Over the next month or so, I will be reworking an earlier series on benedictions for a book. I have been trying to do it in addition to my blog posts and I can’t get it done. So, I’ll just share it here with you. Feel free to tell me what is helpful for you and what isn’t. My plan is to have an ebook as well as a paperback option if you choose the book. I want to give you space to interact with the material as well as journal there. I would love to have a spiral bound option for this journal, but am not sure that will be an option for me. I would also appreciate your prayers for me as I work on this project.
What is a benediction?
The simple definition of a benediction is the utterance or bestowing of a blessing. That can be done in both a formal setting and an informal one. Many of us are used to the formal benediction at the end of a church service. But do you listen to the words? In some churches, we raise our hands to receive the benediction. Often, it reminds us to think the words over in our minds. There are at least ten common benedictions and a few others that pastors often use in worship services. Did you know you can also use them to encourage each other. That is what many in the early church used them for. I highly recommend that you memorize these. They will encourage you and those you speak them to.
What is a blessing?
A blessing is a favor or gift bestowed by God. When we pray a blessing over someone, we are asking for God’s favor for them, often in a specific area. This can even include intangibles such as mercy, love, or patience, to name a few. We are asking for God to give a person something in line with what we know from His word, He would want for them. That is why it is wise to pray Scripture for them or at least to be steeped in Scripture before we go out praying “blessings” over people that aren’t truly from God.
Has anyone prayed a blessing over you when you needed it? It may have been a blessing of specific encouragement or a blessing of praying for something you needed at a certain point such as patience or wisdom or even the ability to forgive someone. I have found nothing is able to bring on tears like those kinds of prayers. They touch me at a very deep place. How about you?
Praying or sharing benedictions over others
Imagine if we were speaking and praying blessings over one another. I think the early church was like that. We don’t need to have a pastor speaking a benediction over us, but it is nice. It is powerful in the context of a worship service, full of brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly if it is our home church where we are actively involved.
These are also wonderful to memorize for the benefit of our minds, as well as for the benefit of those around us. How wonderful to be able to pass them on to each other and have them as part of our everyday conversation.
The speaking of a blessing or quoting of one is also very powerful as well. It can be simply reciting a blessing from the Bible over your child as he goes off to school, as she faces a tough day, or to your spouse on a normal work day. It can be as simple as giving them a compliment, telling them something you admire about them that you know is meaningful to them, or as powerful as words from God’s Word.
Any believer can speak those words of blessing over another believer in Christ. In fact, we can pray blessings for others who don’t believe in God. He gives common grace to everyone. There is no reason we can’t pray blessing for someone’s life whether they are a Christian or not. Receiving a blessing as a non-Christian falls into the category of common grace. But they will never fully know God’s blessing unless they have fully accepted His gift of grace.
As you read each benediction, realize they are solid, down-to-earth pieces of hope that tell you who God is, give a promise and are concrete. They are not fluffy or ethereal.
A helpful definition of hope is confident assurance based on the person and promises of God. Each benediction is full of hope.
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,
equip you with everything good that you may do his will,
working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21 ESV
- Which attributes of God are mentioned? How does that help you understand who God is?
- What word pictures are given? How do they add texture to this blessing? How do they help you understand more about who God is, what He has done for you, is doing for you, wants to do for you? How do they give you hope?
- What promises are given?
Work your way through those phrases and write what you learn as you think about what this passage is talking about and how God might be wanting to apply it to your life as well as deepen your view of Him.