1 Chronicles 4:9-10 – Jabez was more honourable 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. (NIV)
We've been hearing a lot about the little book written by Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez. Most, but not all, of the press that I've heard was positive. A good friend loaned her book to me and I was intrigued by the inconsistency of recording the prayer among the genealogy of 1 Chronicles. But there it is, right in the middle of a long list of names, a little two-sentence prayer that Mr. Wilkinson credits for bringing many great opportunities into his life.
Would it work for me? I didn't see that it could do any harm, although it was a departure from my normal intercessory prayer life. It seemed somewhat selfish to simply pray for more territory and personal protection with no requests for others. In spite of the initial discomfort, I began praying the "Prayer of Jabez". Soon, I began to see more opportunities to share God's blessing with others and I found I was able to open up and share my story of God's love more freely.
But, one morning recently, I was especially blessed. On my way into the city, traffic was a little heavy and I was already past the grey figure of a man alongside the road with his thumb in the air. Occasionally I'll pick up a hitchhiker if I have seen his face clearly and feel comfortable with the person from this first impression. But this morning, with no conscious thought, I pulled to the side of the road to offer this man a ride. He picked up his small pack of possessions and ran to my vehicle to secure his ride. When I offered my hand and introduced myself, I saw that the man seemed confused. Maybe he was mentally disabled; I couldn't tell.
In fact, he had been alongside the road in prayer. His body had run to catch the ride, but his heart and mind were still with God and couldn't break away for a few minutes. Soon he was able to tell me his name and that he was heading south to Texas. He asked if there was a church of his denomination in the city. "Yes, there is," I replied, "and I will take you there." We chatted a little along the way and I told him that I had prayed that morning for "expanded territory" and in particular for an appointment today to share God's love. I thanked him for being that appointment.
Soon we arrived at the church. I had a few leftover cookies from a meeting the prior evening, so I gave those to my new friend. I asked if he had enough money for lunch and he said that he did. So we parted ways there in front of the church. He went on his way and I on mine to enjoy God's blessing that he had shared with me.
Prayer: Lord God, bless us and enlarge our territory! Let your hand be with us, and keep us from harm so that we will be free from pain. Amen.