"And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow" (I Chronicles 4:9).
Though neither his parents nor descendants are included, the name of Jabez has apparently been inserted in the genealogical lists of I Chronicles because of a notable prayer of his. In spite of its seemingly selfish nature, his prayer was answered when he "called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it might not grieve me!" (I Chronicles 4:10).
The birth of Jabez had evidently been accompanied by some kind of pain or sorrow, for the name he was given means, "to grieve." Perhaps his brothers had been a grief to his mother in some way, and he wanted to compensate. Since the account does not elaborate, we don't know the background.
In any case (precisely because we don't know) it is doubtful whether this prayer should be taken as a model prayer for modern believers. The prayer taught by Jesus to his disciples when they asked Him to teach them provides a more certain guide (see Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4).
In that prayer, the first request is not to "bless me" but rather "thy kingdom come" and then "thy will be done." Neither did He tell us to pray for a larger "coast" (that is "territory") but simply to provide "day by day our daily bread."
Sometimes God does answer what may seem to be a self-centered prayer, but there should always be a God-centered reason when we pray such a prayer, and Jabez no doubt had such a reason. We never want to have our prayers answered in the sense of Psalm 106:15--God "gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." HMM