the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
I concluded a previous article by saying “Jabez was blessed because he was a godly man, not because he prayed a particular prayer.” In this week's column I want to examine what made Jabez “honorable” or godly (1 Chronicles 4;9) and thus insured God heard his prayer.
The Bible tells us that when the people of God pray according to the Lord's will, they receive what they ask for (James 4:3, 1 John 5:14). Thus a person may say a particular prayer – and say it very well – but if he is not praying according to God's will his prayer will not be answered. Clearly, the key to effective prayer is petition offered in compliance with the mind of our heavenly Father. And the only way we can learn to pray in a fashion pleasing to our Lord is to reject conformity to this world and instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As the Apostle Paul said, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).
As a godly man, Jabez had offered his body as a living sacrifice to God. He understood that, to do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3) and that the LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him (Proverbs 15:8).
As a godly man Jabez observed the ceremony of the Mosaic ritual but as a means of exhibiting love for Yahweh not as an outward show. He would have taken joy in the opportunity to worship God in the prescribed way. He would have found strength in the religious ceremony Yahweh had provided, ritual designed to impress God's way of thinking upon the mind of man. Moreover, participation in the ritual of worship would have impressed Jabez with the holy character of God and reminded him of the need to be holy – set apart – as God is holy.
Furthermore, as one who loved the LORD his God with all his heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), Jabez would have labored to obey the law of God in every aspect of life, loving his neighbor as himself (Leviticus 19:18). Jabez was a man who recognized that to the LORD ...God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it (Deuteronomy 10:14). In short, Jabez recognized the authority of Yahweh over every part of life and lived accordingly. This is why “God granted his request.”
Therefore, if we hope to experience blessings similar to those enjoyed by Jabez, we must live as he did. We must offer the sincere veneration of a transformed mind (Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:8-10). We must maintain regular, joyful participation in corporate worship (Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:25). We need to carefully imitate Christ in our thoughts, words and deeds (Matthew 11:29, 1 Peter 2:21, 1 John 2:6) and toil to bring our arena of responsibility under the authority of King Jesus. Otherwise, the prayer of Jabez is of no value to us.