Faithlife Sermons

Prayer of Jabez Dedication Service

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I want to welcome you again this morning.
First, to those joining us online, we are so thankful for our online technology that allows you to be a part of our church family today.
I also want to welcome those who may be joining us for the first time today. I hope your time with us today is encouraging and helpful, and I look forward to meeting you.
I would also say if you are new to our church today, it would be helpful for you to know that we practice a form of preaching called “Expository Preaching”.
What that means, is we believe the Bible is best taught by taking books of the Bible and then breaking them down from beginning to end, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Our goal, to better understand not only what God’s Word says, but what it means in our lives today.
Over the past three years we’ve been doing that through the NT book of Acts.
However, last week we finished out that study, and next week we will begin a new study as we dive into the book of Revelation with a series entitled “The Seven Letters”.
So, if you’ve ever wondered what the book of Revelation is all about and how it applies to our lives, I would encourage you to come back next week as we start this exciting series.
Today however we are going to set our typical approach aside as we focus in on an important practice at MCF. A practice that we refer to as “Infant/Child Dedication”.
And it’s a practice that we take very serious here at MCF. And we take it serious for two reasons:
First, it’s a NT Biblical practice.
And what I mean by that is that it’s a practice that we see carried out in the NT.
We see a great example of it in Matthew 19 as Jesus Himself performs this practice, which involved praying a blessing over a young child. Matthew records it like this:
Matthew 19:13–15 ESV
13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.
Matthew says parents were bringing their children to Jesus so he could pray over them and bless them.
So, as you can see, Jesus Himself gives great emphasis to this practice as he takes time out of his busy schedule to bless and pray for children. Which is why we are setting time aside as well to follow this Biblical practice of infant or child dedication.
Second, “Infant or Child” dedication gives parents and the church an opportunity to recognize the responsibility we have to raise our children to know the Lord.
A responsibility that starts first with the parent or parents, but then is supplemented by a church family as the church comes alongside mom and dad for support and encouragement.
Moses talks about the importance of this commitment in Deuteronomy 6 as he speaks to the nation of Israel concerning their commitment to know the Lord. Moses puts it like this:
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 ESV
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
In this passage Moses commands the people of Israel to make teaching their children about God and His commandments a priority in their life. So much so that they would go to great lengths to teach it.
That they would talk about it as they sit in their home, as they sit at the table for breakfast, as they play out in the yard together, and before they tuck their kids in for bed.
Which is why again we are taking time today for this important ceremony, because not only is it Biblical, but it represents our commitment as individuals and as a church family to raise our children to know the Lord.
That being said, between the two services today we have 17 infants and young children that we are dedicating to the Lord. And in dedicating them, we are making a commitment to raise them to know Jesus.
And so to get us started I want to take the next few moments to share with you from the Bible concerning this practice. Because as we dedicate these children to the Lord, I think it’s important we understand what exactly we are asking the Lord to do.
And so to do that I want to us a passage that at first my seem odd for a infant/child dedication service. But after we look at the passage and I give some explanation, I think you’ll see how fitting it is.
The passage is found in 1 Chronicles 4 and consists of one verse and one prayer. A prayer that was prayed by a man named Jabez.
In fact, you may have heard of this prayer because it’s often referred to as the “Prayer of Jabez”. I’m pretty sure there’s even been some books written about it.
And for me it’s one of the most powerful prayers in the Bible that someone could prayer over themselves or over someone else, and especially our children.
That being the case, as we prepare to dedicate these children today, I have two goals:
First, we’re going to read through the prayer so we know what the prayer is and what it means.
Second, after explaining it we are going to pray this prayer of blessing over those being dedicated.
And my hope is, that after understanding what this prayer represents, that you would not only be willing to pray it over these children this morning, but that you would also pray it over your children's lives regardless if they are getting dedicated today or not.
So, with that as our basis, let’s jump to 1 Chronicles 4 and find out what the prayer of Jabez is all about.
Beginning in verse 10 the writer records it like this:
1 Chronicles 4:10 ESV
10 Jabez called upon 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 harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
Now, I know at first glance there doesn’t seem to be much to this prayer, but the prayer is actually loaded with content as Jabez lays four specific requests before the Lord.
So, for the next few moments we’re going to look at each request. Here’s the first one.
REQUEST #1 - Jabez requested that the Lord would BLESS him.
We see this in the beginning of verse 10 as Jabez begins his prayer by praying, “Oh that you would bless me.”
