Do you remember “the prayer of Jabez” – recorded in the Old Testament? There was a popular book years ago called “The Prayer of Jabez.” All that we know about Jabez is included in his prayer in just two verses of Scripture in I Chronicles 4:9-10. But what it a prayer it was!
Jabez prays to God for prosperity – “Oh, that You would bless me, indeed!” What a great example to us – to pray for prosperity in finances, with our family and our spirituality.
Jabez prays for progress – “…and enlarge my territory…” While it is possible he may have wanted God to enlarge his land holdings, I believe his greater emphasis was on enlarging his spiritual capacity, spiritual ability and spiritual influence. Each of us has an influence on others.
Jabez prays for power – “…that Your hand would be with me…” He wanted the power of God to enable him to live righteously, to serve the Lord and to reach others with God’s truth.
He prays for purity – “…and that You would keep me from evil…” Jabez wanted to be kept from evil thoughts and deeds. To this day, we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”
Finally, Jabez prays for pleasure – “…that I may not cause pain!” He wanted to be a blessing and a pleasure to God and man – and not the source of bringing pain to anyone.
The touching capstone to his prayer is the fact that God answered it! “So God granted him what he requested.” What better epitaph could a man have on his life?
I was impressed with the spirituality of American Olympic athletes Simone Manuel and David Boudia, who believe God gave them a public platform for the purpose of bringing glory to Him. Like these Olympic athletes, we should each follow the example of Jabez.
Years ago my friend missionary Don Richardson wrote a book called, Eternity in Their Hearts. The thesis of the book was that no matter where missionaries or anthropologists go – even to the stone age head-hunting cannibals of Indonesia, all peoples discovered seem to have a sense of a Creator God in their cultures and a belief in a great “sky God” in their hearts. The evangelical missionaries build on this belief to bring them to faith in Christ.
One great Christian philosopher put it this way years ago. There is within the heart of every person born into this world a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill.
Jesus was addressing this issue when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.”
God can put a sense of peace in our hearts that can settle all our fears – including the fear of death. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you.”
God has opened a door for me to minister in India each year. In India it is especially important to teach that only Jesus can fill this spiritual void in our hearts. While this is true in all lands, many Indians are Hindus. A Hindu is often willing to add a new God to the pantheon of deities in Hindu belief. But Jesus makes it clear we cannot add Him to other Gods. The Bible teaches salvation exclusively through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
And he can give us eternal peace in our hearts.
We are certainly living in uncertain times. Almost daily the news carries reports of international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and crime. We need to learn to live above fear. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me.” He also asked the disciples, “Why are you so fearful?”
It is easy to be fearful. We tend to fear things we cannot control. Modern terrorism is certainly something we cannot control. Terrorism touches each of our hearts because while we certainly care for the victims, we also realize it could have been us. We may be the next target if we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But Jesus said, “Have faith in God.” With God in control of our destiny, we can realize that we will never be in the wrong place at the wrong time. God is in control. Jesus said, “I have all power in heaven and on earth.” He has the power to protect us. This should give us a confidence to go about our lives without worry or fear.
What if something bad happens? What if we do fall victim to terrorism (or crime)? For the believer, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
And that is not all bad, is it?
Something to think about.