Prior to the year 2000, few people had ever heard of Jabez. But after The Prayer of Jabez book became a bestseller, almost all Christians had heard of him. Why did his prayer become so popular?
Jabez prayed simple but compelling words.
“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” (1 Chronicles 4:10 NIV).
And God gave him what he asked for.
“Success made easy” is good marketing.
Apparently, Jesus never studied the rules of good salesmanship. At one time, Jesus said, “You can’t be my disciple without forsaking everything to follow me” (Luke 14:27). Few people would buy that message.
But at another time, he said, “Whatever you ask in prayer believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). Those words fit quite well with what happened with Jabez, so Prayer Believing sounds like a great title for the next bestseller.
Will the words of Jabez work for me?
Millions of people believed the famous prayer would turn their failures into success, or they wouldn’t have bought the book. Christians were encouraged to recite those words every day.
Is God hard of hearing? Does he need to be convinced? False worship encourages vain repetitions, but Jesus said I shouldn’t do that (Matthew 6:7). He went on to say that God knows my needs before I ask.
Since I want more, I can’t always understand why I have less. I’m left with having to trust God, that he knows my needs better than I do.
God’s gifts can be a blessing or a curse.
When I ask for more, I need to be careful. Jesus said, “Unto whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). As I consider those words, I wonder if I might be blessed by having less.
Jesus was asked what works were needed for eternal life. He told the rich man to sell all his goods and give his money to the poor. Then the man could follow Jesus (Luke 18:22).
The man walked away because he failed to recognize the profoundly greater value of being with Jesus. I never want to be cursed by valuing God’s gifts more than the giver.
Having more requires giving more.
I don’t know why God answered Jabez’s prayer. Perhaps God knew that Jabez would use the increase to help others in need. Or maybe God gave the increase to make him miserable and show that life is not found in the abundance of our possessions.
My prayer is for God to give me all I need to fulfill his purpose in my life. And with that prayer, I’ll be delighted to hear that God gave me what I asked for.
Jesus said, “If you want the highest place of honor, you must be the best servant, just like the Son of Man, who has come to serve and sacrifice his life for many.” — Matthew 20:27–28