Now, if I’m being honest, that almost sounds like a selfish request, right? As if we as Americans aren’t blessed enough. As if our kids aren’t spoiled enough. That we would now ask God to bless them more.
Because I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to a third world country, and we as Americans are blessed.
So, if I’m being transparent, I’ve always struggled with praying for more blessing in my life. Because like most Americans, I’m blessed beyond measure.
But what we need to understand is that when Jabez asks God to bless him, he’s not asking God to give him more material possessions to meet his own personal needs, wants, or desires.
In other words, he’s not asking that God would give him a new Corvette, or an iPhone 13, or a big giant home. That’s now what Jabez is after.
So, what’s he after? What does he want God to bless him with?
The answer is found in the word blessing here, which is translated from the Hebrew word “barek”, and it literally means “to push you forward further than you could have gone on your own.”
In other words, it’s the idea that in your own power you only have the ability to go so far, and so you’re asking God to push you beyond your own ability.
Which means, this isn’t about asking God to give you more material possessions for selfish purposes. Instead this is about asking God to give you more of what you don’t have so you can accomplish what He’s called you to do.
So, a great question would be, “As Christ followers, what has God called us to do?” How about this. To be a blessing to others.
And so in a sense, when Jabez asks God to bless him, he’s asking God to give him more of what only God can provide so that he can use it to bless others.
Which means what Jabez is praying is, “God bless me so that I can bless others.”
So, when we pray for blessing, we aren’t asking for more for us, but instead more so we can bless others with our abundance.
And yes, those could be material things. Which means, when you pray that God would bless you with financial resources it’s not so you can necessarily be more blessed financially, but that you can be more of a blessing to others.
And to be honest, this is a hard concept for American Christians to grasp, largely because we are so materialistic. Which is why I think many times God doesn’t bless people.
James talks about this when he writes:
James 4:3 ESV
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
James says the reason God doesn’t give some people what they ask for is because they are asking for selfish reasons.
In other words, they don’t want to be blessed to be a blessing, instead, they want to be blessed so they can be blessed.
Do you see the difference?
What’s intersting though is it applies to more than just material possessions.
So, for example, if you’re praying for God to bless you with more joy in your life, which is something we all want and need, then part of your motive should be that you’d be willing to give some of it away. That you would be willing to give some of the joy God gives you to others. Because if you’re willing to do that, God is going to dump a truckload of joy on your life.
The same would be true of anything we pray and ask God for in our lives. That when we ask we ask with a heart of generosity. So that when we pray for blessing we are praying that God would make us a conduit of His blessing for others.
So, here’s how that applies to our baby and child dedications this morning. I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to not only be blessed, but to also be a blessing.
In other words, I want the blessings of God to flow in and then out of my kids and into the lives of others.
I mean can you imagine what the world would be like if we all operated with that mentality. That instead of living for ourselves we lived for the good and blessing of others.
It would be a different world wouldn’t it?
That being the case, as we dedicate these children this morning we are going to ask God to not only bless them, but that they would be a conduit of God’s blessing. That as God pours out his blessing on their lives, out of their abundance, they would pour it into the lives of others.
This leads us to the second request that Jabez makes:
REQUEST #2 - Jabez requested that God would give him greater influence.
We see this as Jabez continues his prayer:
“Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border...”
So, not only does Jabez pray that God would bless him in order to bless others, but he asks God to enlarge his border, which means he’s asking God to expand his influence.
In other words, Jabez is praying that God would give him opportunities to make a difference. To be a person that influences and impacts the world he lives in, whether it be his neighbors, the school his kids go to, the governing officials who govern over him, or whoever God puts in his path. Jabez wants to have influence that expands the kingdom of God.
This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:14-16 where says:
Matthew 5:14–16 ESV
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
What Jesus is implying is that we are to be an influence on those around us. That we are to be a light that shines in the darkness. A city on a hill. A place people look to to find answers. A place people look to to find hope. Why? So that through our influence we will have an opportunity to lead them to Jesus.
Again, I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to have that kind of influence. An influence that leads people out of darkness and into light. An influence that shows them there’s a better way. An influence that points them to a God who loves them and cares for them.
But, if we want our kids to have that kind of influence, then we need to start praying it into their lives right now. Which why we are going to pray for these children today to have influence. That through their deeds, actions, and behaviors they would become world changers for Jesus.
This leads us to Jabez’s third request:
REQUEST #3 - Jabez requested God’s presence in his life.
We see this as Jabez continues to pray:
“…and that your hand might be with me...”
