Will You Ask the Blessing? Blessing in Spirit and in Truth

Dr. Connie C. Bull:

A blessing is a circle of light drawn around a person to protect, heal, and strengthen. –John O’Donohue, Irish poet & priest (1956-2008)

Will you offer the blessing?  We hear this phrase often at mealtime, even perhaps daily. If we pause to consider, though, we realize that blessing is not only connected to meals. Throughout the Bible, blessing is connected to belonging.[1] Our common speech patterns, however, do not imply belonging when we are quick to say “Bless his heart” or “Lord, bless her” when speaking of a personality flaw in someone. Instead, we are covertly lying to hide the disdain we feel under the surface.  Thus, we have twisted the biblical meanings what it is to bless; blessings are to be prayers for deliverance and a “made-new worldview” as we bless in Jesus’ name, our Deliverer.

The Old Testament uses nine different meanings of the term “bless” including greeting/leavetaking in peace, prevailing power over enemies, wisdom, prosperity, benediction, transfer of power, respect, praise, and thanksgiving.  In the New Testament, Christ embodies these, and blesses into belonging both young and old in His ministry. Jesus’ last earthly act was blessing (Luke 24:51)—a ministry for more than church staff, but rather for all Christ’s followers to continue.

[1] Claus Westermann, Blessing in the Bible and the Life of the Church, trans. Keith Crim (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), 19.

Want to read the rest of Connie’s wonderful work? Please click the “Read More” link below.

Many of the blessings below contain the same four adjectives: strong, gentle, generous, and wise.  These four adjectives stem from the desire that every person, and especially children, find a sense of belonging as he or she learns to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30)—hence, “strong, gentle, generous, and wise”. These four qualities also align with the first four of seven substantives of Rev 5:12:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.

Power, riches, wisdom, and strength are attributes of Christ that believers can aspire to imitate. As we learn to walk our journey of faith imitating these four, we are enabled through Christ’s grace to walk with Him in “honor, glory, and blessing” as in the conclusion of Rev. 5:12. In Genesis, God’s first interaction with humanity is blessing; so blessing is in God’s plan for us from Genesis to Revelation. The blessings I’ve collected here are also Trinitarian because God is the Author of blessing, Christ is the Exemplar of blessing and the Holy Spirit is the Custodian of blessing.

How much could receiving a personal blessing benefit you?  Your child?  Grandchild? Your spouse? Your congregation?  Blessing is not only encouragement for us, but a way to bless our enemies. Though we may have heard that scriptural instruction often, many have never been presented a way to bless those who injure or neglect us.  Blessing as peacemaking and social justice is also part of God’s plan for our journeys—at every age.

To rephrase John Killinger:[1]  Bless God for self’s sake. Bless self for self’s sake. Bless God for God’s sake. Bless self for God’s sake… Bless others for the sake of the gospel.

Blessings Ancient and Future

The blessings below are rooted in Scripture.  As you pray a blessing over someone, insert the correct pronoun or name at blanks/italics to personalize the blessing to follow Jesus’ example.  Jesus blessed children by both his words and his loving hands (Mark 10:13-16). Blessings can be spoken, written letters, or even texts. Whatever you choose, bless in word and deed like Jesus!

Blessings based on the Scriptures

Genesis 14:19-20

Blessed be ________by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.  And praise be to God Most High, who has defeated your enemies for you. In the name of the Trinity, God Most High, Amen.

Numbers 6:24-26

_________, the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Amen

Proverbs 3:1-4

            Lord, may _________ never forget Your teaching.  Let his/her heart keep Your commandments.  Then Lord, we trust in Your promise to bless all his/her days and You will add peace to his/her life.

May kindness and truth never leave him/her.  Lord, may ______ bind them around his/her neck like gold and write them on his/her heart.  We trust Your promise, Lord, to give ________ favor and a good standing in Your eyes and with others. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Proverbs 3:5-8

O Lord, Three in One, may _________trust in You with all his/her heart and may he/she not lean on his/her own understanding.  But may ________seek to know what You would want him/her to do in all things.  We trust in Your promise to make his/her paths straight.

May ________ never try to be wise in his/her own eyes, but come to value You above all else and keep turning away from evil ways and thinking.  Amen.

Daniel 10:12, 19

Don’t be afraid, ________.  Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven…Don’t be afraid, for you are very precious to God.  Peace!  Be encouraged!  Be strong!  This we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Matthew 11: 28-30                                       

_________, may the Holy Spirit of God guide you to become like Jesus, “humble and gentle at heart.” May you gain wisdom from His teaching, and generous with your compassion for others.  May you find true rest in Him.  Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

 Now, __________,  may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

The Shepherd’s Blessing

Loving Shepherd,

You gather the lambs in your arms

and call them each by name.

