More names…and more names…and more names. That’s not to say that there aren’t some interesting editorial comments scattered throughout (like the comment in chapter 5, verse 18 and following that talk about the military might of Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh).
I would like to take this opportunity, however, to talk about something that has always bothered me a bit. Admittedly, it could be that this bothers me because I’m not much of one to follow the crowd. I don’t wear Nike sneakers just because they are “the thing” to wear. I don’t care that pink is the new black or that American Eagle is the latest trending brand (I’m probably wrong even saying that). I just don’t care about stuff like that. So when fads spring up in Christian culture, my reaction is much the same as to fads in secular culture…I wait to see just how long they will last.
Such a fad grew out of the readings from today. 1 Chronicles chapter 4 verses 9 and 10, otherwise known as “the prayer of Jabez”. A number of years ago these two particular verses made a couple of guys quite a bit of money. I say that a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is some cynicism mixed in as well. There were books, Bible studies, devotionals, and any number of merchandise items for sale that touted the virtues of the prayer that God honoured to increase Jabez’s territory and keep him from pain.
There are lots of things I could say about this, and not many of them would be very kind and some would be ill-informed, so I will keep most of them to myself. Needless to say I did not jump onto this particular band-wagon and I did not encourage Christians that I knew to buy into it either. Why not? First, is smacked a bit of prosperity gospel. Say this, do this, act this way and you can manipulate God into giving you what you desire. Second, it completely seemed to ignore the fact that this is not an isolated incident. All through scripture God honours the prayers of the faithful. Nothing too shocking there. In fact, James encourages us by saying that the prayers of the righteous are powerful; and since we’re made righteous through faith in the act of Jesus on the cross, it means that we all have power through prayer.
It was not anything special about Jabez’s prayer that made God stand up and pay attention. Jabez prayed in faith and God responded. I would encourage you to be aware of the truth in that for all Christians. If there is a fad that we need to take fire in the current Evangelical church, it is a resurgence of faith filled people who can and do act out in the power of God made available to us through the Holy Spirit in prayer. As we’ve been reading about the things the men and women of faith did because of their faith in God, I’ve been reminded that Jesus said “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12).
If there is a statement in scripture that deserves a fad, it’s that one!
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 73, 77-78