December 19, Pray Like Jabez, Part 5: Divine Protection

Pray Like Jabez  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Jabez’ Final Request

1 Chronicles 4:9–10 (NKJV)
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.
When it is all said and done, we cannot throw away our blessing, vision and empowerment with evil living. Jabez also prayed that God would keep him from evil. Jesus taught us to pray,
Matthew 6:13 (NKJV)
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

What Did Jabez Mean?

In this passage, the word evil is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 6:5 to describe the world before God unleashed the great Flood. Here, it is translated as wickedness: “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
The same Hebrew word can also, in some contexts, be translated as pain. That’s why some English translations read, “Keep me from pain.” Neither translation is incorrect, but the majority of usages in the Bible are translated as evil, not pain.
Although pain would be an interesting play on the name Jabez (which means “pain”), I believe that Jabez was primarily asking for protection from all types of evil. When Jabez prayed, “Keep me,” he was asking that God would act to protect.
Jabez even reveals his motive for not wanting evil in his life: “That I may not cause pain.” This can also be properly translated that it may not pain me or grieve me. The Hebrew grammar used here can be interpreted to mean causing pain to another or to oneself. When we participate in evil, we cause pain and grief both to ourselves and to others, including God.
So we hear Jabez asking God, Please protect me from doing evil, which would only cause heartbreak for You, for others, and for me.

What It Means to Pray For Protection

Let’s put Jabez’s prayer for protection into the broader context of the Bible, so we are able to understand it more clearly.

1. The prayer is for protection not only from suffering, but also from sin.

Is it wrong to ask God to minimize our suffering? Absolutely not. But while God cares about the pain we experience, He is even more concerned for the condition of our relationship with Him. He knows that sin causes far more harm than physical pain or hardship. We pray most effectively when we recognize this, too.

2. The prayer is for protection not only from sin, but also from Satan.

As we’ll discuss later, there are multiple sources of temptation. But one significant source is the real, living being named Satan and his hordes of fallen angels. If we pray about evil as though it were a completely impersonal influence, we are likely to let down our guard against the malevolent beings who seek our personal downfall.

3. The prayer is for protection not only for the future, but also for the present.

Praying about evil keeps you alert to the spiritual battle that rages around you and within you. One of Satan’s favorite tricks is to create a false sense of security so that we might drop our defenses.

4. Refraining from evil is accomplished not only by you, but by God’s intervention.

You are asking God to act on your behalf, not merely to send you His best wishes as you fight the battle. The Bible reveals two primary ways to deal with temptation: First, actively resist temptation yourself; second, regularly request that God protect you from it.

DANGERS WE ARE TO PRAY AGAINST

Who can number the many temptations you might face in your lifetime, against which you must ask God for protection?
I have selected for discussion here four types of temptation that may present a special danger to the man or woman who is advancing into a lifestyle of Jabez-type praying and living.

First, pray for protection from the temptation of pride.

James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
When God works through your life, it’s a team effort—God’s power working through your willing heart, your wisdom, and your effort. It’s appropriate for you to accept an expression of appreciation for your service, but never for God’s power. Sometimes, as God’s hand begins to perform greater and greater works through you, pride can lure you subtly into believing that you deserve the credit that belongs only to the Lord.
This happened to Moses, and it’s the reason he was prohibited from entering into the Promised Land. One day when the thirsty people could find no water, God instructed Moses to speak to a rock, promising him that it would produce water. Instead of speaking to the rock, however, Moses struck it with his staff, as he had been told to do on a previous occasion. The water gushed forth from the rock, and the people’s thirst was quenched (see Numbers 20:2–12).
But God told Moses that because of that one act, he would die in the desert. For what? For hitting a rock instead of speaking to it? Doesn’t seem quite fair—until you look closer at what actually happened.
Notice in verse 10 the words Moses spoke just before he struck the rock: “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” (emphasis added). Did you see the pronoun Moses used? We. Moses had crossed the line and taken for himself some of the glory that was God’s alone. He put himself in the spotlight that belonged only to God. Pride, not anger, was the sin for which Moses was disciplined. God’s judgment: “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Regularly ask God to guard your heart from pride.

Second, pray for protection from the temptation of power.

Power is not necessarily the same as authority, although it often accompanies a person’s position. You might derive power from reputation or fame, from connections, from money, or from skills and education. Or it may come with the powerful influence of God’s hand working in your life.
In any of your relationships—especially those in which you exercise influence on others—watch the way you treat people. Listen to your tone of voice. Pay attention to whether you become pushy and how well you listen to others’ opinions. Be careful how you use your authority. God gave it to you (see Romans 13:1) and He can take it right back. Pray that He would guard you from the subtle temptation of power.

Third, pray for protection from the temptation of possessions.

Money itself is not evil, as it is only a piece of paper or metal. But money is a tool that can be used either for good or for evil. The difference is in our attitude and actions. As you read the following passage, watch for the words that describe a dangerous attitude toward wealth:
1 Timothy 6:9–10 NKJV
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

And fourth, pray for protection from the temptation of sinful pleasure.

It’s important to understand that the experience of pleasure is a wonderful gift from God Himself “who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). When you think about it, most desires are normal, and God-given—which are good, in and of themselves—sabotaged as temptations by Satan when expressed in a manner that is inappropriate.

Conclusion

Start praying with the heart of Jabez. There’s nothing magic about his words, but there is something special about the honorable character they represent. Commit to praying fervently day after day until God shows up. And He will. Why? Because you’ll be praying His will. He wants to bless you. He wants to enlarge your borders. He wants to unleash His power on your behalf. He wants to keep you from evil. You don’t have to convince Him.
2024 is waiting for those willing to Pray Like Jabez!
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