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The Prayer of Jabez

The Jabez You Never Knew - Introduction

"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 4:9-10 KJV

The current worldwide prayer movement has become a spiritual phenomenon that has mobilized the church like never before. It has brought the intercessory prayers of the saints to bear on the 10/40 window with tremendous results for the glory of God. This intense global prayer plays a major roll in the end time events that mark the season of the Lords return (Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4).

However, with every movement there inevitably comes the misapplication of biblical truth. Whether it has come from an overzealous lack of knowledge or an outright attempt at deception, the same thing has happened within certain areas of the prayer movement. Similarly, I believe much of the teaching surrounding the prayer of Jabez is one of those areas.

The prayer of Jabez has become a rave among many in the Christian community around the world. I first discovered this while on an extended ministry trip to Southeast Asia, where I heard Christians praying this prayer in semi-rote fashion.

I quickly learned that people were doing this because a growing number of international Christian leaders "guaranteed" that by praying this prayer three or four times a day God would be obligated to answer it just as He did for Jabez. Many even promised that the lives of people who regularly prayed this prayer would be "marked by miracles," and that the time table for these "guaranteed miracles" was generally around "30 days."

Because of my Hebraic understanding of Scripture, I was horrified at this theology. Anyone who studies the Bible with even the smallest degree of Hebraic hermeneutics knows that any kind of rote prayer has never and will never work to produce God's blessing. "Praying through" according to the will of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit is one thing, but repetitive prayer for the purpose of compelling God into doing something favorable on our behalf is not the way of Jehovah (YHVH).

Rote vs Righteous Prayer

This type of repetitive prayer to acquire something from God has it's origins in ancient pagan religion that goes all the way back to Nimrod's Babylon. Today, this practice has evolved into an assortment of ritualistic prayers which use everything from "prayer wheels" to various types of beads for counting the number of times each prayer is repeated.

Abstaining from this form of pagan mantra is what Jesus was referring to when He said:

"And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles [heathens] do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him." (Matthew 6:7-8)

In other words, God will not give us what we want just because we pray a certain prayer three or four or even a 1,000 times in a day. When we do this, we are putting our trust in the prayer instead of God, and it becomes a form of idolatry.

From a Hebraic perspective, prayers recorded in the Bible were never intended to be repeated verbatim by successive generations as a way of getting God to move. They were recorded to provide a historical record of how heartfelt, Spirit led, obedience driven prayer moves the heart of God.

They also supply us with an outline when formulating our own prayers. We know this is true because, immediately after telling us not to pray repetitious prayers, Jesus gives us what seems to be a repetitious entreaty known as the "Lord's Prayer" (Matthew 6:9-13). This appears contradictory unless we understand that, in the Hebraic culture, the rabbis would often put forth prayer outlines. These outlines were simply reminders to include certain points within their prayers that were scripturally pleasing to God. This type of prayer outline is actually what many Bible scholars believe Jesus gave us in the "Lord's Prayer."

In this light, I believe the prayer of Jabez can be used as the same type of prayer outline, but I don't believe that God ever intend for it to be prayed verbatim in a repetitive fashion. That is because God only answers prayer that is from a Spirit led heart of love and obedience to Him, which is exactly the way Jabez offered his prayer. Unfortunately, this pure and simple prayer has been turned into a religious chant for obtaining success that Jesus said we should not emulate.

Praying Amiss

The biggest mistake people make in their prayer life is that they "ask amiss." Their lack of knowledge concerning God's ways allows them to fall into the trap of believing that their own agenda and lustful desires are the will of God. This causes them to pray after those lusts and consequently their prayers go unanswered:

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." (James 4:3)KJV

They do not know God's will because they have never allowed Him to write His laws (Torah) upon their hearts, which is the primary way He makes Himself and His will known to us (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 40:8). Seeking after their own desires instead of God's indicates their hearts are filled with a measure of iniquity, in which case the Lord will not hear their prayer:

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." (Ps 66:18)KJV

Whenever Israel asked for God's blessing while simultaneously walking in disobedience, Scripture teaches that God became "angry" with their prayers (Psalms 80:4). They were going through all the ceremony and programmed ritual of playing church, but they were walking in sin (Isaiah 1:10-15). They even fell into the same pagan trap of offering repetitious prayer like many in the church today. Whenever this happens, God hides Himself and refuses to hear our prayers:

"So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you, yes, even though you multiply [repeat] prayers, I will not listen." (Isaiah 1:15)NAS

Solomon also makes it clear that, if we refuse to obey God's Torah, He views our prayers in a very negative light:

"He who turns away his ear from listening to the law [Torah], even his prayer is an abomination." (Proverbs 28:9)NAS

The Purpose of This Book

The purpose of this book is not to discredit the prayer of Jabez, but to help the body of Messiah Jesus understand that God does not answer prayer just because we pray. He answers prayers that are in line with His will and come from a heart of love for God. This love always results in obedience to His word, which leads us to walk upright and righteous before Him. Under these circumstances, God not only hears our prayers, but He delights in them:

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight... The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous." (Proverbs 15:8, 29)NAS

In this light, we will see that the prayer of Jabez is not about the prayer itself, but an honorable man named Jabez and His relationship with Jehovah God. This makes Jabez the perfect study for establishing the real reason why God "granted him all that which he requested."