Move the hearts of your child/children,______,

to know your love.

Light a spark in their hearts

that they may be like sunshine.

May they grow strong and gentle,

generous and wise.

And when they go wrong,

may they know your forgiveness.

This we ask for Love’s sake, Amen.

Lois Kauffman, copyright 2000

Mary Lehman Yoder, copyright 2000

Adapted by Connie C. Bull from http://im.mennonite.net/resources/documents/Blessing.PDF

The First Years Blessing

Thank you, God, for our son/daughter, ______.

Lord, be the source of his/her joy and the Source of his/her life.  Help me/us to love ______ as You do.

Thank you, Jesus, for the way he/she is already growing into the person You designed him/her to be.  I am/We are honored that I am/we are his/her   mom/dad/family.

Lord, I/we know how special ______ is to You.  By the watchcare of Your Holy Spirit, I/we pray that ________may realize how valuable he/she is to us now and forever…  May _______ become all You intend him/her to be.  Help him/her to be strong and gentle, generous and wise.

Open his/her eyes to all Your miracles.  I/We bless _______ now in the name of Jesus, who is God’s blessing to all the world.  Amen.

Adapted by Connie C Bull from Gary Smalley and John Trent, The Blessing, p. 234 or The Gift of the Blessing, p. 260

A Blessing through the Years

Thank You, God, for our son/daughter, ______.

I/We ask that You be the source of his/her joy and the Source of his/her life.  Help me/us to love ______ as You would.

Thank You, Jesus, for the way he/she is already growing into the unique person You designed him/her to be.  I am/We are honored that I am/we are   his/her    mom/dad/family.

Lord, I/we know how special ______ is to You.  By the watchcare of Your Holy Spirit, I/we pray that ________may realize how valuable he/she is to us now and forever.

May _______ become all You intend him/her to be.  Help him/her to be strong and gentle, generous and wise.

Open his/her eyes to all Your miracles.  I/We bless _______ now in the name of Jesus, who is God’s blessing to all the world.  Amen.

Adapted by Connie C Bull from Gary Smalley and John Trent, The Blessing, p. 234 or The Gift of the Blessing, p. 260

 A Blessing for Friends

Thank You, God, for __________.

I ask that You be the source of his/her joy and the Source of his/her life.  Help me to love ______ as You would.

Thank You, Jesus, for the way he/she is already growing into the unique person You designed him/her to be.  We are honored that we are his/her family.

Lord, I know how special ______ is to You.  By the watchcare of Your Holy Spirit, I pray that ________may realize how valuable he/she is to us now and forever.

May _______ become all You intend him/her to be.  Help him/her to be strong and gentle, generous and wise.

Open his/her eyes to all Your miracles.  I  bless _______ now in the name of Jesus, who is God’s blessing to all the world through His faithful, even through ______ and me.  Amen.

Adapted by Connie C Bull from Gary Smalley and John Trent, The Blessing,(1986) p. 234 or their expanded edition, The Gift of the Blessing, (1993) p. 260

A Blessing for Enemies

Thank You, God, for loving __________.

I pray, O Holy Spirit, that you will pursue him/her daily to become the Source of his/her joy and the Source of his/her life.  Help me to love ______ and to forgive as You do.

Lord, I know how special ______ is to You.  By the watchcare of Your Holy Spirit, I pray that ________may realize how valuable he/she is now and forever.

May _______ become all You intend him/her to be.  Help him/her to be strong and gentle, generous and wise.

Open his/her eyes to all Your miracles.  Through the same grace that has forgiven me, I bless _______ now in the name of Jesus, who forgives us all and gave His life out of love for ______and for me.  Amen.

Adapted by Connie C Bull from Gary Smalley and John Trent, The Blessing,(1986) p. 234 or their expanded edition, The Gift of the Blessing, (1993) p. 260

A Blessing from the Scottish Isles (Iona Community)

 Look, Lord, on Your child, _______, who loves Your name and needs Your care.  Let Your hands be known in the touch of friends.

Forgive in ________ what has gone wrong.

Repair in ________ what has been misguided.

Reveal in ________what is good.

that he/she may see Your light, and  that he/she may be Your light.  Amen.

Adapted by Connie C. Bull, 2009 Wild Goose Worship Group. A Wee Worship Book: Fourth incarnation. Glasgow, UK:  Wild Goose Publications, 2006.

[1]John Killinger, For God’s Sake, Be Human, (Brooklyn: Word Books, 1970), 47.

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