Jabez called upon the God of Israel saying, “Oh that you would bless me . . .” 1 Chronicles 4:10 (ESV)
Bless – This word is barak. Examining it as a noun, we find that receiving a blessing in the Old Testament means getting something favorable from someone greater. The paradigm case is the transmission of a blessing from God to Man. Throughout the Old Testament, the central idea of God’s blessing is that bountiful life depends solely upon the goodness and faithfulness of God.
This verse is the basis of the popular book, The Prayer of Jabez. The secret behind the prayer of Jabez is really nothing hidden at all. From Genesis to Revelation, God makes it clear that He is the only real source of prosperity in all of its forms. Jabez speaks a simple prayer – “God, bless me” – but within that prayer is the acknowledgement and admission that God is the only one who can bless and that God blesses for his purposes, not ours. That’s why the prayer uses the verb barak, not the verb ashar. Barak is a God-only word. It is also a word that applies only to those who manifest hesed and ‘emet (faithfulness). In the Tanakh, God does not bless those who do not demonstrate worthiness. Ashar is a verb that expresses something we can do that brings about a state of bliss (cf. Psalm 1:1). Ashar is the verb of conditional blessing. You and I do something and a state of bliss follows. Not so with barak. There is nothing you and I can do that will compel God to bless me. He blesses because hen and hesed are who He is.