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The Prayer of Jabez for Writers
Do you remember reading about the prayer of Jabez? Have you considered how it might apply to writers?
When Bruce Wilkinson’s book, The Prayer of Jabez, was published 20 years ago, it jumped on to the bestseller lists, encouraging Christians to daily pray the prayer of an obscure man found in I Chronicles 4:9-10. In fact, that’s the only place in the Bible where this man—or his prayer—is mentioned:
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ 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” (ESV).
A modified version of this prayer has been incorporated into my quiet time for years. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking about the applications for writers. Let’s walk through the prayer together:
Heavenly Father, today I ask for . . .
Your blessing . . .
Christians often say things such as:
- The Bible says God wants us to prosper (3 John 1:2).
- God wants His children to have an abundant life (John 10:10). He doesn’t want His children to be poor.
- “Though He was rich He became poor so that we might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Of course, God is not against wealth. But these verses are not necessarily focused on material wealth as His priority for His children. If anything, material comforts often get in the way of His process to conform us to the image of Christ. God is more concerned with wealth that will last for eternity. Spiritual growth. The fruit of the Spirit. And of course, the most valuable provision He has already given us is the gift of salvation—a restored relationship with Him.
So how do you define blessing in your writing life? Is it your first book contract? Agent representation? Are you willing to leave the definition to Him?
Enlarge my border . . .
Jabez prayed for victory to expand his territory. What does that look like for our writing? Appearing on a bestseller list? Multiple book contracts? Being hailed as the next J.K. Rowling?
We have hopes and dreams regarding how God might use us in the future. But let’s not allow those desires to prevent us from recognizing how God wants to use us today. Are we willing to say, whatever He decides is fine by me?
Your hand might be with me . . .
Over the years, I’ve watched many Christian leaders shipwreck themselves on the rocks of their own grand plans for larger ministries and media empires. God’s plan for them might have been to toil in obscurity, but that wasn’t their plan for themselves.
We can strategize and we can plan. But without the Lord’s leading, our ideas may not be His plans for us. We need to trust Him to direct us onto a straight path (Proverbs 3:6). The Bible often speaks of our “walk” with God. Walking with someone requires that we move in the same direction and at the same pace. I don’t ever want to run ahead of God or lag behind Him in my life and in my writing!
Keep me from harm . . .
Jabez prayed for protection from harm and pain. Some scholars believe that verse can also be translated to mean that he was asking to be kept from giving pain to others.
I know, from experience, the pain caused by other people. Betrayal. Insensitivity. Negligence. Temptation. But I also know I’ve caused pain, too. How can I pray for protection from pain if I’m not willing to pray that God would keep me from causing it?
It takes courage to ask the Lord for increased sensitivity to how you and I might be causing pain for others as we interact with others in the writing community. Are we willing to give back to other writers as other writers have invested in us?
I hope you’ll join me in this modified prayer of Jabez:
Heavenly Father, I ask for today:
To recognize Your blessing as You define it,
To be content with Your use as You decide it,
To obey Your leading as You provide it,
And to be sensitive to how I might be giving pain, harm, and temptation to others even as I ask for God’s protection from those things for myself.
Then watch how God works in and through you and your writing!
What are your thoughts about the prayer of Jabez?