Jabez was a man who is briefly mentioned in a genealogical list. He’s noted as being “more righteous than his brothers” and having a name which means “to cause pain” during birth. His prayer is simple and beautiful and has been used many times as a way for Christians to pray to a genie of a God who will magically unlock material blessings for them on Earth. But the prayer of Jabez is so much more than that; it’s a plea to a sovereign, providential God to allow him a larger territory and the grace and protection to take care of it.
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
To the Believer today, especially those of us in middle or high school, we’re not exactly asking God for real estate (unless you’re Lucy from Charlie Brown’s Christmas). But the prayer of Jabez is no less relaevant to us as it was back then to Jabez because we are given “territory,” if you will. We are given influence with our peers. We are given a voice to be heard in our schools. We are given a platform in the classroom, in the cafeteria, on our social media accounts, in our households, even, to be ambassadors of the gospel. And with mission work comes snares from the enemy who will stop at nothing to hinder us in our endeavors, so of course we too need to pray as Jabez did that God’s hand will protect us from harm and give us the grace to sustain us as we work the harvest for Him.
So the prayer is not for selfish intent; it’s meant to be prayed by bold, courageous Believers who ask God for more, and who throw themselves on His mercy and grace to protect them along the way.