This passage today contains a famous prayer.  It contains the prayer of Jabez. You might be familiar with a recent book by that name.  His name, “Jabez,” means born in pain. His mother named him that because of the difficult time she had in giving birth to him. Thus, he was marked for life as a cause of pain.

I would think of this as a psychological handicap. I’d expect that his birth created an emotional hang-up, stopping him from leading a full life as Ogilvie suggests. Notice what he asks God for: “If only You would bless me, extend my border, let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm, so that I will not cause any pain.” Essentially, he prayed that God would reverse his fortunes.

This is a bold prayer. He wanted blessing and growth, and he asked for it. He was tattooed as a “loser” with a name like Jabez, but looking to God in faith, he boldly prayed that God would reverse the curse and turn it into a blessing for him. I love the short phrase that ends verse 10; “And God granted his request.” This born loser was able to overcome every handicap and enjoy a position of respect and honor that he could never have attained without God.

Robert L. Stevenson said something to the effect that life does not consist of being dealt a good hand of cards, but of learning how to play the ones you’ve been dealt.  From Jabez, we learn instead, that when you’re dealt a difficult hand of cards, it’s really learning how to “pray” that will make all the difference.

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”  2 Timothy 1:9