It’s easy to complicate prayer and think it’s for super-religious. It’s possible to view prayer as something far out and unattainable. It can seem overly-spiritual and even intimidating. And yet prayer is so much more simpler, so much more practical, and so much more powerful than we could ever imagine.
There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez (which means Pain) because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.
1 Chronicles 4:9–10 NLT
Sometimes you can’t escape fate it seems. There’s pull to life that keeps you stuck where you are. You aren’t sure how to escape it, and you feel like if you tried you might get pulled back down. It’s easy to relate to how Jabez’ story begins.
But as you read Jabez’ story, you see hope. You see a rescue and a transformative, miraculous thing where God changes the story completely. Jabez’ story gives us a deeper understanding of God. That deeper understanding of God, is what can transform us and empower us to pray bigger.
Even when it seemed like Jabez was stuck with no way out, God took notice. Jabez was the most unlikely candidate for something amazing to happen. Jabez was just one of the brothers in this story, and yet somehow God noticed Jabez.
Jabez’ name was a constant reminder of the grief, distress, and pain; and yet God took notice. Your name is never deserved or earned, but you carry it with you. Jabez’ angst and frustration over his name only turned his heart closer to God. It caused him to pray a bigger prayer.
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Matthew 6:5–6 NLT
Don’t get caught up with what people think of your prayer, only ever care what God thinks of it. Prayer isn’t given confidence by the praise of man, nor is it snuffed out by the ridicule of man. Don’t get caught up with what people think of you when you pray. If you pray to get man’s attention, you’re putting your trust in man. If you pray to get God’s attention, you’re putting your trust in God.
When you know that God sees you and sees your situation, it empowers and emboldens your prayer. You begin to trust that God is watching and that whatever comes your way, God has got it under control.
Jabez was an embarrassment to his family, but that pain didn’t box him in. He lived his entire life with a sense of shame and ridicule. I’m sure dealt with depression, worry, and hurt in his life, but through it all God knew the cry of his heart.
The cry of Jabez’ heart birthed a God-dream within him. His insecurities and struggles formed the seedbed for powerful and transformative growth within him. Jabez illustrated a life that was so submitted to God even in the midst of ridicule and stress.
Jabez reveals to us his immense trust and reliance on God. Your faith is most often concealed in your successes, but is revealed through your struggles. Jabez’ had an intense faith in a God who answers prayer.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!
Matthew 6:7–8 NLT
God knows you and knows exactly what you need. Sometimes we get so wound up with wrong expectation, we think we know what we need, when really it’s only something we want. God knows us, from the very core of who we are.
God completely granted Jabez’ request. God completely and unequivocally answered his prayer. It wasn’t half or partial or maybe… it was a complete answer to his prayer.
I think many of us don’t step into the promise of God, because we’re often too afraid to ask Him to move us there. When you ask God for something, it puts the onus on Him to answer. Sometimes we’re too caught up in our negative situation to even consider the possibility that God might help us get out of it. We probably wouldn’t hear about Jabez’ story if he failed to ask God for great things.
It’s not that God isn’t listening, it’s probably more that we’ve stopped asking. It’s not our job to make sure God answers prayer, but it is our job to faithfully ask Him. Prayer doesn’t always change the situation we find ourselves in, but it most certainly changes us through the process. God promises good things to His children, and sometimes His timing doesn’t match our expectation, but that shouldn’t stop us from continuing to ask him to change our situation. Jabez did that and found that God answers prayer.
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
Matthew 6:9–13 NLT
Jesus helps us pray bigger prayers. He doesn’t leave us with our own assumptions or ideas of what prayer is. He specifically says… “Pray this way!” Jesus helps us get our eyes off ourselves and onto God, to think bigger, to live in a bigger way, to love and forgive bigger, to live lives that are so in tune with God and so fulfilling and amazing that you bring heaven to earth.
God always answers prayer. God doesn’t promise to always change our situation, but He always promises to change us in our situation. Prayer connects us to God, connects us to each other, and reminds us that our lives belong to God. We live for the glory of God. We stay faithful in prayer and submit to God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
We begin to pray bigger prayers when we recognize that God sees, God knows, and God answers. We can place our complete hope and utmost trust in a God like this. Prayer doesn’t need to be a struggle. It is simply us communicating with a Father in Heaven who loves us deeply.
As we allow Him to transform and shape our lives according to Jesus’ image, we will find that life is full of surprises, that it’s fulfilling, and that we actually enjoy the adventure Jesus has us on.
We simply need to pray with a BIGGER perspective!