Thursday, February 27, 2014

"The Prayer of Jabez": Part 3

We've made it through the first two parts of Jabez's prayer model based on Bruce Wilkinson's book, "The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life."  I've mentioned some of the controversy over this book, as some critics claim it to be too much of a "feel good" message.  Personally, I have found nuggets of truth in this book that have challenged me within my own personal prayer life.  I want to stress that  along with our petitions and supplications, a good balanced prayer life should include adoration to God, confessions and repentance of our own sin and shortcomings, and a hefty dose of thanksgiving laced within.

Part one of the Jabez prayer model, ("Oh, that You would bless me indeed!"), suggests that we are to boldly pray for God's blessings in our lives.  That this is a spiritual act in which we are "crying out for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only God has the power to know about or give to us." And when asking for His blessings, we are to trust in the fact that it is God who determines exactly what those blessings are, and where, when, and how we are to receive them.

Part two of this prayer, ("Oh, that You would enlarge my territory!"), encompasses the idea that we are to ask God to provide us with more opportunities to minister and influence others for the sake of His kingdom.  That we would have increased opportunity to make a mark for Him on this world.

Today, we will introduce part three of the Jabez prayer model:

"Oh, that Your hand would be with me!"

Wilkinson explains that "'the hand of the Lord' is a biblical term for God's power and presence in the lives of His people."  He calls God's hand on us "the touch of greatness."  And stresses that it's not us that become great, but rather it's He who becomes great through us.  The author mentions that, "asking for God's hand upon us is our strategic choice to sustain and continue the great things that God has begun in our lives."

He then cautions and urges us to pray for God's hand upon us, because many believers who have dared to ask for an enlarged ministry end up faltering once God has placed a blessed opportunity onto their laps.  How sometimes we plummet under the rush of wind once God has stretched the limits of our influence and opportunities.  Our dependence on God, and our need for His hand upon us, is highly stressed and should be sought after daily.

This portion of the prayer spoke volumes to me.  And although Wilkinson didn't touch upon some of the things I will further mention, I've personally found that I am lost and desperate without God's hand upon me.  Above the blessings and enlarged territory of ministry and influence, His hand upon me (His power and presence) is vital to breaking through to a blessed life.  Without it, I am ineffective and doomed.

For instance, we may ask God for opportunity and for His leading and guidance.  He may bless us and open doors and we may obediently walk through them.  But, too easily, we can veer off the path (or the assignment) He has for us and find ourselves no longer under His hand.  God may enlarge our territory and place an assignment before us in which He wishes to use us for His purposes.  And quickly we can turn God's purpose into our own agenda...trying to take on His role, as if He needs our help and assistance.  We can take it a step too far, and when we do, our own motives and plans can sweep in and override His initial calling for us.  One misstep in our own direction, apart from His hand and guidance, and we may find ourselves off the intended path He had us walking.  Even in instances in which we started out in complete obedience, we are not exempt from straying from His path and creating our own.  And seldom does it accomplish what we had first set off to do.  This is why it is so critical to continuously pray for His hand to be upon us.  Not only does it equip us with His power to accomplish that which is before us, but it also steers us from slipping off His path and tripping on our own plans and bruised egos.

Thankfully, God never expects perfection from us.  He gently nudges and patiently waits for us to turn back to Him with every step we take.   He whispers and He humbles.  And He is gracious with us in the process.  I've found that a spoonful of humility is often gulped down quick and sour.  The taste is bitter on our palate of pride and burns around our hardened edges.  But once properly digested, it ends up coating and covering those acidic holes in one's heart leaving in us a spirit that's a bit more soothed, pliable, and refined.  Dulling those sharp, jagged areas.  He uses these tripping moments to teach and grow us so that we may be more effective in future callings.

And as a result, we more fully understand our dependence on Him and our moment-by-moment need for His hand upon us.  Apart from it, we are nothing.  If ever there be a cry of our hearts, let it be for more of Him, more of His power, and more of His presence in our lives.

Oh, that Your hand would be with me!

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