What Jabez is praying for here is the presence of God in his life. That God’s hand would be on his life.
And it makes sense that Jabez would want that, because who wouldn’t. But what we need to understand is that Jabez prayed for God’s presence for a specific reasons.
Because if God blesses him with more than he needs in order to bless others, and he gives him opportunities to be an influence, then Jabez is going to need God’s presence in his life. Jabez is going to need God’s help to do what only God could do through the blessings and influence that God gives him.
We see an example of this in Acts 11 as the believers faced intense persecution because of the influence they were having. Luke records it like this:
Acts 11:21 ESV
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
Luke says the reason the early believers were able to persevere despite the persecution is because God’s hand was on their lives.
The fact is, if we want to truly influence others, then we need God’s hand on our lives. We need His presence going before us as God leads, guides, and directs our steps.
The Psalmist puts it like this:
Psalm 37:23–24 ESV
23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; 24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.
The prophet Isaiah says it like this:
Isaiah 48:17 ESV
17 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
Both the Psalmist and Isaiah agree. If we’re going to accomplish the work God has given us, we need God’s presence in our life. Otherwise, we’re sunk.
So, if we’re going to pray that God would bless our kids in order to bless others, and give them influence to impact the world they live in, then we also need to pray for God’s presence on their life.
That His presence would be with them as they grow and develop in their infant, toddler, and preschool years.
That His presence would be with them and go before them as they attend that first day of school.
That His presence would guide and lead them through the teenage years and into adulthood.
That whatever blessings and influence God gives them, that His presence would be there to support, guide, empower, and help them accomplish God’s plan and purpose for their life.
Jabez wanted God’s presence, and we should want that for our kids as well.
This now leads us to Jabez’s final request. Because along with blessing, influence, and presence:
REQUEST #4 - Jabez requests God’s protection.
We see this at the end of verse 10:
“…and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!”
So, why would Jabez pray for protection? He prays for protection because if you’re going to be light in darkness, then you can be sure the enemy is going to come against us.
In fact, we know this is to be true for the Christian. Paul puts it like this in Ephesians 6:12
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Paul says that all around us there is a spiritual battle taking place as demonic forces work to undermine the plans and purposes of God.
And so you just have to know if you’re a part of accomplishing God’s plan and purpose, and you’re praying that God would give you more influence in the world around you, then the enemy is going to come after you.
Which is why Jabez prays for protection, because he knows he needs God’s protection.
And how much more true is that for our children. The fact is, our children are living in a world that has lost its mind. A world where up is now down and down is now up. A world where nature itself is being questioned. A world where anything goes. A world with the enemies fingerprints all over it.
And so if our children are going to survive and overcome the attack of the enemy, they are going to need God’s protection.
Protection as they go to school.
Protection over their minds as the culture tries to indoctrinate them with ungodly teaching.
Protection over their bodies as the enemy tries to bring physical, mental, and emotional harm.
Church, we have to pray for the protection of our children.
Now, you might be thinking, “Wow pastor, you make it sound like I’m sending my kind into a war zone”.
You are. It’s a spiritual war zone called the world. And if we want your kids to survive then we need to be on the front lines of prayer asking for God’s protection.
And the good news is, if we pray for these things, this is a prayer that God will answer. Because look at what the writer says happened after Jabez prayed:
“And God granted what he asked.”
The writer says as Jabez prayed for blessing to bless others, as he prayed for influence to impact his world, and as he prayed for God’s presence and protection in his life, that God responded to his prayer and granted his request.
That being the case, I can’t think of a better prayer to pray over these children today, because it’s a prayer that when He hears, God grants the request.
And the truth is, it’s not only a prayer we should pray over our children, but a prayer we should all be praying in our lives.
That God would bless us, not for our own blessing, but for the blessing of others.
That God would give us influence. Not so we can be a somebody, but that we could point people to the real somebody, to Jesus.
That God’s presence would go before us as He guides, leads, empowers, and directs our steps.
That God’s protection would shield us as the enemy works to undermine God’s plan and purpose in our lives.
The prayer of Jabez should be a prayer we all pray if we truly want to be world changers.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a world changer, and I especially want these kids we are dedicating today to become world changers.
To become men and women of God who will make an impact for the Kingdom of God and lead many to faith in Jesus.
So, with that said, I want to invite our parents and those being dedicated up to the platform as we dedicate them to the Lord and pray this prayer over their lives.
Psalm 91:9–16 (ESV)
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
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