La Oracion de Jabes Para Mujeres / The Prayer of Jabez for Women
By Darlene Wilkinson Editorial Unilit
Copyright © 2003 Darlene Wilkinson
All right reserved.
Made for More
Every summer I look forward to attending our town's annual Fourth of July parade. This year the weather is perfect-sunny and warm with a light breeze. Hundreds of people line the streets, which are abuzz with anticipation. I maneuver myself for a better position in the crowd as our local high school band rounds the corner. The sound of trumpets reaches my ears. Finally, horses, clowns, and floats come into view.
That's when I notice her-a little girl with curly blond hair just a few feet to my right. She is standing on her tiptoes, stretching her small frame as high as she can to see over the heads of the children in front of her. Moments later, an extra-wide man moves in front of the girl, and she's left looking at the back of his belt. As I watch, she begins to jump up and down, desperately trying to catch a better view. Finally, unable to handle her frustration any longer, she cries out, "I can't see, Daddy! I want to see more."
A tall, nice-looking man who has been standing a short distance away comes over, reaches down, and tenderly lifts her up into his arms. She smiles with delight. Finally she's able to fully enjoy the parade.
That's the picture that comes to mind when I think about what happens when Godknows I am "stretching for a better view" of my life. It's as if He picks me up in His loving arms and shows me something I couldn't see from my current or limited perspective.
The powerful little prayer I'm about to share with you is also about seeing things from a new vantage point. I believe that God brought you to this book because He wants to show you something surprising and amazing about His intentions for you. He has a special plan to abundantly bless you and then bless others through you-and He doesn't want you to miss out on a minute of it!
A Change of Heart
The first time I heard about the prayer of Jabez, I didn't really give it much thought. At the time I was busy working on my Ph.T. degree (putting hubby through school). After seminary, Bruce took a teaching position, and I became a stay-at-home mom with our first two children, David and Jennifer. I loved my role as wife and mother and was enjoying my dream come true.
But then it happened. The endless list of things to do to raise a family, run a household, and be the wife of a traveling husband convinced me of the truth of the statement "A woman's work is never done." Don't misunderstand, some days I felt like the richest woman in the world. But other days left me thinking something I never thought I would think: I was made for more than this.
Meanwhile, Bruce would come home from teaching school or giving Walk Thru the Bible seminars and tell me about all the exciting things God was doing in his life. I, on the other hand, could give an account of how many Cheerios I had picked up off the floor, how many loads of clothes I had folded, and how many books I had reread to the children. It wasn't hard to decide who had the more significant life-or so I thought.
Until then I had considered the prayer of Jabez something that might as well be labeled "For Men Only." After all, Jabez himself was a man, and in addition to my husband, most of the people I knew who prayed the prayer were men.
Now I began to wonder, Is it possible? Could the prayer of a herdsman who lived thousands of years ago bring blessing and abundance to a woman's life today? If so, what might that look like?
Spurred on by the exciting stories I heard from Bruce and others who prayed this prayer, I began to use the words of Jabez to express the deepest longings of my own heart. I pleaded with God for a better and bigger view of my life, one that would reveal what He had in mind for me.
Ever so gently, God began to challenge some of my earlier conclusions. Could it be that my world wasn't as limited as I sometimes deemed it? Was I missing important opportunities right in front of me to see God at work? Might it even be true that I was born for more and God was now inviting me to experience something grand and significant that I had overlooked?
Each time I prayed the prayer of Jabez, I had more understanding about what I was really asking God to do. Soon I began seeing His character, my own life, and the circumstances around me in a new light. God's blessings began to flow into my life and, even better, to flow in obvious ways from me into the lives of others! I wanted to keep praying the prayer because God kept answering it.
Why Jabez for Women?
As you may already be aware, God is using the prayer of Jabez to change millions of lives. Men, women, and teens have responded to the message and embarked on the Jabez journey. So why write a Jabez book especially for women?
At first I wasn't sure there was a need. After all, the message of Jabez is already aimed at both men and women. But as women all over the world began to write letters to Bruce in response to Jabez, I noticed that they raised questions and talked about issues that were important and wholly unique to women. I observed that God is equally excited to answer this prayer for both men and women but that we experience those answers in very different ways.
This only makes sense. As women, we do face different challenges than men. We experience different kinds of temptations, and we look for different kinds of help and provision from God's hand. Many of us are caretakers and spend a great deal of time nurturing our families and friends. As a result, we approach ministry and relationships differently than men.
For these reasons and more, there's much to be gained by looking at what happens when we pray the prayer of Jabez as women.
I don't promise that you'll find every answer for every woman in this book, but I will try to help you understand what it means to live out Jabez's life as a woman. By the time you're done reading, I trust you'll agree with me that Jabez's ancient, simple prayer is surprisingly suited to the modern-day woman who longs for God's powerful touch on her life.
The Bible's Hidden Hero
If this is the first time you've been introduced to the prayer of Jabez, you may be saying to yourself, I've heard of Moses, David, and John the Baptist, but who in the world is Jabez?
Remember when you first decided to read 1 Chronicles? Chapter 1 begins with a genealogy dating back to Adam that lasts nine chapters. You may have enjoyed exercising your phonics skills on the more than five hundred names like Shephatish or Aholibamah. But my guess is that by the second chapter of names that were difficult to pronounce, you were skimming through the verses, trying to find where the story begins. Oops, that may be how you missed Jabez, who doesn't appear until chapter 4.
