Lately, there has been a great deal of buzz about the Prayer of Jabez. The verses that inspired this little book and philosophy are from I Chronicles:
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.
I Chronicles 4:10 NKJV
The general theme of the philosophy is that God wants to bless you, so ask for it. If we ask God for blessings, then He will give them to us. Several people might debate what a “blessing” is. I think that asking for things from God is Biblical. After all, Jesus himself teaches us to ask “this day for our daily bread.” We are to ask God for sustenance.
However, “blessings” tend to get tangled up in “The American Dream.” We are taught to want money, power, and love and so we should ask (or deserve) that from God? Now it gets tricky. There are preachers on television that will tell you that you “deserve” blessings, money, popularity, and love. They teach that God is a vending machine and that the right prayer or supplication will deposit a blessing on demand. This may sound ridiculous, but is our mindset very far off from this? Can “The Prayer of Jabez” be abused and twisted into this thought?
Does God really work that way?
When the Apostle Paul refers to the “heroes of the faith” in Hebrews 13, were these men and women blessed. Absolutely. But did they get what they wanted? Paul tells us they went without food, clothing, or shelter. Is that what we here in America consider “blessed?” Why didn’t God “bless” them?
Or are “blessings” something more than a new car?
What about missionaries and believers who die or are tortured every day for the cause of Christ? Aren’t their prayers to be blessed being answered?
Or is “blessing” more than getting a date with that girl you just can’t survive without?
What about Jesus himself? Didn’t he beg and plead to have God remove “the cup”, the torture and horrid death planned for him? Didn’t he pray to the point of bleeding? Surely God wants to bless His own son?
But Jesus was blessed. Blessed more than man could ever be.
Maybe before God blesses, we need to be broken. Or maybe God blesses us by breaking us. Just possibly, to further the Kingdom of God, something must be taken away rather than given to us. Now there’s a chilling thought. But I know that God has worked that way before. He removed from my life and I praised Him for it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God gave us everything we wanted? We could find the right combination of service and prayer and unlock all our wants. But God doesn’t work that way. He satisfies our needs according to His riches and blesses us on a scale that defies definition and supercedes materialism. God blesses us every day in ways that may not materialize for months or even years, but make no mistake we are blessed.
So come what may, I’ll pray for blessings, knowing they will probably manifest themselves in ways that I could never imagine. I’ll also pray for healing, humility, strength, and dedication, all qualities that I need far more than blessings. That’s the way it should be. If I could put a leash on the Lion of Judah and make him dance on my command, then I would have no God worth worshipping. Thank you Lord, for being the all-consuming fire, the uncontrollable raging storm, and the whispering voice.