If you have gone to church for any services during your life (weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc.) there is a good chance you have heard words like these before:
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
It’s a blessing. It is given from one person to another. But it is also a prayer prayed by someone for the benefit of another.
It’s taken from the book of Numbers in the Bible, which reads like this:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (ESV)
You can see that the wording is similar – but not exactly the same. And that is what I want to explore in this post… praying scripture personally for one another for their good and for God’s glory.
“I’ll pray for you,” is something we might say often enough – or think we should say – but my experience is that, in general, we are very weak in this area. And brothers and sisters – we need to be better at it. That’s just the simple truth.
I first read about blessing others in a little booklet called A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children, by David Michael (you can find it here). In it the author not only tells why father’s should seek to bless their children, but how. I highly, HIGHLY recommend the book – and the practice. (I know others have written on this as well, but this little resource was powerful, easy to read and understand, as well as inexpensive.)
Michael shows how we can take scripture that is full of instruction and warning and encouragement and all manner of teaching – and pray it for our kids. His emphasis is on blessing them personally, in Christ’s name and for His name’s sake.
It’s not hard at all to motivate people to want to ask God to bless their children (who doesn’t want the blessings of God to be showered upon their offspring?). But I have found that using this same concept of taking passages and praying to God on someone else’s behalf is a powerful tool in the believer’s hands.
Saying things like, “Lord, I want to lift up my friend Tim as he goes for his new job interview, I know he really needs a better job,” is OK, and the Holy Spirit knows your heart so if that’s all you’ve got, by all means pray it! But it’s weak, and it’s not OK to just stay there.
How about praying like this instead, “Lord, please bless my friend Tim as he goes for his new job interview. You know that his heart is anxious – calm him and grant him peace. Help him Lord to remember that whatever circumstances he finds himself in to be content – for he can do all things through You who gives him strength. Lord, fill him as only the God of hope can. Fill him with all joy and peace as he trusts in You, so that he may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Help him to remember Lord, to cast all of his cares upon You, for You care for him. Help him to remember that you have promised to supply all his needs according to all Your riches and glory in Christ Jesus, and that we serve You, Lord, our God who is able to do infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine. Grant Tim peace today in You.”
If you were praying these words with Tim which one do you think would fill him with courage and confidence in the Lord? Which one would remind him who has his future and his good in His hands? And probably most importantly, which of these two prayers would bless Tim – and also, at the very same time – honor God the most?
These aren’t my words – I’m no better at praying than you or anyone else – these words are all from scripture: Philippians 4:11-13, 19; Romans 15:13; 1 Peter 5:7; and Ephesians 3:20.
I learned a long time ago that the Bible expresses my deepest needs and longings far better than I can. If it’s true for me as I’m trying to figure my own life out, it’s got to be true for all the people I care about, too!
If we believe that God himself breathed his very words into Scripture, and that they are life-giving truth sufficient to save, I’m guessing it’s a pretty good source to get our prayer-language from, eh?
Here are a few more so you can start to get the hang of this:
A prayer of blessing from Psalm 23 could be like this:
“Lord, show ______________ that you are her Shepherd. Help her to see that because of that, she will never be in want. Show her Lord, that in the greenest of pastures she can be content and lie down in rest. Show her that you will provide still waters for her thirsty soul. Lead her Lord, in the paths of righteousness, for Your name’s sake. Remind her Lord, that even when she walks through the darkness and in the shadow of death, she has nothing to fear, for You are with her. Teach her Lord the goodness and comfort of your rod and staff. Give her abundance in the face of her enemies. Anoint her and cause the cup of your goodness to overflow in her hands. Help her to know that Your goodness and mercy will follow her all the days of her life. And remind her, Lord, that in the end, she will live with you, in your house, under your protection and provision forever and ever. Amen.”
Do you think that if your daughter or friend or sister heard you praying for her like this it would speak to her inner-most being?
A prayer from Matthew 5:3-11 could go like this:
“Lord, grant __________________ the kind of poverty of spirit that leads him to the Kingdom of Heaven. Comfort him as he grapples with are mourns over his own sin, and also over the injustices he sees around him. Help him to be meek – seeking your will and not his own. Cause his soul to hunger and thirst for righteousness as he hungers and thirst for food and water today. Satisfy him with only Yourself. Give him wisdom and power to be merciful, and do as You’ve promised Lord and show him mercy. Help him to see the state of his own heart as You see it Lord, and purify it so that he can see you clearly. Remind him of his calling to bring peace – your peace – to those around him and give him courage to speak boldly to those he interacts with today. Cause his speech to be so clear that everyone around him identifies him quickly as your son. And Lord, if he is persecuted because of it, remind him that nothing can take away his citizenship which is with You in heaven. If others speak ill of him, or lie about him, or scorn him because he is Your faithful servant speaking the truth in love, remind him of the great cloud of witnesses that has gone before him, who were faithful in the face of persecution and death because loving You and being faithful to You was worth far more than even their own lives. Grant him strength to follow hard after You today and every day Lord, for his good and for Your glory. Amen.”
Do you think your husband or your son or brother would go into their day differently being prayed for like this?
I think I would.
Listen – I need this, too. I pray this way often by myself, but I don’t do it often enough in the hearing of others. What a precious gift I withhold from those I love and care about when I don’t.
Will you join me today in looking for ways to bless others AND honor God in this way today?
Share your stories with me. Help us, Lord, to encourage one another and spur one another on to love and good deeds…. That’s my prayer for YOU.