And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.
1 Chronicles 4:10
We could say Jabez practiced the spiritual principle, “You don’t have because you don’t ask”(James 4:2) when he asked God for a lot. Boldness in prayer delights God’s heart. He is thrilled when His children barge into the throne room and trust him to be generous with them.
Some would wisely warn us to watch out for wrong motives. Certainly our selfishness can distort any prayer or longing, but too much caution can cripple our spiritual lives, if we are bold enough to enter the throne room and ask for great things, we open ourselves to God so He can correct impure motives. Interaction with God is the open door for both blessing and correction, and to be honest, most of us need both!
Notice the content of Jabez’s prayer. He asked God to enlarge his territory. In that day, land and livestock were signs of wealth, and Jabez unapologetically asked God to bless Him. But he didn’t just want to be rich, he wanted to experience God’s presence and pleasure. He prayed that he would sense the hand of God on his life, and he also asked that God’s hand would direct him and protect him from evil. The part of Jabez’s request that tells us the most about his heart is the last part: “that I may not cause pain.” He was a humble man who recognized his sinful nature’s penchant for selfish gain at others’ expense, so he asked God to guide him away from anything that might harm anyone else.
The writer tells us that God answered Jabez’s prayer. It doesn’t say when or how, but we learn that God, like any loving father, delights in giving good gifts to grateful children. Boldness and humility- those are the ingredients of prayers that delight our Father.
You don’t pay for success; you enjoy the benefits of success.
Prayers are heard in heaven very much in proportion to our faith. Little faith will get very great mercies, but great faith still greater.
The size of our prayers indicates the size of our God. When we only pray little prayers, with our fingers crossed, hopeful that just maybe our number will come up, we minimize the greatness of God. When we think that God is so busy with all the big problems in the world that He doesn’t have time for our needs, we minimize the vastness of God. When we just ask God to give some human wisdom or knowledge to know how to fix our problem, we make God little more than a facilitator who orchestrates but never acts Himself.
To be sure we ought to pray about the big world problems. We ought to pray for others and it is right to walk in humility considering the needs of others. We ought to be thankful for all the knowledge and wisdom that God has endowed humans with. But we must remember that God is much more than any of this and He is delighted when His children ask for “big” things. When we read the gospels, we find many people who asked Jesus for big things. The lepers with an incurable disease, Mary asking for wine at a wedding, the disciples asking to be saved in the storm, Lazarus being raised from the dead and blind men asking for sight are a few examples. In each case, we find the picture of Christ who with great delight answers the requests.
In Acts we find that the church prayed for more boldness. They prayed that prayer in the face of intense persecution and did God ever answer that prayer as the message of Christ began to spread throughout the whole world.
I love the simplicity and the absolute faith of children. They haven’t learned to be skeptical. Their God is a big God who can do anything. Their trust in Him and His power is amazing. I’m sure that this kind of faith delights God.
In the Old Testament we read of Joshua in battle who asked God to cause the sun to stand still. And do you know what? The Bible says it stood still for about a day and the Israelites won the battle. Now I know some of us will say, “That’s impossible, no way God stopped the earth and sun and planets and galaxies in place for one little man. Why if that were so the whole universe would have been in chaos with galaxies colliding.” The reason we would say that is because our God is smaller than the universe. We forget that God stood on nothing and spoke to nothing and everything that is came into being by His creative power. I submit that if God created the universe, and He did, if He chose to stop everything in its place He could and He did.
Oh the we might begin to believe in the bigness of God, to see that “with God all things are possible.”
As Jesus comes to the end of His ministry, He begins to teach the disciples about asking God for great things. Listen to His words:
In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name [as My representative], He will give you. Until now you have not asked [the Father] for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete.
As I read this passage, I think about all the disciples had asked of Jesus. I think about when He was asleep on the boat and they woke Him and asked Him to save them and He rebuked the wind and seas and they stood still. I think about when they were in the wilderness for days and the multitude was hungry and they asked Jesus to do something. They though He would send the people away to fend for themselves but instead He multiplied five loaves and two fish and everybody was fed. They must have been awestruck when Jesus called Lazarus from the dead and now Jesus was saying to them, “You really haven’t asked the Father for anything.” What I believe Christ is saying is that all you’ve seen and experienced is nothing in comparison to the capabilities and desires of the Father. “So ask,” He says, “and keep on asking and you will receive so that your joy may be full.”
I love what Ziglar says when he says that if we are coming boldly into the throne room, the presence of God, we can be assured that God will not only answer our requests but that He will also correct our attitude and motive so that we “don’t ask amiss.”
As we prepare to enter a new year, it’s time for bold prayers. I think that the church ought to pray for greater light, greater influence, greater manifestation of the Holy Spirit, more boldness to witness, increase and growth, and power over fear and evil.
I think that individuals ought to pray for greater faith, power over the influence of the world, greater trust in the ability of God in personal matters, greater experiences in God, more assurance that family and friends who don’t know Christ will come home, and more grace to believe that noting is impossible with God no matter how difficult something may seem.
May the boldness and the largeness of our prayers proclaim the greatness of our God!
Dr. John Thompson