In the midst of all the names of 1 Chronicles we come upon 4:9-10....
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”[b] 10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm[c] so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
Of course, this brings to mind the bestseller The Prayer of Jabez, written by Bruce Wilkinson. This book also happens to make a Top 10 List - of books Christians would be better off NOT reading. Quite frankly, I'm naturally suspect of any book marketed as a Christian book, that makes the secular best sellers list. Books that are doctrinally sound do not tend to tickle the ears of our fickle and self-centered society.
Granted, the book had some good points (but again, as we've seen in our discussions of false teachers recently, the "best" false teaching has a fair bit of truth sprinkled in, the better to deceive you with). It encourages prayer, it even encourages praying with a focus on ministry instead of our personal lives. But it also treats God as a genie whom we can manipulate by praying a certain way, and that God's power is limited by our prayers - none of which is biblical. It takes one verse out of context, from a passage that is not a passage on prayer, and turns it into a prayer formula to get what we want from God, and it falls pretty much into the prosperity gospel camp.
What DO we know about the prayer of Jabez?
Ray Stedman has an excellent sermon about it. We know that Jabez was born to a family with dishonorable sons, to a mother who endured sorrow in her life, and without a father being mentioned. This father possibly lost their property in a shameful way, necessitating Jabez's prayer. Somehow Jabez had been taught (possibly by his mother, though that is inferred) about God and that He answers prayer. And so Jabez prayed, and God granted what he asked. Does this mean God will always grant all our prayers? No. What it does mean is that what Jabez prayed for was in line with God's will for him and so God answered his prayer. God was faithful. And He will be faithful to us as well, though perhaps in a different way.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Chronicles 7-9, Luke 1:21-38