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And now, here's James. Very little about, really, became the subject of a very popular book a few years back. So popular, in fact, that it was the fifth bestselling book in Christian history, apart from the Bible. So a lot of people loved that book, or at least the message it gave them.
But, Robbie, I believe there was a problem with it. And I want to speak gently here, because I know this may be a surprise to some, but the message the book laid out, I believe, was a misinterpretation that doesn't fit well with the larger message of the Bible. The message of God's Word. And if we find ourselves praying that way, we could also find ourselves facing some unexpected disappointment. Oh, you got me wondering now. Okay, what do you mean?
Let's go to the text itself and what it actually says. Here it is in 1 Chronicles 4, 9, and 10. Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, I gave birth to him in pain. 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.
That's it. Two verses. And that's all we have about Jabez in the Bible. So we don't know too much about him. And it's a bit of a tall order to say that the way he prayed can be transformational for Christians who have the prayers of Jesus, most of all.
But what we do know is he was more honorable than his brothers. And I believe that the reason for that may be because he prayed. So it's been a while since I've read the book, but as I understand it, the author basically said that if we ask God to bless us the way Jabez did, or Jamez, that we would be blessed. And he recommends praying that prayer, right, regularly. Yeah, that's right.
That's right. But that also raises a question we need to ask. Haven't we already been blessed because of Jesus more than anything else? Don't we already have everything that we need in him?
Honestly, it's a short book. And the truth is, it doesn't mention Jesus until about page 47, close to the halfway point. But our focus for life is to be on him. He is our source of life and salvation. And what the book basically says is that we can have all these other blessings, all this stuff, enlarge our territory if we ask. But the problem I have is that Jesus isn't the starting point, and he needs to be. We shouldn't pull verses out of scripture and then make them some kind of formula for living the life God wants us to live. Scripture isn't formulaic.
It's living and active. Yeah, that's so true. Well, let's look at that prayer of Jabez, you know, let's talk about that.
Well, yes, that's important because there are a lot of good things in this prayer that we really can learn and make our own. And the first is, let's look at Jabez, not James. Let's look at Jabez's name. It's derived from the word pain in Hebrew because his mother had a painful delivery. Wow. So his mother named him pain. Gee, thanks a lot, Mom. I know, I know.
Can you imagine being stuck with a name like that for the rest of your life? And that's the beautiful thing about this prayer. Basically, he's saying, no matter what others have said about me, even my own mother, Lord, I want you to define my life.
I want to be what you say I am. And that's a really good thing. Oh, yeah. So you're saying this prayer isn't about being blessed with stuff as much as it's about our identity with God.
That's exactly it. And not just that, it's about a relationship with God overall. He prays, let your hand be with me. In other words, I want to be close to you, God, and I want you to be with me. And he wants God to protect him and not only keep him from pain, but I believe keep him from causing pain to others as well.
He's basically saying, I don't want to be in pain and I don't want to be a pain, God. So once again, really, we come back to the place of relationship, right, and prayer. And that's where real prayer is all about. So I can see what you mean when you say it's not about the stuff. Really, there's so much more than that. And the relationship with Jesus is the critical part of any prayer, right?
It really is. And if we boil this prayer down to bless me, bless me, and make it all about that, we're missing the point. And to be fair, the author tries to bring the gospel in a little later, expanding our territory for God, you know. But that's eisegesis, really reading meaning into the text that isn't there. And we have to be careful to think about the context of God's word if we're going to understand it and pray it correctly. And that's why you wanted to talk about this today, because you feel this prayer really has been misinterpreted and misapplied, and you don't want others' faith, really, to be harmed because of it. That's right, Robbie.
I haven't named the author even just because I don't want to be overly critical. I'm sure he means well. But think about it. If someone believes, if I just pray this prayer, I'll be blessed, you know, again, like a formula. If they pray it and they aren't blessed with all this material stuff or an expansion of their ministry and the way they imagine, they can wonder, where is God in all of this?
And they can start to doubt or question their faith. Now, God is good and will lead them through that, but the prayer was never meant to be prayed that way as some kind of a life-altering principle for believers in Jesus today. Still, it's a great prayer if we look at it from the standpoint of a new identity with God and a relationship with him.
But that's just the thing. It should be about him and about him defining our lives, not all about us. Wow, thanks, James. You know, I'm glad we really had a chance to talk through this prayer. You know, I know many like me have always, you know, looked at this and thought about it. But, you know, why don't we wrap up this session with that relationship, with that prayer? Let's do it, Lord. We do thank you, praise you for your word and how it teaches us to pray. And we ask that you will help us to rightly understand it. And Father, I just thank you that you long to bless us with your son most of all. So we do pray. Bless us, bless us, Lord, to know you, to love you, to make our lives all about our relationship with you. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website, jamesbanks.org, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 18:43:52 / 2023-02-26 18:47:23 / 4