This Wednesday past, my Pastor preached a very interesting message about the story of a man named Jabez in the Holy Bible.
It's been over a decade now since the fervor of the "Prayer of Jabez" has hit the contemporary churches all over neighborhoods and I remember when this came out then how it was used as some sort of a "prayer" sometime a mantra to increase one's financial gain and stature.
However, when I heard this message again last Wednesday - my Pastor brought it home for me so to speak, for it was an enlightenment that's most appropriate in application to the Bible verses. The verses proceeds as follows:
"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."
-- 1 Chronicles 4:9 to 10:
The name Jabez - translated to today's language means "pain," as told to us from this verse Jabez's mother bared him with such ordeal that she named him "pain". Be that as it may, Jabez was not just content with his designation, as it were, because he desired for a special blessing from God (Oh, that thou wouldst bless me indeed,).
How my Pastor explained that this tremendous request was what's referred to as a "patriarchal prayer," the kind that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, etc. prayed for: a great blessing from God which when granted was a tremendous outpouring of good graces that lasted through generations. Jabez prayed for this but that was not all, he also prayed that God might "follow" him or be upon him for continued blessing.
How we can apply this best to ourselves personally is by way of spirituality. How about praying that God would enlarge our "spiritual coast" - as in the real estate of how far one could go for God - is it just our street, our neighborhood or our town that you are going to minister to? Or should it be more?
The most interesting part of the text that was preached was when Jabez asked that he would be kept from evil - explained: this indicated Jabez did not necessarily want to be free from worries or troubles but rather - that Jabez might already go "past" all the frightful and dreaded things! The word my Pastor used was "advanced," Jabez prayed that he may be past the turmoil already? perhaps even while when he is in the middle for the trial - may he already see the outcome! The outcome that he wanted to see, was that: he is better off having experienced the tribulation because it made his faith to increase. Something that is important so that we will not be grieved to the point of perpetual and permanent discouragement.
I thank God how this text was delivered, how I heard it preached on before was how it mainly focused on monetary prosperity. But what really matters is spiritual strength, character building, understanding the will of God in our lives, things that will matter in the passageways of eternity.
How's that for an enlarged coast?