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About 13 years ago some of the people of the church I served as pastor, including myself, committed to faithfully praying the prayer of Jabez (see I Chronicles 4:9-10). We believed that in this prayer we were asking God to give us more ministry to accomplish, as individuals and as the organized church we belonged to, and the power to carry out whatever ministries God gave us to do. it. I came to understand that the power we were praying for was God’s grace given to us through the Holy Spirit. Then it would be up to us to use the power of God’s Grace to do God’s will.
Soon after we began praying that prayer I began to feel overwhelmed with my pastoral responsibilities. The need for emergency pastoral care was on the increase. I was heavily involved in planning new ministries. There was all the preparations for special services during Holy Week and Easter. Then I was reminded that as the new chairperson of a Conference committee, I had to prepare and present a report and recommendations for the annual meeting of our Annual Conference, which was coming up very soon. All this, plus the usual weekly responsibilites of every pastor. I was becoming convinced that there was no way I was going to complete all the things that had to be done. It was one of those times when I was, if not angry, annoyed with God for putting all these things on me.
Then, when I was telling one of our members how I was feeling about all this, she reminded me that we we (including me), had been praying the Prayer of Jabez, and that God answers prayers. She said I shouldn’t be surprised that God had answered my prayers for more ministry.
However, the feeling that I couldn’t do it all persisted. Until I realized that I had not been praying the entire prayer. I had been asking God to give me more ministry, but forgetting to ask for the power – the grace – to do all the ministry he gave to me. I had been trying to do it all myself, forgetting that I can’t do anything without God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit. I was reminded that with God’s grace I can do anything that God wants me to do. So I began praying the full prayer, asking God to give me all the grace I needed to do his will. Of course, it was also implied, and made sense, that while God would give me the grace I needed, it would then be up to me to use it.
With that understanding, the result was that I accomplished everything God wanted me to do, according to his schedule – not mine. Also, there were a few things God pointed out to me that were things I wanted to do – but not what God wanted me to do. God’s message to me concerning those things was and still is “forget about them – at least for now. I’ll let you know later what, if anything, to do about those things”. Ever since then I have almost always remembered to pray for all the grace I need to carry out God’s will for me. And when I have used that grace, I have been able to do whatever God has given me to do.
Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed. My suggestion, based on my experience, is prayer. Pray for discernment to discover God’s will for you. Then pray for and use the power of God’s grace to do God’s will.
Grace and peace, Ray
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty Perez and Ray Gough