The Prayer of Jabez was very popular in Christian song and literature several years ago; I would pray it daily back then; and honestly, I have not remembered to pray it in quite a while. The prayer is written in I Chronicles 4:9, 10, tucked in between stoic rows of genealogy. Genealogy is significant in scripture for use in the tracing of bloodlines; the lineage of Christ can be directly traced back to Abraham (Matthew 1:1-17). The Archaeological Study Bible states, “In societies organized around kinship, genealogies. . . serve as public record that document history, establish identity and/or legitimate office (1559). While genealogies are important, page after page of “begats” can make your eyes start to cross. The Prayer of Jabez is a breath of fresh air in the stone-lined hallways of history. I Chronicles 4:9,10, “And Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. And his mother called his name Jabez, saying because I bore with sorrow. And Jabez called to the God of Israel, saying, If You would bless me, and make my border larger, and Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, so that it may not grieve me! And God gave him what he asked” (The Interlinear Bible). That is all the Bible says about Jabez. Not a word before or after concerning him. This prayer is like a bonus for being faithful to read all the chapters of lineage.
The name Jabez means, “He makes sorrow or height” (Lockyer, ATMOTB, 165). Jabez wasn’t about to let his name, or the circumstances of his birth stand in the way of his relationship with God. He asks for a blessing and asks to have his border made larger. Zabez shows his faith in God by his prayer, “And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive” (Matthew 21:22 The Interlinear Bible). In essence, Zabez is asking, “God bless me, give me more influence, more scope, and open horizons.” Zabez didn’t just ask for more. He asked for more with God’s presence and blessing upon it. No material possession, earthly pleasure or prestigious position is anything but dead without God’s presence and influence in one’s life. With a wink to his sorrowful name, Zabez asks God to keep him from evil, so that it may not grieve him. The grievance asks to be free of grief! Finally, God gave him what he asked. These two little verses in a sea of pedigrees are an encouragement to believers. Despite his unhappy beginnings, Zabez’s faith in God and boldness in prayer changed everything. Remember to pray this prayer and remember, “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and we may find grace for help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 The Interlinear Bible).
Lockyer, Herbert. All the Men of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958.