Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24, 2012 … Life Changing Prayer

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: 1st Chronicles, Chapters 3-5 … To study these chapters, go to this link -
Highlight Passage: … 1st Chronicles 4: 9-10 ... 9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."10 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. 

My Journal for Today: Well, here I am this morning, back in the book of 1st Chronicles, where God is listing and helping the people remember all the chosen peoples who came before them; and today, the reading assignment being 1st Chronicles, Chapters 3-5, it was not difficult for me to locate a highlight passage; because in these chapters. in what many consider a very dull listing of God’s peoples after the Babylonian captivity, we come upon that little segment where one man and his prayer is documented.

This, of course, is the two verses in 1st Chronicles which were popularized a few years ago by Rev. Bruce Wilkinson, who wrote a smash, landmark best seller, entitled The Prayer of Jabez, a book which was on the best seller lists for months and sold mega-millions of copies. And it began a series of books by Dr. Wilkinson called the “Breakthrough Series,” leading to a ministry, about which the reader here can read by going to this link. But I’m not here today to promote Dr. Wilkinson or his ministry; I’m here today because of what God shared with His people in 1st Chronicles in those two brief verses, highlighted and copied above, as a powerful documentation of one man’s life and one man’s prayer.

And as you’re reading through these chapters with me, one can’t help but be surprised that, of all the people listed and chronicled in 1st Chronicles, the author of the book stops to document only one by anything that man did or said; and that one is the man Jabez. All these people; and only one is cited by God’s word for something special; and that something special is the man’s prayer life. And not only that, God’s word cites what this man’s prayer life was all about.

Now, I’ve read Bruce Wilkinson’s book about Jabez’s prayer; and I know the book has been somewhat controversial in Christian circles. In fact if you have about 30 minutes and you’d like to hear Wilkinson commenting on The Prayer of Jabez, as well as two of his subsequent books, you can go to this link for Dr. W being interviewed.

But you don’t need to research Dr. W’s book[s] to see that God’s word does, in fact, separate this man, Jabez, out; and it does so by documenting, rather specifically, his prayer life. And in doing that, we actually have a model prayer which could be used, as Wilkinson teaches, as a template for our prayer life.

And for what does Jabez pray? Well, he prays (and I might add, he cries out to God in prayer, emotionally) for God to help him avoid that for which he was named (“jabez” in Hebrew means “pain”). And even more specifically Jabez prays for four things … [1] that God would bless him, [2] that God would enlarge his territory, [3] that God’s hand would be upon him, and [4] that God would protect him from harm and pain. And then the author of 1st Chronicles documents that God granted Jabez a “YES” answer to his prayers.

Now, I’m not going to go into all the ramifications of how this can be interpreted or how the prayer of this man, Jabez, might lead you to alter your prayer life. This, of course, Dr. Wilkinson has written about in his book. But I will say that Jabez, being cited as special by God’s word in the midst of all of these people who were merely named; and having that special citation be because of Jabez’s prayer life, is impressive to me; and most certainly this little segment in 1st Chronicles is a reminder to me that my prayer life could be more active and powerful as I live out my life, like Jabez, certainly seeking God’s blessing and His protection from harm and pain.

I’ll leave it to you to meditate on this little passage in the midst of God’s chronicles and see how it influences you. Maybe you might want to read Wilkinson’s book. But certainly I think we could all let this little passage be a prompt to do a self inventory of the quality/quantity of our prayer life … and to see if we believe that God, as He did with Jabez, truly honors His children who prayer ardently and often, from a heart of humility and total obedience, as was modeled by the prayer life of His Son, Jesus, asking our God to bless us and to protect us ever day.

 How about you? Are you like me and convicted today to be more like Jabez? What would happen if all of us prayed humbly, and with a contrite heart, for God’s blessing and protection? Wilkinson clams it would change your life; … what do you think?

My Prayer Today: … Lord, You know my heart. You hear my prayers today. And I do seek Your blessing and protection this day and all days. Amen

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