“May God give you
showers from the sky,
olive oil from the earth,
plenty of grain and new wine.
May the nations serve you,
may peoples bow down to you.
Be the most powerful man among your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Those who curse you will be cursed,
and those who bless you will be blessed.” Genesis 27:28-29
I’ve always tried to pray for my children. It’s usually the same prayer, over and over again. I ask for God to be with them, for his Spirit to be upon them. I pray that they grow in his love and live their lives in service to him.
Of course, there are other prayers, as well. Prayers for healing when they are sick, prayers for peace when they are anxious, prayers for understanding when they’re struggling.
But this year, as my boys headed off to school once again, I wanted to give them something more. I wanted to impart something to them before they left home–something they could carry with them through their day–something that would remind them of who they are. I wanted to give them a blessing.
But what is a blessing, exactly? And how can we make the act of blessing a meaningful practice?
In its most literal sense, a blessing is a gift from God. It is something God bestows upon his people for the purpose of protecting them or uplifting them. Scripture is full of the promises of God’s blessings on his people. Follow me, God says. Walk in my ways and you will be blessed above all nations. Blessing is at the heart of the Old Testament covenant.
Jesus, in his final meal, blessed the bread and wine that became for us the body and blood of the New Covenant. He blessed his disciples before ascending to heaven and imparted on them the gift of the Holy Spirit as they went out and proclaimed the Gospel message.
Throughout his letters, the apostle Paul offered the blessings of grace and peace to the churches he was shepherding through opposition and persecution. And while the benediction of grace and peace may have been a common practice, I don’t believe that Paul wrote these words as a “feel good” conclusion to a difficult situation. Rather, I believe that Paul wrote these words fully believing and anticipating the Holy Spirit’s power to dwell within them. This wasn’t a generic “sincerely”. This was a true imparting of God’s power and being.
So, what does that mean for us, exactly? Do we have the power to bless as Jesus and the apostles blessed? I think so. I think we can offer our own blessings to our children, our spouses, our churches and our communities. That’s not to say that trouble won’t come, that we will be happy, prosperous and well. But I think that when we speak a blessing, the Spirit is there.
My blessings on my boys in the morning are very simple. My husband always chuckles because I co-opted the formula from The Help.
I look them in the eyes, place my hands on their heads, and speak words of affirmation. To my oldest, I remind him that he is kind, he is a good friend, he is a hard worker. These are all qualities that I see in him and qualities that I want him to continue to develop. To my youngest, I remind him that he too is kind, a hard worker and a problem solver. Most importantly, I remind them that they are loved.
I don’t know what kind of an impact this will have on my boys’ days at school. But I like to think that it makes some difference. If nothing else, they hear words of love and affirmation as they begin their day. And isn’t that at the heart of the Gospel message anyway?
Blessings and Peace,