Crises and the Prayer of Jabez

Q: My question is regarding grief. Actually I suppose it is regarding prayer in any form of strain or fear, but grief especially.

If God is, as we believe, a God of love, omniscient, omnipresent and closer to us than we are to ourselves, then God must be aware of need, of danger, of emergency and impending tragedy. (Or tragedy already upon us.)  How then should we pray?  Why is it even necessary? If God knows our needs better than we do, and responds to them whether we know it or not, then the biggest challenge is to trust. And in the event of sorrow and grief, trusting is all but impossible. But prayer is not impossible, it just seems pointless. And anger is the most natural of impulses.

A:  I know the God of love, etc., that you believe in. 

I often have struggled with this question of how we should pray in crisis until I came upon the Jabez Prayer.  It is based on 1 Chronicles 4:10 (NABR):  “Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: Oh, that you may truly bless me and extend my boundaries. May your hand be with me and make me free of misfortune, without pain.” And God granted his prayer.

I have taken that scripture and created my own prayer. I have prayed it over many people who are in unexplainable situations, including myself. “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, send down upon your creature all the graces and blessings you want for them, expand their territory that they may do your will in ways that they have yet to imagine. They need your help, they cannot do this without you.  Keep them from evil; in their desire to do good may that not cause more harm and may their loved ones and friends who are looking into your face help them live more deeply in the intimacy with your Divine Presence.  Show them the way in and thru this situation.  Amen.”  I believe this prayer is supportive of our Centering Prayer practice.

You mentioned the seeming pointlessness of prayer if God knows our needs better than we do.  I offer the view that we can give prayer a purpose when we know we are joining in what God wants for us rather than what we want at the moment.

And anger is the most natural of impulses, yet it can be the other side of love if dealt with in a godly manner, as one author said.  Or to paraphrase Fr. Thomas, when the passion of anger is distilled out, the energy of anger can be very useful. – Fr Carl.