The Jabez prayer is a revolutionary request. Just as it is highly unusual to hear anyone pray, "God, please bless me!" so it is rare to hear anyone plead, "God, please give me more ministry!" Most of us think our lives are too full already. But as your opportunities expand, your ability and resources supernaturally increase, too. Right away you'll sense the pleasure God feels in your request and His urgency to accomplish great things through you.
People will show up on your doorstep or at the table next to you. They'll start saying things that surprise even them. They'll ask for something--they're not sure what--and wait for your reply.
I call these encounters Jabez appointments.
I remember the first time I asked for one. It was in a very surprising place--aboard a ship off the coast of Turkey. I was traveling alone, scouting a tour company that specialized in taking groups around the Mediterranean, following the footsteps of the early church. We had enjoyed beautiful days, but I was getting lonelier by the day. The morning we anchored at Patmos, the island where John wrote the book of Revelation, I hit bottom.Instead of taking the guided tour, I walked around the streets of the little port talking to God. Lord, I feel so homesick and weak, I prayed. But I want to be your servant. Even now, enlarge my borders. Send somebody who needs me.
Entering a small square, I took a table at an outdoor cafe and ordered a cup of coffee. A few minutes later I heard a man's voice behind me. "You on the cruise ship?"I looked up to see a young man walking toward me. "Yes, I am," I said. "How about you?"
He said he was an American living on the island, then asked if he could join me. His name was Terry. Within minutes he was pouring out his story. As it turned out, his marriage was on the rocks. In fact, that day was the end. His wife had said she would be gone by evening.
"Do you want your wife to leave?" I asked. He said no.
"Open to a couple of ideas?" I offered. When he said yes, I knew it was the Lord's confirmation of another Jabez experience. I spent the next hour talking through several key biblical principles for a happy marriage. Terry hadn't heard of even one before.
By the time I was done, Terry was so anxious to give his new insights a chance to save his marriage that he jumped to his feet. "Listen, Terry," I said, "I really want to hear how things go for you and your wife today. Whatever happens, come by the boat before we sail and tell me, okay?"
Terry agreed, waved, and was gone. By that evening, everyone was back on board. I walked the deck, waiting. I was still lonely, kind of frustrated, and starting to second-guess what had gone on inside Terry over coffee. When the captain ordered the final blast announcing our departure, I walked to the back of the ship where the crew was busy throwing off stern lines. And there, running toward us along the shore, came a young couple hand in hand. When they got close enough to see me hanging over the rail, they started yelling. "It worked! We're together!"
The rest of the voyage I was so exhilarated at what God had done that I felt like I was floating without help from the ship. God had made an appointment for that young man and me. And He had been bringing us toward each other from the moment I had asked for a larger life in His service.