Through the Word in 2020 #64 – June 30 / Praying, like Jabez, but not praying his prayer

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Luke 3:1–22; Philippians 1:3–11; Psalm 106; 1 Chronicles 3:1–5:22 form our reading list today. Tucked away in the midst of these chapters in Chronicles with its long lists of people we do not and cannot know – about whom we know no more than their being listed there – is this simple reminder: When people call upon the Lord, He hears. And He answers. He is ever willing to meet us if we will but seek Him. That today on Through the Word in 2020 – I’m Reid Ferguson.
First, is 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 and the prayer of a man named Jabez.
A few years ago a book was written which laid great stress on praying what Jabez prayed. I think that is a mistake. I once heard someone ask Alistair Begg if he prayed the prayer of Jabez. He quipped: “No. I don’t pray the prayer of Jabez because Jesus didn’t pray the prayer of Jabez.”
What really makes this short account remarkable is that in this sea of unknown people – when people seek God and pray, He hears. No matter how obscure we may be. Our God hears us.
This is reiterated and expanded upon later – in Chapter 5. It bears the account of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and 1/2 the tribe of Manasseh as they were pursuing the conquest of the land God had promised them. What is in vs. 20 is both so simple and so profound. A powerful impetus to pray. Note these four things.
And when they prevailed over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him.
a. They were in battle. Christians face battles. Of all kinds. We ought not to be surprised at this. We have been given the task of challenging our indwelling sins – and they will not go quickly nor quietly. We have a real and angry enemy of our souls who will lie at all times, and ruthlessly seeks our utter destruction. And, then this world around us which seeks to soak into us and sink us. To draw us away by its enticements. To make us forgetful of God and His great mercy, grace and goodness. To make its fleeting riches of greater value than eternity.
b. It is in battle the men of Israel cried out – to God! Note that they did not just cry out. Many simply wail due to their distresses. Others have learned to cry out to God – to seek His help and favor. They have learned there is a God who loves them and cares for them and delights to be called upon in the day of trouble. As these did, so may we.
c. He granted their urgent plea. He does not turn a deaf ear to those about His business. He is never indifferent to our plight. And He takes note of the urgency of our needs. His timing is always perfect. He is never ever late. Though we often would prefer Him to be early. He answers only precisely, and when it is perfect in the eyes of His infinite wisdom and unfailing love.
d. Because they trusted in Him. Their cry was not out of mere desperation, but in the knowledge He could be trusted. Faith is central to seeing the hand of God move on our behalf. He rushes to the aid of those who trust Him. He delights to be trusted above all things – for it is the foundation of loving intimacy. Would you please God today? Trust Him. And watch Him answer.
This entrance to the Father in prayer is part of what Jesus purchased for us in His blood on the Cross.
Don’t neglect this great gift.
Consider that afresh today.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.

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