Currently I am studying 1 Chronicles, and am at the beginning – reading (OK, flitting) through the list of names and families. Anyway, on Saturday I came to 1 Chronicles 4:10 which reads:
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.
Quite an innocuous prayer, albeit a little self-oriented? However, it rang bells for me because I have seen lots of attention given to this – more than one would expect.
This, according to some, is a prayer to be said daily, and God will grant your request. Well, we could put aside for a while the presumption and manipulation of a ‘prayer’ that seeks to use God to get the desired-for outcome.
No, I want to reflect just a little on the mindset of a culture that makes this prayer a kind of idol. I guess we shouldn’t be overly surprised that it would become a kind of craze in our over-fed, over-comfortable culture. Enlarge my territory….keep me from harm….and whatever you do keep me from pain.
What I’d suggest to you is that pain is not always a bad thing. Pain tells you that you are alive, pain tells you if there is something wrong. If I understand it rightly, lepers hurt themselves because they feel no pain – they may have a hand on a lit stove and not know it.
I would suggest further to you that many in the west are infected with a spiritual leprosy brought on by an acute case of affluenza. Things are wrong with us, very very wrong. But we don’t want to feel the pain, don’t want to feel the curse that worshipping our crushing wealth has brought upon us.
So for us, my prayer would be that God in His mercy would not grant us Jabez request, but would show His love and kindness, and wake us – by whatever means necessary – to our spiritual apathy and blindness.
I don’t welcome pain, and the Jabez prayer sounds most comforting, but I think it is the very last thing in the world that we in the west need right now.
Perhaps we might like to try the Lords prayer daily, instead.