The Chronicler suggests that the name “Jabez” is derived from a Hebrew word that means “to cause pain” (‘tsb in the hiphil stem) ayin, tsadde, bet, thus (“he brings pain.”)
The Chronicler seems to be saying that God responds to prayer and encourages us to avail ourselves of that opportunity as Jabez did (nothing wrong with that!). Recently, however, Bruce Wilkinson has, shall we say “cashed in” on this important biblical truth. The premise of his best-selling book The Prayer of Jabez, (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000) is that ordinary Christians can live extraordinary lives by seeking God’s blessing through Jabez’s four stage blueprint for blessing:
1. seeking God’s blessing
2. seeking greater personal territory
3. depending upon God’s power for significant ministry
4. avoiding temptation
Wilkinson assures us that God always answers this daring prayer.
Besides the problems raised by this text, above, several others arise:
It is difficult to ascertain what the Jabez Prayer means in its context of nine chapters of Chronistic genealogy beyond the positive notice that God answered his prayer, Jabez is otherwise unknown.
9Jabez was honoured more than his brothers; and his mother named him Jabez, saying, Because I bore him in pain. 10Jabez called on 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 hurt and harm! And God granted what he asked.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org