Praying. Right after my kids left for school.Why don’t I do this every day? Why don’t I take the first ten or fifteen or thirty or…whatever is needed minutes of each day to talk to God and to let the Holy Spirit lead my thoughts to the needs of other people. And also, while I am at it, to talk to God about my needs.
I used to think it was selfish to talk to God about my needs. Why would I waste His time with my “of small importance” comments when God is dealing with BIG stuff? Because it isn’t wasting time…Spending time with me doesn’t take time away from His time, resources, energy, love, forgiveness, mercy, etc, etc for others. When I think that God doesn’t have time for me I am seeing God as god. I am limiting someOne who is limitless!
This morning I was thinking of people…praying circles around them…talking. It wasn’t enough for my thoughts to bounce around inside of my head. It seemed important to speak the words out loud. My prayers and hopes and dreams made me think of a short book that an acquaintance gave me about 13 years ago. I took the words of the book to heart back then and for several years afterward. I memorized the short prayer that the book was about …and a copy of the prayer hung on a little piece of paper from my refrigerator for some time.
This is the prayer:
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). Some translations say…”Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from evil so that I will not cause pain.”
Who was Jabez? We don’t really know other than these two verses…so why is he even mentioned? Because he was honorable. Because he prayed sincerely, and determinedly to God. In James 5:16 we are told, ” The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” An earnest, fervent prayer, prayed humbly is honorable before God. Humble prayers can still be bold. Humble prayers are not the same as weak prayers. Humble prayers address God as our Father and Creator. We are not equal…humble prayers make it clear that we know that we are not telling God what we want, but we are asking God what He wants…because when we are humble we are submitting that God knows best. God knows best for us. For all. Because God knows all.
Jabez requested a personal blessing. He wanted a favor…he wanted God to do something for him…and that is not wrong. God wants us to ask…and God wants to give. First, Jabez asked God to enlarge his territory. This may relate to material prosperity. For me, because I don’t care much about stuff, to enlarge my territory would be to enlarge my sphere of influence…for God to help me reach as many people as possible to share His Word.
Jabez prayed to God that His hand would be with Jabez to provide protection and guidance. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” This gives me assurance that even though I don’t think I am ready to do anything special, that God can use me if I will just let Him because He has given me everything I need to succeed…I am his child, Jesus came to earth to show me how to live, and the Holy Spirit is present within me and wants to shine through me …if I will just let Him. God does not force His will. God wants us to choose Him. When we choose Him then we are His and He is ours and we will know His voice… and He will speak to us. He may never say, “CHRISTY!!!!~ PICK YOURSELF UP AND GO WRITE ABOUT JABEZ!!!!~” In a BIG BOOMING Hollywood voice. But He can work in me through a prompting of the Holy Spirit… Go share. Go tell others what you are thinking. Go now. Don’t wait. Don’t waste this moment because it will not be here again. Go. Share.
And Jabez asked God to keep Him from evil. Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “… deliver us from evil”…There is evil…constantly. And the closer we are to God the more fun the evil one has trying to separate us from that relationship.
It is a case of the “frienemy” (AKA : A “toxic” person who poses as a friend but subconsciously or consciously wishes you harm)…who says negative things in your ear about our loyal and true friend. The “frienemy” wants to take you away from our true friend… and will lie and deceive to make us doubt… turn our head and make us insecure. This is the harm that we need protection from…And evil knows that if he is successful, that our being separated from the love of God is the only thing that can really cause us harm. And the only way that can happen is if we turn from God. God will never turn from us. Be ware and diligent and don’t let evil get a foothold in your door. Once the foot is in it is only a matter of time until he sweet talks his way inside completely and takes over. If evil has a foot in your door now…ask God to give you strength to slam that puppy shut! But that is not the last you will see of evil. He will try all kinds of tricks and disguises to get a foot back in the door. That is why we must know God’s voice. Because if we have a relationship with God and know His voice…then we will also know voices that are not our friends or friends with God…and before we even open that door a crack we can say, “Go AWAY! You are not Welcome HERE! And I will NOT let you in…and if you sneak in some way, I have very powerful true friends who I will ask to remove you!” “You are not a friend to me. You wish me harm…I am not here to spend my time with you. You distract me from the good that I am here to do. Be gone.”
God, protect us from evil. Keep us from harm.
Jabez name implied pain, and he did not want that name. He did not want his name to be who he was. And we are told that God granted all that Jabez requested. God promises to all of us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” Matthew 7:7-8. God knows what we need…He wants to know that we know too. He may not give us exactly what we ask for or in the timing we had in mind…But He hears and responds to the prayers of His people. He is the source of every good and perfect gift. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
God is constant. Instead of telling God what we want, why don’t we ask Him first what He wants for us. Those are the promises that I want to circle in prayer because those are the ones that I know will be done. Your will be done. I am asking. I am seeking. Show me where to walk. Let me share your Word. Protect me. Let me only help and never harm. I am asking. I know You hear. Thank You. Amen.