"The briefest of Bible biographies," as Mr. Wilkinson puts it, has impacted my life and ministry in an extraordinary way. Over 10 years ago, this little book captured my undivided attention. You may have read Bruce Wilkinson's little book. It's called The Prayer of Jabez.
I thought I would share with you what "asking for more territory" means, how God has answered this sincere, but powerful prayer for me, and encourage you to ask as well. The requirement is you have to want more, not for yourself, but for Him, be ready to say, "Yes", and obey.
When I was praying about leaving a Christian singing group I had been with for quite a while, I was introduced to Jabez. His mother named him Jabez because she bore him in pain. Because of his name, he knew he may bring pain somehow to others. His deep desire was to not cause pain.
Jabez longed to do more and be more for his God, the God of Israel. For that reason, I believe, the Bible gives us an in-depth look into his heart through his prayer. His heart is what set him apart from his brothers. (1 Chronicles 4:9).
March 27 is my adopted day. I'm always reminded and so grateful for how God picked me up and placed me in the arms of my mom and dad. So here's what I believe I have in common with Jabez. Not long after reading through this little book, I was led, at age 43, in a very unexpected way to find my birth mother. After hearing her story in her own words about the circumstances of which I was birthed, I discovered it was through much pain, not only physical, but through the pain of a broken heart. Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to this character tucked quietly inside of the genealogy of the family of Judah. Hmmm...
I Chronicles 4:10 (NKJV) is where we can almost hear the desperate cry pouring from Jabez's lips to be more for God's glory and to expand his territory so he wouldn't cause pain. Here is his prayer as he called on his God:
"Oh, that You would bless me, indeed, and enlarge my territory, and that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!"
What's written next, blows me away.
"So God granted him what he requested."
As I pondered this mini biographical sketch of an honorable man, and why God included his story in His story, I came to realize that it was another affirmation of how God wants to use ordinary people through their obedience to do extraordinary things for His glory.
People just like me and just like you!
I began to pray the exact words of Jabez. Simply, Scripture. Since I was praying truth, I knew God would hear, but I didn't know how He would answer.
I prayed for God to use me in ways He never had before. I begged for more territory so I could impact more people for His glory with the story He was writing with my life. As I prayed, I surrendered my future to Him without even asking to see the movie trailer of what was coming. All I knew was that I wanted Him to be glorified in whatever He asked me to do next.
Through much seeking and praying for what I needed to do, I believe God answered by giving me the task of publishing Living Real Magazine. How do I know it's Him and not me? That's easy! I never liked English! I never took writing seriously. But, this burning passion to write began to bubble inside of me. God had created me with this desire, but it stay suppressed until He knew I was ready to move forward with Him. In 2007, I was ready!
Living Real Magazine became a reality in 2009, and in March 2014, our 7th issue will hit the streets.
From praying what Jabez prayed, God has had me on adventure with twists, turns, and surprises like I never dreamed. He has expanded my territory with many opportunities and the blessing of an incredible readership. From the 5000 copies of each issue printed, to the expansion of being an e-zine (online magazine), to speaking engagements, and Living Real conferences.
And God continues to honor my request as I seek to walk daily in faith and obedience.
The expanded territory is not mine, it's His! God is doing it all. He's using this broken vessel - a willing, ordinary girl from SC to be more, and to reach more for Him than she ever imagined - all because she asked.
God desires to work through you too! You just have to be willing, and then ask Him. "You have not because you ask not." (James 4:2 NKJV). Asking for more is not asking for the things of this world to spend on our own pleasures, it's asking the One who wants to bless you with spiritual blessings that will bring honor and glory to Him alone. If you want to see the miraculous happen, ASK. He's waiting for your call.
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)