- “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Friday, March 8, 2013
THE PRAYER OF BLESSING AND FAVOR
I pray for my immediate family every day. As a part of that prayer I declare God’s blessing and favor upon each of them. The basis for my declaration/prayer of blessing is found in Numbers 6:22-27 where Mogave instructions to Aaron, the first high priest of Israel, on how he was to bless the people:
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, 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. So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (ESV).
To “bless” means to confer well-being, resulting in joy and prosperity. There are three powerful promises for us in this well-known passage, sometimes referred to as “the priestly blessing.”
1. “The Lord bless you and keep you.”
The first part of the promise, “The Lord bless you,” is a declaration of the goodness of God. The blessing is declaring the favor of God upon all parts of our life: emotional, physical, material and relational.
The second part of the promise, “. . . and keep you,” states that in addition to the favor of God will come the protection of God, the keeping power of the Holy Spirit. “And through your faith, God is protecting you (keeping you) by his power . . .” (1 Peter 1:5, NLT).
2. “The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.”
What does it mean when it says He will make His face shine on us? Jewish writers give this statement meaning by defining the opposite, which would be “to hide His face.” When God hides His face He is showing His displeasure and removes His presence.
When God makes His face shine on us, He is showing His pleasure in us by dwelling with us. “Be gracious to you” means to show His favor, to bestow His favor on us.
This is the action of a parent who looks upon his child and smiles at him. This shows approval and brings comfort to the child, and that is exactly what this portion of the blessing is conveying. “Lifting up His countenance” is a Hebrew figure of speech meaning, “God is smiling on you.”
But that is not all! The promise goes on to say, “and give you peace.” The word peace as it is used here means to be finished or complete; it is speaking of harmony between conflicting forces. The peace God is promising is whole, complete, and it lacks nothing. When God smiles upon His children, a sense of security, acceptance, wholeness and peace is produced. Because the peace of God is reigning in our heart and life, we can enjoy all the promises of this blessing!
If you are a father, I encourage you to pray this blessing over your family regularly, every day if possible. My wife and I pray together daily. We pray about our day, we pray for our friends, we pray for the ministries that we support and are interested in, we pray for our nation and for its leaders, and for any pressing issues or needs that have been brought to our attention. I always finish our time of prayer by praying a blessing upon my family. I name each member of my family and speak/declare the blessing of God upon them.
If you are single and away from home, or perhaps you are the only believer in your family, please don’t feel that this blessing is not available to you. It is just as much yours as it is anyone’s. I encourage you to pray regularly for yourself; for example, you could pray this way:
“Heavenly Father, I thank You for blessing me and keeping me by Your great power; I thank You for making Your face to shine on me and extending Your grace and favor to me; I thank You for the comfort and assurance that I see in Your smile and the great peace that it brings to me! Thank You, Lord God Almighty, for blessing me!”
This wonderful passage finishes with God saying, “Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in My name, I myself will bless them” (verse 27, NLT). I would call that a lifetime guarantee!