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Friday, December 7, 2012

A New Look at the Prayer of Jabez

Some of us have studied the prayer of Jabez. Many of us have it highlighted in our Bibles, and have prayed for the Lord to guide us, to enlarge our boundaries, to bless us, and to keep us safe from the terror of pain. It reminds us even though pain may have defined our past, that now in Jesus Christ it no longer defines us. We trust and believe in a Savior who carries us through the storms of life and sets our feet on a solid rock above the waves that lash out to destroy.

Today I would like to challenge you to consider two different versions of 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: the New International Version and the New Kings James Version. Especially look at verse 10, and the last request in Jabez's prayer.

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, 'Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.' And God granted his request” (NIV).

“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” (NKJ).

Do you see the change in focus in the different versions? One asks that “I will be free of pain”, and the other asks that “I might not cause pain”. The focus shifts from the “I” of my own self-consideration, to a concern that I might not hurt another person.

Both focuses are right. Both are correct, and both are naturally born from this prayer. Prayer may begin with the concerns that I have in my own life, but should always move to concern for the needs of others. If we desire the Lord to truly guide us and enlarge our areas of influence, we must learn to focus on others instead of ourselves. It is in giving ourselves away that we find healing, and freedom from pain in our own lives. We should always ask if our actions and words bring healing or cause pain.

What does the prayer of Jabez say to you in light of these two versions? Perhaps you might look at another version and find another perspective. Explore where your focus really rests in your own life, and be sure that everything you do and say takes in consideration the pain that another might experience. What God gives in return is the first part of Jabez's prayer! I find that I am blessed if the “concern” of my prayer has been for others. Discover your own “concern”. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through this incredible prayer!

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