Today’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 3-5
Today’s Reflection: 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
9) Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10) 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.
Just a few years ago the ‘prayer of Jabez’ was the hottest thing in Evangelical Christianity. Everyone was trying to grow their church membership, grow their business, get a better car, or a bigger house by repeating his simple prayer (while oversimplifying and completely missing the point of Bruce Williamson’s wonderful book “The Prayer of Jabez” by attempting to turn it into a spiritual get-rich-quick scheme).
The truth is Jabez has a simple yet profound story that applies to each of us. In Biblical times, names meant much more than they do now. Names were blessings, denoting parents wish for what that child would grow to become and accomplish. In some notable cases names were given by God Himself, making them prophesies of that child’s future. Each time that child was addressed it would be a reminder of the promise he or she held. But a name could also be a curse, as was the case with Jabez. Each time he heard his name it was a reminder that his mother’s thought of him was ‘pain’ and that he was expected to continue causing pain throughout his life. Jabez was honourable in God’s sight, so when he prayed God granted his desire. And Jabez’ desire was to be a source of blessing, not a source of pain.
We’re all like Jabez to some degree. Some of you have been given names that remind you of things you would rather forget. Some of you have good names, but your choices and actions have linked negative reputations to those names. Perhaps your behaviour in a particular relationship has caused your name to become like a curse to someone you once cared for, or someone you still do care for. In all of these cases, your name, whenever it is spoken, brings pain, to you or to others.
The good news is you can be free from causing pain through Jesus Christ. Your character can be reformed so you can be one who honours God and who’s earnest prayers are heard and answered. Your mistakes can be forgiven, your name redeemed, your reputation restored, and your purpose increased so you can glorify God. It’s not a formula or a trick, but the Jabez prayer represents an aspect of the relationship he had with God. This can be part of your relationship with God too.