“Praying” with Fire!
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked. 1 Chronicles 4:10
Twenty-two years ago, my pastor gave me a book that changed my life. No, it wasn’t a Bible; I had one of those. It was a tiny little book with an intriguing title: The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. It introduced me to this obscure man found in an obscure book in the Old Testament who dared to pray an audacious prayer.
I read the book several times and began praying the prayer every day at the end of my morning coffee with Jesus. I wasn’t praying for fame or fortune, as this is no prosperity gospel. Instead, I prayed it metaphorically, asking the Lord to expand the self-inflicted boundaries that kept me comfortably safe from putting myself out there for my Lord. I knew God’s hand needed to guide and protect me from evil and from causing or experiencing pain when this expansion, whatever it would be, occurred. I had a feeling that praying this prayer was like playing with fire, but I quickly found myself “praying with fire!”
On 2001.03.26, at about 5:30 am, “42” answered my audacious prayer and began enlarging my borders. I discerned my call that morning, and one year later, I left my career, sold everything we couldn’t fit in a rental truck (including the big house with an in-ground pool at the end of the cul-de-sac), and we (“J,” Chewie, Baby, and me) moved to Iowa for seminary.
The Lord wasn’t done and continued to enlarge my territory, from Dubuque, IA to Farmington, IL to West Newton, PA to Sparta, NJ! Yes, This HitchHiker has seen some difficulties and pain on the journey, but I still carry the Prayer of Jabez in my “toolbox” of prayer. I am still praying with fire!
Occasionally, I use a modified version of the Prayer of Jabez as a blessing to the congregation at the end of Sunday worship. And he continues to fan the fire!
Today, I bless you with it:
Oh, that the LORD would continue to bless you. May he open up your borders for his purpose. May you feel his hands upon you, guiding and embracing you. May you be protected from evil and free from experiencing or causing pain.
I bless you in the name of the Triune God of Grace; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!