Jabez was one of the few people mentioned in the Bible who wasn’t as outstanding as David, Daniel, or Joseph the dreamer. He wasn’t a king nor a prophet. But we are given enough family background to know a little about him. He was your average Hebrew guy, a minor “character”.
Then one day, someone analyzed what this minor Bible person said and made a book about it. The usually overlooked man has become the rave of many. We may be very familiar about this book. It’s called “The Prayer of Jabez”. The book focuses on two simple verses – two simple verses that changed the course of life of not only one individual, but many.
This book sold thousands, maybe even more. It was popular as a helping tool to understand how easy it is to pray. I guess that’s the intention of the writer: to make it known to people that praying is not as hard as they think to be.
As many as people think that the book is great, as much as people raved about it, there were still people who were able to find loopholes. They claim that the focus on Jabez was too materialistic and that his prayer was selfish. We couldn’t blame them because that was how they viewed it. But they missed a very important point. The readers failed to pick it up, and the author failed to convey that point properly.
Who is Jabez exactly? Jabez was a man born into the clan of Judah. He grew to become more honorable compared to his brothers. Yet it wasn’t so easy-breezy for this man. You see, when he was birthed by his mother, she suffered an excruciating labor. Because of that, she named her son a name that sounds like the Hebrew word for pain. That’s the story of Jabez’s name. Imagine that all throughout his life he was being called ‘pain’. It was as if he was destined to be thorn to everyone’s lives just because of his name. A single name, a single word and his whole life was laid down to become a nuance to the people around him. Words are that powerful.
Then one day, fed up with how he was being mistreated, Jabez uttered his famous prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10.
“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.”
The moment this man was named, it was set for life that he will be considered a great pain to anyone near him. Why would an employer hire someone with a name that sounds like the word for pain? The employer would believe Jabez would only cause him trouble. That was Jabez’s destiny – be the causer of pain.
Jabez didn’t want to be the unfortunate one anymore. So he prayed frankly and wholeheartedly to God. He asked to be kept from harm and be freed of pain. He asked to be blessed and disprove that he is only a pain and will bring no good. With his words, he prayed to be free of the negative destiny and live God’s destiny.
Jabez’s prayer wasn’t just about having prosperity. Jabez’s prayer was about changing his life. That’s the point the author of the book “The Prayer of Jabez” missed. Jabez prayed to live a better life free of pain. Jabez’s words had the power to change the course of his life. With a single word he was destined to be a bearer of pain all through out his life. And with the words he prayed to God, his life turned and became free of pain.
Like Jabez, we can change our destiny too. By changing what we proclaim in our life, we’ll be able – with God’s assistance – to change our destiny.
Words are that powerful. It could either bless someone or break another one. Just look at Jabez’s life. We should be careful with the words we live by. That’s why we should live by the Word of God – the most powerful of all.