A new year brings a new start. Every year people make New Year’s resolutions that they do not keep. Why? They rely on their strength and power. We need more than human power, we need a higher power (John 3:30)! When I hear “2020,” I think vision/eyesight. I searched the word “vision” in the Bible and was amazed at the connection between vision and prayer. For example, in Daniel 9 as Daniel was praying, the angel Gabriel appeared and gave him understanding of the vision. In Acts 10, Peter went up on the rooftop to pray and God gave him a vision. You do not need your vision for 2020, you need God’s vision for your life that comes through prayer. In this new series on prayer we will study some of the great prayers of the Bible. There is power when we pray scripture (John 15:7). I want us to start the new year praying the prayer of Jabez. In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, we read, “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” Why this prayer? There are three reasons:
God Loves People
The context of this prayer is 1 Chronicles. This book traces genealogy all the way back to Adam, which is the first word in chapter 1:1. The writer summarizes the main stories of the Old Testament and lists the main characters. Remember your heritage! Don’t ever forget where God brought you from. The stories of the past give us hope for the future. You see, they had been in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. They needed to know their future could be better than their past. The book ends with David telling Solomon in 22:19, “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.” That is how we need to start every day. In doing so, we will be like Jabez. “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers…” (1 Chron. 4:9). It does not mean he was perfect, but he was blessed. What made him more honorable was his prayer. That is all the man is known for. Can you think of anything better? This man prayed in such a way that God answered his prayer. We need to start every day spending time reading the Bible, not for knowledge, but to know God. We cannot know God apart from spending time with Jesus. We don’t read to check a box on the to-do list, we read to spend time with the God who created us. We have to move from a prayer list to a prayer life! God loves people and of all the people in the world, He wants to spend time with you.
God Uses Pain
Jabez’s very name meant pain, grief, sorrow. Here is Johnny, Suzie, and Pain! You talk about a negative self-image! What label are you wearing? It may be divorce, depression, bankruptcy, addiction. That may be where you have been, but it does not have to define who you are! Life is filled with pain. The pain of the past and pain of the present. A.W. Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can use a man greatly, until he has first hurt him significantly.” There is purpose in the pain. Setbacks in life can be used by God as a setup for blessing. Most people would have talked about their pain, but not Jabez. He did not play the victim. He prayed for blessing. Don’t focus on your pain. Focus on His promise! God will get you through your pain! God does not have to remove the pain to bless you. He can bless you in spite of the pain. Pain does not have the last word on your life. God did not change Jabez’s name, but He changed his future. Jabez prayed, “Lord, don’t let my label be my legacy.”
God Answers Prayer
“And Jabez called on the God of Israel…” (v. 10). Why the God of Israel? Because He is the One and Only True God. Because His love endures forever! Because the gods of this world have eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, noses that cannot smell, mouths that cannot speak, hands that cannot feel, and feet that cannot walk (Ps. 115:4-7). Jabez prayed with passion and he was serious about calling on God. He recognized God as his source and prayed for His presence. He did not want the blessing of God without the presence of God. He did not want the gift without the Giver. “…So, God granted him what he requested.” God is still in the prayer answering business (Jer. 33:3)! Jabez/Pain called on God. Don’t be too proud to admit you are in pain and need God. More than the prayer of Jabez, we need the God of Jabez.