Hidden in the midst of Israel's family tree is the story of a man who'd been standing on his tiptoes, trying to see over the obstacles in front of him. Two short verses give us a brief look at this man and how he prayed:
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!" So God granted him what he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10, NKJV)
Did you notice that Jabez is not heralded in the Scriptures for his incredible talents or gifts? Nothing is mentioned about how he contributed or what he accomplished. God points out that he was "more honorable." That should encourage us, because honor and integrity are qualities that any of us can strive to achieve. When we do, God is much more inclined to hear and answer our prayers just as He did for Jabez.
By now you also may be wondering: Did God grant Jabez's requests only because he was honorable? Or was there something special about what he prayed?
That's a good question. Since God considered Jabez "honorable" and then chose to include his prayer in the Bible, we can be sure that He considered it a noteworthy example for us to follow. But that's not the only reason Jabez's prayer is effective. As you're about to discover, though Jabez lived and prayed a thousand years before the time of Jesus, his prayer is a wonderful example of how Jesus taught us to pray.
Let's take a look at the four key parts to Jabez's prayer:
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. (1 Chronicles 4:10, NKJV)
Maybe at first glance these appear to be four very simple, even unremarkable, requests. But let me assure you that hidden beneath each line is a biblical and life-changing principle of prayer.
The prayer of Jabez is not a magic formula, nor should it be the only prayer you pray. Yet as we look more closely at each of Jabez's requests, you'll discover why God loves to answer such a prayer. And you'll understand why praying it can release the miraculous in your life.
When God Leans Down
Did I just say "miraculous"?
Yes, I did! Wouldn't it be great to go from a life in which the mundane-appointments, chores, carpools-seems to rule to a life in which you see miracles taking place on a regular basis? Wouldn't you love to see things happening in your life that you knew were possible only because God leaned down and said "yes" to something you prayed for?
My friend Peggy says she'd all but given up on the idea of miracles taking place in her life. Then she began praying the prayer of Jabez-and God began answering in amazing ways. One of the most exciting involved a restored relationship. "I had given up hope years ago that my estranged sister, Jessie, would ever darken the door of my home again," she explains. "But I'd been praying the prayer of Jabez for only a few days when I received a tearful phone call from Jessie! She asked my forgiveness for past wrongs and told me she wanted to be sisters again." She adds, "If you knew our family's history, you'd understand what a huge miracle this was!"
Maybe the idea of these kinds of miracles sounds a little intimidating to you. Or perhaps it's the idea of asking for "more" in your life that sounds overwhelming.
That's what Dianne thought when she first read The Prayer of Jabez. Busy with a husband, twin toddler sons, and a part-time job as a nurse, she wondered, Why would I want more when my life already feels like it's bursting at the seams? Do you have any idea how much activity two two-year-olds can generate on any given day?
But because the prayer was short, and because she truly longed for a sense of significance in her life, Dianne began to pray the prayer. Over the next few weeks, God blessed her in many ways, including a promotion at work that would give her more time off and an invitation to teach a ladies Sunday school class at her church-something she'd wanted to do for a long time.
"Now I realize that God truly does want me to ask in faith for His generous blessings," says Dianne. "And when He sends me new opportunities, because His hand is on me, they don't make my life harder but more meaningful!"
About a year ago, I experienced the kind of meaningful answer to prayer that Dianne describes. During a family vacation, I asked each family member to pray that the Lord would enable me to encourage more women. I thoroughly enjoyed my current opportunities for ministry, which included leading our ministry prayer team and mentoring several young women on a regular basis. But lately I'd been feeling an increased urgency when I prayed, Expand my territory, Lord!
At the time, I imagined that God might increase the number of ladies attending our monthly prayer meeting, or maybe I'd be invited to speak at a women's church retreat.
Instead, less than two months later I was invited to teach an all-day conference to women in South Africa!
I had never taught an all-day conference. I had never even written a workbook for my talks, and I certainly had never been to Africa. Were my borders being stretched? Yes. Was I out of my comfort zone and did I need the hand of the Lord on me? Definitely!
And guess what God did? He answered every prayer beyond what I could have imagined. As I stood in that South African church before a thousand beautiful women, I was in such awe of the God who responded to my Jabez prayer.
God's plan for you may not include a trip overseas, but what you can know with certainty is that He will give you everything you need to do anything He asks. And He will help you spread wide the apron of your life to take in and hold all the blessings He wants to pour out on you.
Maybe like Dianne you've already read The Prayer of Jabez and experienced some amazing miracles of your own, but now you have questions about how to maintain such an exciting life. Perhaps you've seen God at work in powerful ways, but you still long for a deeper understanding of what it means to experience God's hand upon you.
Or maybe this is your first encounter with the prayer of Jabez. Either way, you've come to the right place. Whether you are a businesswoman, a stay-at-home mom, a retiree, or a college student, God is waiting for you to call out to Him like Jabez did. Are you ready to say to God, "I want to see more!"?
God can't wait to lift you into His arms and show you the more that you were made for.
Excerpted from La Oracion de Jabes Para Mujeres / The Prayer of Jabez for Women by Darlene Wilkinson Copyright © 2003 by Darlene Wilkinson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.