What can we do to enjoy the favor of God today? Is there a secret, and if so, what is it? Fortunately, there are clear biblical directions to guide us. The first obvious instruction from the Lord is that we are to ask in prayer for an outpouring of his favor. Remember what made Jabez stand out in his generation: “Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me’” (1 Chronicles 4:10).
Jabez, it seems, could not accept the idea of living without the blessing of God. Please notice the emphatic words, “Jabez cried out.” His was no mere mental prayer, but the deep cry of a soul that could not live without an open heaven above him.
Jabez’s prayer reminds us of Jacob, one of the patriarchs of Israel, who also had a breakthrough time of prayer with God. One night Jacob wrestled with God-in-the-form-of-a-man and afterward uttered a sentence that has inspired many people throughout the centuries to fervently seek God for more. As the man sought to leave, Jacob responded, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).
This kind of passionate, desperate prayer is definitely out of vogue today. Maybe that’s the reason we experience so little divine blessing on both the church as a whole and her individual members. So often we seem content with the status quo rather than reaching out for more of God. Because of this, we seem to have little effect on the world around us.
I do not fully understand the mysteries of how a sovereign God answers the petitions of frail human beings, but it does seem clear that effective praying often involves more than just saying the right words. Seeking God with our whole heart is the kind of Bible praying that secures not just answers but the blessing of God that we all need. If Jesus himself prayed aloud with tears at times, then I can certainly feel free to pour out my own soul to God. And so can you.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.