1 Chronicles 4:9‐10Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother named him Jabez, saying 'Igave birth to him in pain' Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,"Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!Let your hand be with me and keep me from evil so that I may not cause pain.And God granted his request.If you don't know much about 1 Chronicles, the first eight chapters contain a genealogyof Israel which is full of names that I won't attempt to pronounce. That is, except for theprayer of Jabez. Have you ever noticed this prayer before? It is hidden in a list of namesoften skimmed and missed by readers. This is the only prayer mentioned throughout thegenealogy and so why is it so important ? What is so special about Jabez that his prayerand his name have never been forgotten?The first part reads, "Jabez was more honorable than his brothers" we can also read thisas his brothers were less honorable than him. Jabez looked at his family and sawsomething he wasn't satisfied with, something that could be improved upon, somethingthat challenged him to rise to a higher moral standard. And in this very first statement,Jabez is also setting a standard for us: to look around at the world and our brothers andsisters and challenge ourselves to seek a higher moral standard as well. As Virginiamentioned yesterday, our actions speak louder than our words and by challengingourselves to rise, we in turn are challenging those around us.In the next line of this passage, we are taken back to the birth of Jabez. "His mothernamed him Jabez, saying I gave birth to him in pain." There weren't any drugs back thenand I think we can say that every birth was painful. But what made Jabez's birthdifferent? So much that his mother named her child Pain. I was talking to a friend lastnight, who mentioned that she had been in labour 58 hours with the birth of her firstchild and that she had yet to meet anyone who topped that. 58 hours is almost 2 1/2days. Perhaps this is why Jabez's mother chose his name or maybe it was emotionalpain? We'll never know. But think of what it was like for Jabez, to start life with a namelike Pain.Yet Jabez does not ask God to change his name. Instead he starts his prayer with " Oh,that you would bless me and enlarge my territory." Often I wonder what I've done todeserve God's blessings, and that's the point ‐ I don't deserve them and yet God alwayswants to give us his blessings if only we would open our hearts to receive them.Jabez also asks God to enlarge his territory. This doesn't appear applicable to us todaybut in the time of Jabez, a man's territory would be the land he was most familiar withand a request for enlarged territory would add unfamiliar land to the familiar. Jabezdidn't specify what kind of territory and therefore didn't know what he would receive ‐would it be hilly or flat, fertile or arid? In today's life, a request for enlarged territory is arequest for God to take us outside of our comfort zone and from the familiar tounknown. Moving outside your comfort zone is like getting out of bed. We might notalways want to do it but at some point we have to.The bed is warm, safe andcomfortable but the second your feet touch the cold floor you are venturing into a newterritory ‐ one which is familiar but unfamiliar and different each day.