To continue from yesterday’s post, I ended with what Wilkinson left out in the book, The Prayer of Jabez. The last line of Jabez’ prayer reads, “that I may not cause pain.” Jabez asks God to keep him from evil so that he would not cause pain. Why did Jabez make this request?
In those days, and even still in some cultures, NAME meant something. A person’s name described their character, the situation of their birth, an expectation, the faith of their parents, and if you know your Bible you know that God sometimes changed people’s names to show His work in their lives. For example, Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Simon to Peter, and Saul to Paul. Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, means deceiver, and if you’ve ever read Jacob’s story in Genesis you know he fulfilled the meaning of his name and then some. When he finally slowed down enough to do business with God, God changed his name to Israel. NAME means something!
According to the HCSB Study Bible, the name Jabez literally means “he afflicts, gives pain.” Let’s look at the whole context of Jabez prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10:
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother named him Jabez and said, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez called out to the God of Israel: “If only You would bless me, extend my border, let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm, so that I will not cause any pain.” And God granted his request.
Can you imagine going through your whole life being associated with another person’s pain? Every time you hear your name, it is a reminder that you are the source of pain in others’ lives. Every time you look at your mother, you are reminded that you caused her sorrow and grieving. What if you knew that others expected their dealings with you to bring about pain – after all that was what your mother named you, that was her experience, and the name has not been changed – you are the bringer of pain. It makes my heart grieve just thinking about it.
And yet, the writer of Chronicles records that “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.” Honor was of utmost importance in this culture. Honor put the good of the community, the family, before the wants of the individual. If you’re interested in a more in-depth discussion on honor, you are welcome to check out my earlier post, A Question of Honor. I hear a heart of humility in Jabez’ prayer. A heart that has been broken and softened by his experiences. A heart that longs to know intimacy with the God who created him. A heart that desires to display God’s character in all he does. A heart that has learned what it means to want more than just survival and status quo. A heart that wants to change hiStory and claim his inheritance as a child of God.
Jabez requested of God that He would keep Jabez from evil – literally from harm, grief, misery, adversity, wrong – so that he would not cause more pain – to worry, pain or anger :- displease, grieve, hurt, make, be sorry, vex, worship, wrest. Do you see the correlation here? Do you get why Jabez requested what he requested of God? Jabez was honorable. He desired to affect the good of the clan and the nation above his own good. And I believe according to this text, he desired the good of God, the good NAME of God above all else. He longed for his life to be an open display of the character and provision of God. Yes, LORD!
So God granted him what he requested.
Yesterday’s post ended with these two lines: I am kept from evil. And I do walk in victory. That is my personal application. My name means a symbol of victory. The laurel wreath was placed on the heads of the victors. A laureate is a person who has been honored for achieving distinction in a particular field or with a particular award (from the dictionary app on my phone).
My prayer is to be kept from the evil and harm of pride and self-reliance, of believing I can succeed and handle life on my own without God’s power and supply. SO THAT, God is glorified and praised for every victory in my life. So that, He alone will be honored to achieving distinction through the gifts He has so freely given to me. So that, in the end, when the day comes that I am standing face-to-face in His Presence, I can lovingly and joyfully place every crown at the feet of Jesus, recognizing that it is His and His alone in the first place.
O, LORD God, Father, Papi, that You would bless me indeed – make Yourself known through me, pour out Your love and goodness through me! – and enlarge my territory – teach me how to live into my full inheritance in Christ, to reclaim the years the locusts have eaten, to see Your redemption in every moment of my story, to increase the ministry of my life in the hearts of others – that Your hand would be with me – Your strength and Your Presence and Your power supplying the direction and fulfillment of Your plans for my life – and that You would keep me from evil – keep me from pride and self-reliance and believing the honor belongs to me, rather than to You – that I may not cause pain! – that Your victory, the very power of the Resurrected Christ, would be displayed in and through my life, every moment. Honor and glory and victory belong to You alone! – So God granted him what he requested. – So be it! In faith, I believe Your promises; I trust You to finish what You have begun in my life! I receive what I am requesting from Your hand!
I encourage you to personalize this prayer for yourself. What identity comes with your name? What identity is related to you through your past? What are the challenges of your character? Personalize your request before God. Make it real and tangible. And then lay it at the foot of the cross and trust the Resurrected Christ to bring redemption, restoration, and resurrection into your life!
It is His promise and His purpose!