The prayer of Jabez found in 1 Chronicles 4 has received a lot of attention lately. Unfortunately, some have misinterpreted and misapplied this passage. They would have us believe God is withholding bushels of blessings from us and all we have to do is ask and the floodgates will open and we will be swamped with health, wealth, and success. Because of the prevalence of this mindset, many evangelicals now approach the prayer very cautiously and with a certain amount of cynicism.
The prayer goes like this: “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!” (verse 10) This brings two questions to my mind. Is it wrong to ask God to bless us? And, what is the blessing?
First, no, it is not wrong to ask God to bless us if we are not asking for selfish gain. This is where the popular view of Jabez’s prayer falters. People have some how gotten the idea that all we need to do is ask God and He will shower us with material blessings or give us “the desires of our heart.” If we ask God to bless us for material gain or selfish indulgence it is wrong!
Second, the blessing for which Jabez prayed, and for which we should also pray, is that we may be used of God to be a blessing to others. Do you see it? The blessing is simply knowing that God is sovereignly working through us to bless others. So the blessing is not necessarily material wealth, health, or success (although God may choose to use those avenues), the blessing is being a humble vessel available for His use.
If you notice in 1 Chronicles 4:10 after Jabez’s prayer is recorded it states that “God granted him what he requested.” God answered his prayer because Jabez prayed with a heart of humility and submission, not out of greed or selfishness. So pray for God to bless you. Pray every day for God to bless you by using you as a channel through which to bless others.