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What did Jabez mean by asking the Lord to enlarge his coast, and how can we apply this today?


The prayer of Jabez is found in a historical note within a genealogy:

“And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:9–10.

Little is known of Jabez, other than he was a descendant of Judah, he was an honorable man, and his mother named him “Jabez” (meaning “sorrowful” or “sorrow-maker”) because his had been a painful birth. In his prayer, Jabez cries out to God for protection and blessing. Using a play on words, Jabez, the “man of sorrow,” asks God to keep him from that sorrow that his name both recalled and foreboded.

The prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10 contains an urgent request for four things: 1) God’s blessing. Jabez acknowledges that the God of Israel is the source of all blessing, and he asks God for His grace. This request was based, at least in part, on God’s promise of blessing to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 22:17).

2) An expansion of territory. Jabez prays for victory and prosperity in all his endeavors and that his life would be marked by increase.

3) The presence of God’s hand. This was Jabez’s way of asking for the guidance of God and His strength to be evident in his daily existence.

4) Protection from harm. Jesus taught His disciples to pray in this way: “Father in heaven . . . deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9, 13). Jabez looks to God in confidence as his defender.

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