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The Journey to Blessing: Making Right Requests of God

‘“Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.’ 

- 1 Chronicles 4:10 -


What would you ask for if God appeared to you and said He would grant one request? Well, it actually happened to Solomon. “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’” (1 Kings 3:5). We all know that Solomon asked for wisdom and that God granted it. But the truth is, God asks us all that same question throughout our walk with Him. Jesus says in John: “whatever you ask the Father in My Name He will give you” (15:16). And again: “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My Name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (16:23, 24). There is nothing wrong with asking, as long as our requests are right.

 

So, what would you ask for? Solomon’s famous request reveals the proper pattern. He says: “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:9). This earnest leader and son of David asks for the wisdom to better serve God and His people. Solomon sought first the kingdom of God, and not his own interests. And because of his unselfishness, God also blessed Solomon with riches and honor. To this day, despite his later shortcomings, Solomon is known as the wisest and richest king who ever lived.


 

 

In 1 Chronicles 4, an unknown man named Jabez prays a daring prayer that holds the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God. Jabez doesn’t stand out like Moses or David in the Old Testament, or like early New Testament believers who turn the world upside down in the Book of Acts. In fact, we find Jabez hiding in the least read section of one of the least read books of the Bible. 1 Chronicles starts with one long genealogy all the way from Adam up to Israel’s return from captivity. From this list of unfamiliar and difficult names, a story of great importance suddenly breaks through.

 

‘Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested’ (1 Chron. 4:9-10). Notice where he asks God: “enlarge my territory.” This was not a request for more real estate. In essence, Jabez is saying: “O God and King, please expand my opportunities and my influence in a way that I touch more lives for Your glory. Let me do more for You!” Because his heart is upright, God grants Jabez his request.



With this in mind, turn to Elijah and Elisha. The great prophet Elijah will soon be taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. God has chosen a farmer, Elisha, to carry on the role of prophet in the land. Before his departure, ‘Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” And Elisha said, ‘Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me”’ (2 Kings 2:9). Elisha, like Solomon and Jabez, seeks to serve God to a greater degree. We all ought to hunger for this. Hear Jesus on the subject: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). What a promise!


Hunger and thirst signal that we are due to be filled. Our cup is set to overflow with the anointing of God. Elisha wants a double-portion of Elijah’s prophetic anointing, but first his mentor takes him to four destinations. There are no pointless details in the Word of God. Scripture never simply fills up space. Each and every verse is significant, and so it is with Elisha’s journey. First, Elijah takes Elisha to Gilgal, where Israel camped after crossing the Jordan and entering the Promised Land. It was at Gilgal that manna stopped falling from heaven to feed the people. Elisha must learn that living by faith is the first step to full potential. When manna ceased, life got a little harder. The Israelites had to plow and plant in order to eat. Just so, faith demands work from us as faith without works is dead, and God seeks to strengthen our spiritual muscles.



Next, Elijah takes Elisha to Bethel (2 Kings 2:2). It was at Bethel that Jacob wrestled all night with God. God tried to pull away, but Jacob held on even tighter. What was God doing? He was testing how much Jacob wanted His blessing. God said “No!” but Jacob said “Yes!” and so Jacob struggled with God and prevailed. Here Elisha learns that if we don’t wrestle with God, we wrestle with man. If Jacob hadn’t wrestled with God, he would have wrestled with Esau, who was in hot pursuit of his deceitful twin brother. So like Jacob, if we want to prevail in life, we must embrace God’s election of us and cling to Him in faith.


After struggling with God, Jacob’s hip was thrown it out of joint. He would limp the rest of his life. Why did this happen? Was Jacob getting the best of God, so the Almighty injured him to gain the advantage? Of course not! So why the limp? Well, we know Jacob wanted to be blessed, declaring: “I will not let You go until You bless me!” (Gen. 32:26). So what comes next? The blessing? No, the limp! Jacob receives his limp before he receives his blessing. A limp means always needing someone or something to lean on to achieve simple or complex tasks. Jacob’s limp means if we want to walk in God’s blessings, we must learn to lean on Him for the struggles ahead. Remember that God’s blessing doesn’t put us on a beach sipping pineapple juice between two palm trees. Being saved means entering a spiritual war! Jesus warns us to “count the cost” (Luke 14:28) and our giving returns a hundredfold but only “with persecutions” (Mark 10:30). It is a struggle to walk in the perfect will of God, but He is our strength and our shield; our hearts trust in Him and we are helped (Ps. 28:7).



Do roadblocks signal the end of our journey or are they steppingstones to a place that is ‘exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Eph. 3:20)? Success birthed through trials are like the farmer who puts down manure before the planting season. Just as manure fertilizes the soil so seeds will grow, so trials help us grow toward never giving up and pressing on in the good fight of faith. Remember, adversity is the devil’s response to our progress. Therefore, James instructs us to ‘count it all joy’ when trials come our way (1:2-4) and Paul tells the Romans that ‘if God be for us, who can be against us?’ (8:3). In Christ, we always win.

 

As wonderful as God’s blessings are, they aren’t for the faint-hearted. God says, “I have given help to one who is mighty” (Ps. 89:19), and James warns the unstable and double-minded man not to ‘suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord’ (1:7). When war comes our way, we rise above, confident that God is stronger than all the devil’s missiles. Just as Jacob’s limp came before his blessing, the cross came before the empty tomb. The believer’s struggle is a prelude to blessing, so hold on tight like Jacob did at Bethel as blessing is on the way.



The next city Elijah takes Elisha to is Jericho (2 Kings 2:4). It was near Jericho that Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness. Jesus went there alone, but waiting for Him was the devil himself. When we face spiritual evil, we will be tempted to cry out in frustration: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent” (Ps. 22:1-2). We may feel all alone like Jesus, but we learn from our Savior that all we need say at critical moments is: “It is written…” Remember Job, who suffered in his own spiritual wilderness but still said of God: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (13:15). We defeat the enemy by heeding David’s wisdom: ‘The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles’ (Ps. 34:17).


Great battles bring great victories. After Jericho, Elijah takes Elisha to the Jordan River. It’s here that Elijah asks his protégé: “What do you want?” The Jordan was significant in Israel’s history and in became even more significant at the start of Christ’s ministry. It stood for new beginnings, and so Jesus was baptized in the Jordan and the Holy Spirit came down like a dove and anointed Him with power and majesty. So it is fitting that Elisha asks for a double-portion of the prophetic spirit at the Jordan. Seven miracles were performed by Elijah, but fourteen are credited to Elisha. God indeed gave Elisha his double-portion, but not before he visited Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho. We must do the same if we too want to be blessed at the spiritual Jordan. It’s where our destiny begins in our service toward God!

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