based on the pain she endured while he was being born. Imagine having a name that means pain! Nevertheless, Jabez was described as more honorable than those around him.
Pastor Marc stated that this prayer did not give detail on life’s despair, and further did not (in a round about way) demand that his will be done. How many times have we asked for God to do something to fit our agenda? What if we modeled our prayers as kingdom prayers, shifting the focus on God’s will be done instead of our own? On the surface it appears the prayer of Jabez was attempting to get things from God. At closer review, Jabez was asking for help to enlarge his spiritual territory, that through Jabez the kingdom would be expanded! It is similar to some of the elements of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6: 9-13):
- Acknowledging who God is (verse 9)
- that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven (verse 10)
- to be delivered from evil (verse 13)
So what would happen if we prayed in this manner? It only took one verse to record the prayer of Jabez, and God responded in a positive way; as Jabez honored God, God returned the favor, honoring Jabez his prayer request.
We don’t have to tell God the details of what is going on in life; He already knows, and He knew before the foundation of the world the details of the present situation. However, when our prayers recognize the God of the universe, requesting God’s will to flow through all we do, God not only recognizes the prayer but honors it with all he does. And that is yours for the asking.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or think…” Ephesians 3:20