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  • Elpidio Pezzella

The Prayer of Jabez

"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!” So God granted him what he requested."

(1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV)

The genealogical list of the tribe of Judah reported in Chronicles is suddenly broken by a detail on the life of one of the descendants. Jabez is the one whose Scripture gives us a prayer that finds divine favor. The story of this man is part of a general story, just as the life of each of us is part of the story of God. The origins of Jabez evoke pain and suffering, because these are contained in the meaning of his name. "Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain” (v. 9). We do not know the reason for this greater honor reserved for him, even if it could be the epilogue of his story, which began in a difficult way: perhaps a difficult birth or something that caused suffering to the mother who chose a name for her unborn child. forever. There is no history that God cannot change. Jacob was also the "suppliant, usurper", but he became "Israel". The load that was on Jabez's shoulders will not crush him forever. Growing up, and growing up, before taking any action or undertaking any rehabilitation process, he "invoked the God of Israel".


Twenty years ago his words made the fortune of an American writer. At the base of this prayer I notice a conscious decision. I am sure that God's answer will never be an applause to perfect words, but only the answer to a contrite and sincere heart. There are no "formulas" to be fulfilled. Even the perfect prayer, if recited with the lips, will not reap any results. I hope that when we pray, we give word to the most intimate and sincere feelings, without hiding our suffering. Jabez's invocation is articulated on four points. First of all, this suffering man asked: "Bless me". The same request that Jacob made to the angel of the Eternal on the night he became Israel. Asking to be blessed is nothing more than placing our life in his hands. And then: "Expand my borders". I believe that there is quite another materiality contained in these words by the agitated people of prosperity. Remembering the pain that was upon Jabets' life from birth, he wants others to be able to look beyond him, that the walls erected around him be torn down and his life brought into God's broader and glorious perspective. he blesses (he takes care of me), he will broaden my horizons, he will lengthen my sight, and if necessary he will lead me out of my tent as he did with Abraham.


That might be enough, but Jabez is pushing the boundaries of him, so he asks "Your hand would be with me". This is the prayer of those who recognize that alone he cannot go very far, that alone he cannot do much. That hand on him is the constant guide, it is the permanent presence of the One who has decided to change our history. Under that hand we want to humiliate ourselves. Finally, “Keep me from evil”. A hand on him will not be enough, a keen sight will not be enough, knowing oneself in God's blessing will not be enough to avoid falling or failure. Jesus will also teach to make this request in the well-known prayer of the "Our Father". Jabez understands that putting your foot off the path of justice will mean returning to suffering and pain. And also for this reason, "God granted him what he requested". What a wonderful ending. Jesus himself assured us that God answers those who turn to him and seek him. May Jabez be our inspirer, because there is no pain or suffering that cannot be changed.



Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 39

September 20, Ecclesiastes 4-6; 2 Corinthians 12

September 21, Ecclesiastes 7-9; 2 Corinthians 13

September 22, Ecclesiastes 10-12; Galatians 1

September 23, Songs of S. 1-3; Galatians 2

September 24, Songs of S . 4-5; Galatians 3

September 25, Songs of S . 6-8; Galatians 4

September 26, Isaiah 1-2; Galatians 5

Photo by Half Orc, www.freeimages.com

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