JESUS UNLOCKS THE SECRETS TO PRAYER – ASK

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The prayer of Jabez sticks out primarily because it is a prayer found in the book of Chronicles, one of two books which largely list the lineage and genealogy of the tribes of Israel. There are only lists in these books, very little else. So to have mentioned a man whom God considers to be more honorable than his brothers, and whose prayer God granted in books of lists, is unexpected. But from it, Jesus wants to unveil to us His heart and the heart of our Father in the area of prayer.

Prayer indeed is important, for it is written,

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” James 5:13

“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” James 5:15

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

Prayer lifts the heavy-hearted, prayer heals the sick, prayer opens the way to forgiveness of sins, prayer opens doors to God’s heart and therefore God’s abounding treasure. For Jesus Himself promises us,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11

Indeed, it is told to us that Elijah was powerful because he used prayer.

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:17

So, if we would also like to share in this power, it behooves us to pray. And Jesus wants to reveal to us what our Father loves to hear most in prayer.

“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

Jabez’s name loosely translates as pain. So from this we can see that the first thing Jesus wants us to know is that when we are in pain, even if we feel we are a pain, our Father wants us to pray. As James already said, if anyone is suffering, let him pray. So beloved child of God, if there is some pain in your life, be it physical pain, emotional pain or even the pain of lack or unfulfillment in your life, pray. Your heavenly Father wants to hear you.

Next, Jabez asked for 2 things; provision and protection.

“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!” 1 Chronicles 4:10

Yes, that is what Jesus wants you to ask from Him! Ask simply for provision and protection. Jesus is not interested in long verbose prayers. For He Himself tells us,

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:5-8

So Jesus tells us that we are to pray in private, and we are to pray sincerely, from the heart, not use vain repetitions. The translation given by The Message says it so aptly.

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.” Matthew 6:5-9 [MSG]

Yes, our Father is neither interested nor impressed by theatrics. What He wants is an intimate relationship with you; private, away from the lights and glare. Truly, with a God like this loving us, we can pray simply.

And if we are honest with ourselves, if we are to pray in public, not many of us will ask for provision and protection. Because asking for provision and protection exposes our frailties. We don’t like that. Instead, if we do pray in public, we often tend to up-sell our works. God doesn’t like that.

We must remember that we were bought with a price. We; who changed our contract with God from one where He was the one providing and we the ones receiving, to one where He only provided when we earned it; wrote checks our flesh can’t cash. And in the end, we needed Jesus to come and bear the penalty of our disobedience to our own contractual wishes. We have done nothing deserving of our Father’s grace and mercy so how can we presume to put before God what we have done as basis to demand His blessing? No. As the apostle Peter said, we must be humble.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humility in our world means acknowledging that someone else is better than us, greater than us, more capable than us. So in the same, humility to God means acknowledging our frailties and insufficiencies and asking our Father to provide and protect, just like Jabez did. And notice how we are to cast our cares upon Him? Because He cares for us.

In essence, we are called to be like little children.

“But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:6-7

Yes beloved child of God, just as children neither toil nor worry, but only ask from their parents, our Father only ever wants us to ask from Him. In the same way that we as parents want our children to ask from us because we want to give them, our heavenly Father wants to give us as well. Perhaps, in the same way that we do, sometimes our heavenly Father wonders why we make life so difficult for ourselves. When all we really need to do is ask.

So beloved child of God, do as the apostle Paul instructs.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Let us pray prayers of protection and provision today let us say and ask of our Father,

“Father, thank You for watching over us and providing for us all things. Thank You for loving us so much that You would ask nothing of us but instead want to freely give to us. So Father we ask of You to provide for our every need. Provide healing for the condition that we are having in our bodies. Provide healing for the pain that we are feeling. Provide provision for our financial situation. Provide favor at our work place. And protect us from all evil for You have said that nothing formed against us shall stand. In Jesus' name, Amen.”

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