The other day I caused someone pain. The incident immediately brought to mind Bruce Wilkinson’s little book “The Prayer of Jabez.” The name Jabez means ‘pain’ and he didn’t want to cause any pain, so he prayed to God this prayer:
Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that you would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! (I Chron. 4:10)
I had made a phone call, left a message, and thought I’d hung up. But I hadn’t – the phone was still live. I went on to make a comment – not horrible, more sarcastic, but it was heard and caused pain for that person – and me. I was heartsick. I asked myself – was it really heard? Should I Wait? Maybe God will work it out.
I continued to weigh the possible repercussions. I lost some sleep and a couple of pounds but, of course, I knew I had to call and apologize and, more importantly, ask forgiveness. More Pain! But I did it. Lesson learned: I prayed the Jabez prayer. Although Wilkinson does a great job of unpacking the prayer in his book, I tried to personalize it so I could feel what God wanted me to learn.
Bless me indeed – I know God is good and He wants to bless me with His goodness. I believe He wants me to have supernatural favor. In my family we call it the FOG (Favor of God). I don’t want to use God like an ATM. I only want what He wants for me. That removes performance-based, hoop-jumping faith. It removes “I’ll do this if you do that” faith, God is not interested in a “Let’s Make a Deal” kind of faith. Real faith is a deeper, more intimate relationship with God whose very nature is to bless – and my very nature is to ask!
Enlarge my territory – I am ready for it. Ready to do more. To serve more. I tell God I want all You’ve got so I can be all I can be – for You! I can almost feel God smiling and planning my divine appointments.
That your hand would be with me – means I want to feel God’s presence and power heavy on me as I depend on Him every step of the way. Acts 11:21 says it best: And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
Keep me from evil – Jabez must have been very smart. His strategy was simply to ask for God’s help and protection to keep him away from temptation. Even Jesus prayed: lead us not into temptation but deliver is from evil.
Jabez believed that his God would do what he asked and I Chron. 4:10 says God did so. Verse 9 tells us Jabez was an honorable man, so I can believe he never knowingly caused pain. I asked that I wouldn’t, either, as I contemplated the call I had to make. My Father God, of course, gave me some directions and stipulations.
He brought to my attention a book I read often by Andrew Murray called “Humility.” I am not fond of this book because it hurts my flesh. But the truths in it are worth accepting the discipline. God took me to a section that is one of my favorites that I love to hate! You’ll see why. Murray states:
“At first it may appear hard; this is only because of the pride which still counts itself something. If once we learn that to be nothing before God is the glory of man, the spirit of Jesus, the joy of heaven, we will welcome with our whole heart the discipline we may have in serving even those who try to vex us. When our own heart is set upon true sanctification, we will study each word of Jesus on humility with new zest and no place will be too low. No stooping will be too deep and no service too mean or too long continued, if we may but share and prove the fellowship with Him who spoke: I am among you as he that serveth.” (Luke 22:27)
As I made the call that I knew I had to make, of course God decided to give me a double dose of “what’s good for you.” The words of I Cor.13:1 were sounded in my spirit by the Holy Spirit:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. Love was the order.
Bottom line for the call:
Reason: I caused pain
Attitude: I must humble myself
Words: I must speak love (I don’t like brass or cymbals)
ROMANS 8:28 WINS AGAIN!