Some years ago, there was a popular book called “The Prayer of Jabez” that focused on the short prayer recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10:
“And Jabez 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 may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”
The book explores each of the four basic requests contained in the prayer:
- “Bless me indeed”
- “Enlarge my coast”
- “Be with me”
- “Keep me from evil”
You can probably see how a nice lesson can easily be built around at least three of the four requests, but it might not be as obvious what is meant by “enlarge my coast.”
The Hebrew word that was translated to “coast” in the above verse also means boundary, border, or limit. For example, the eastern and western boundaries of the U.S. that border oceans are referred to as the east coast and the west coast.
Based on this definition, our personal “coast” would refer to our own personal boundaries or limits. If you’ve ever looked into self-help books or videos, you would recognize the call to push yourself beyond your current limits — grow, be all you can be, etc. There is nothing wrong with this. All too often, we remain inside artificial boundaries created by ourselves or others such that we do limit what we can accomplish in life.
However, from a spiritual perspective, enlarging my coast has to include allowing the gifts that God has blessed me with to bless other people, too. One way of thinking about it is to say that you want your life to make a difference to others or that you want your span of influence to expand as wide as possible. This doesn’t have to be a prideful way of thinking. If you believe that God has blessed you with certain gifts, it’s only fitting that you would want those gifts to benefit as many people as possible.
So, consider your personal gifts from God. Can any of them benefit other people? If so, pray that God gives you the opportunity to enlarge your coast in order to share these gifts with others. If you have a musical gift, then seek opportunities to sing or play for as many people as possible. If you have a gift of spiritual knowledge, then seek opportunities to teach and share that insight with others. If God has blessed your life in any way, then seek opportunities to share your testimony with as many people as possible. These are just some examples of how your personal gifts can bless others when you seek to enlarge your coast.
Alma 63 gives a brief account of a man named Hagoth who is “exceedingly curious” and seeks to enlarge his coast by building a large ship that carries many of the Nephites to a land beyond the borders of the land where the Nephite nation has been residing. When the first voyage is successful, Hagoth builds more ships that carry additional people away. The record indicates that “they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea” (verse 8).
Of course, just because the Nephites who boarded the ships were never seen again by those who remained behind doesn’t mean that they drowned. In fact, it is believed by some that it was these travelers who populated the islands off the coast of the Americas and are the ancestors of the native people who reside there today. If that is true, then the actions of Hagoth to enlarge his personal coast resulted in the enlarging of the coast of the entire Nephite nation.
Likewise, your efforts to enlarge your personal coast will not only multiply the value that God has placed within you, but it can also help enlarge the coast of The Church of Jesus Christ. And that is something that benefits us all.
Writer’s Note: This concludes the most ambitious phase of this writing project — 63 blog articles relating to the Book of Alma. See below for an index to all of the other Alma articles. Next up will be the Book of Helaman. I appreciate all of the kind words I receive from the dedicated followers of this column. I’m so thankful that God is blessing you through what is being written.
Enlarge My Coast (this post)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.