How the Prayer of Jabez Changes Our Identity

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woman kneeling in green field with hands raised praying

It’s just like God to tuck two life-changing verses right in the middle of 9 chapters of genealogies, reminding us that although we may be tempted to skip parts of the Bible, it is important to carefully read even the parts that may seem uninteresting, because we might find great treasure there.

There isn’t much that is known about Jabez, except what can be found in these two, short verses.

But what we learn about him, and the powerful prayer he prayed, is enough to cause us to ask ourselves if we are allowing our past to determine our future.

How the Prayer of Jabez Changes Our Identity

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 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!”

1 Chronicles 4:9-10

I remember when I first heard what has been termed “The Prayer of Jabez”. It was in the 1990’s and a book was written about this powerful prayer.

As is often the case, the book became heavily marketed, and it was as if these two verses became less of a prayer and more like a formula – like magic words that we pray.

I am sure the author never intended, or even wanted this.

It was the unintended consequences of marketing. Thank the Lord, that marketing cannot rob His Word of power!

So, while the market has been saturated with every kind of “Prayer of Jabez” trinket, bookmark, and t-shirt imaginable – it is still His Word and it is still a prayer that can teach us so much about our identity in Christ.

1. Oh, that You would bless me indeed

The first thing that stands out to me in this verse, when looking at the Hebrew, is that the phrase “You would bless me” and “indeed” are both the Hebrew word “barak”.

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about Hebrew, but it makes me wonder if this is like the Greek form of “truly, truly”, which is a grammar rule that takes the word “truly” to the 2nd power.

It makes me wonder if Jabez was praying, “Oh, that you would bless, bless” or “that you would bless me to the 2nd power”.

And while I don’t know if this is, in fact, the case, I do know that this is how God wants His people to live!

I know this, because His Word says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

This is how God wants us to live: daily being transformed from glory to glory. This is normal Christian living, even despite our trials and tribulations.

What isn’t normal Christian living is going from a little glory to defeat, and then to a little glory back to defeat.

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”

Do you notice in this verse that the word “blessed” is past tense?

He has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing. This is God’s desire for us. It is His will that we live blessed lives each and every day.

It doesn’t mean that we won’t have hard times, but it does mean that hard times do not have to threaten us with defeat, because God’s promise is that He will turn all things for good.

2. Enlarge my territory [border]

For years, I have looked at this part of Jabez’s prayer as “Lord, enlarge my sphere of influence”. In fact, that has been exactly what I’ve prayed for years, as I have daily prayed this prayer.

But it goes so much further and deeper than that.

As I began to think about this verse more deeply, I began to ask myself, “Have I limited myself in any way?”

Maybe I’ve allowed my chronic illness to define me.

Perhaps, I’ve let a negative situation or circumstance in my past to hold me back.

Or, maybe I’ve let fear and anxiety keep me from going out and boldly doing what God has called me to do.

Worse yet, maybe I’ve allowed offense or unforgiveness to fence me in and keep me from walking in the fullness of God’s blessing in my life.

Whatever it is, “God, enlarge my territory!”

However, we will not see this part of the prayer answered if we are not willing to do what is necessary on our part. God is willing. Are we?

Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone, look fear in the face, refuse to be defined by our past or let negative circumstances to label us?

Are we wiling to fully forgive?

3. That Your hand be with me

Listen, my dear sister, you can’t do this alone.

There is no possible way that we can live the blessed life, walk in total freedom and our true identity without the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us.

If we could, we already would.

But we can’t. Without the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we are powerless to live the blessed life.

We must remind ourselves each and every day “Holy Spirit, empower me. Holy Spirit, work in and through me. I surrender myself to Your hand because without You I am nothing.”

4. Keep me from evil

This reminds me so much of the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.”

We know that God doesn’t lead us into temptation.

But, while He may provide a way of escape, we have to be willing to take it. We must be willing to walk away from temptation.

God has already provided the protection from evil through His Word – His Law and commands – paired with many precious promises in His Words that promise us blessing and life if we choose to obey them.

This doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen.

We live in a fallen world. But His promise is that these bad things will not overcome us, they will not defeat us; we will overcome and walk in victory, if we choose to walk the path that is the way of escape when temptation comes our way.

5. That I may not cause pain

This is really the hook of this prayer.

If you look at verse 9 it says, “…and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.”

The name Jabez means “sorrow, grief”.

In the very first moments of his life he was causing pain, and pain is what defined him from his first day on earth – because his name literally meant pain.

And now, he’s praying, “God, help me to no longer be defined by pain. Help me to find a new identity!”

Has pain defined you? Is your past defining you? Is your disappointment defining you right now? Maybe you have trouble forgiving someone who deeply hurt you, and that hurt has become your identity.

God wants to give you a new identity.

Pain, sorrow, and grief do not have to be your identity any longer. You can begin walking in a new identity today – an identity of blessing and victory!

This is what God wants for you.

All you have to do is reach out and receive that new gift of His identity that He gives to each son and daughter of God.

“Oh, that You would bless me with blessings that are more than abundant….with every spiritual blessing, enlarge my territory and remove all hindrances and boundaries I’ve put around my life out of fear, anger, hurt, unforgiveness, and past circumstances, that Your hand would be with me because I know I need the power of the Holy Spirit enabling me to do something that is not within my human power to do, and that You would keep me from evil by helping me to embrace Your grace to walk the way of escape from temptation, that I may not cause pain – that I would not live in my old identity, but in a new identity that in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross!”

The prayer of Jabez is more than just a trite verse found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 that we flippantly recite like “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

It is a powerful prayer that dives far beyond the surface to the very depths of our identity — deep in our soul, in the hidden places that no one sees and begins to unravel decades of tightly woven hurts, devastation, pain, fear, unforgiveness that have kept us locked up tight and unable to live and walk the blessed life God has destined for us.

I pray, my dear sister, that today this verse will begin to set you free to walk the overcoming life of victory God wants for you – that with Paul, you can say I am “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

A Little More About Good Morning Girls and My Groups

Good Morning Girls is an online Bible study for women. Began by Courtney Joseph in her church, she took the Bible study to the Internet in 2009 and invited ladies all over America to join her in keeping each other accountable to their daily time with the Lord.

Little did she know that this Bible study would extend beyond the borders of America to literally every region of the world!!

In 2014 I joined Courtney, together with my dear friends Misty, Mandy and Bridget, in helping to lead Good Morning Girls. It has been an amazing journey as we’ve watched Good Morning Girls not only grow beyond what we could have dreamed or imagine, but we’ve had the amazing honor to see women’s lives changed by daily digging into God’s Word!

Good Morning Girls is a simple study – we simply read the Bible.

We believe that there is power in the Word of God and the Word of God alone can defeat the enemy. So we read one chapter a day 5 days a week. And we will continue this method until we’ve read through the entire Bible!!

All the materials are free and are available at Women Living Well!

In the summer of 2012 I opened the very first Good Morning Girls group in Croatia.

12 women, all members of my church.

I had no idea where it would lead. But by the following summer it exploded to cover the countries of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.

You can read the story here

How to join us

If you’d like more information about Good Morning Girls Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, you can find our blog here, follow us on Facebook. Learn about our leaders and join one of their groups here.

In 2017, my dear friend Mary and I opened up our first International study group in English. You can find us at:

Good Morning Girls in the Word on Facebook
GMG in the Word on Whatsapp
Good Morning Girls in the Word on Telegram
Or join the email group at [email protected]

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