Most Christians define a “blessing” as “something good that comes from God.” God certainly can provide a lot of good things – health, wealth, happiness, salvation, the promise of heaven, forgiveness of sin… Some people say children are a blessing. I have two adorable grandkids, Tucker and Tessa. Tessa, the future Miss Mississippi, recently turned one. If she were any sweeter, she would be a lump of sugar. Tucker is two-and-half. He and I have a complicated relationship – I ask him to do stuff and he says “no.” We’re working things out.
We often “bless our food” before we eat a meal, which seems confusing because the food IS the blessing, isn’t it? Some folks say, “bless you” when you sneeze. I saw this sign recently, “Bless This Mess.” It was hung over someone’s workspace, which certainly was a mess with loose papers, food wrappers, family snapshots and half-empty drink bottles all over the place. Timothy Cratchit famously said, “God bless us, every one” in A Christmas Carol. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” is a familiar doxology, which the dictionary defines as a “a liturgical formula of praise to God.” I should also define “liturgical,” but I’m tired of this paragraph.
I’m constantly asking for God’s blessings when I pray. I ask Him to bless me, my wife, my kids, my grandkids (even you, Tucker), my friends, my church, my business, my neighbors, missionaries, the persecuted church, government officials, the sick, the oppressed, the downtrodden (not sure what that means), those who are in need (spiritually and physically), the incarcerated, my relatives and even my in-laws. I want God to bless ‘em all.
It’s okay to ask God to provide “blessings” for yourself and others, but what precisely are we asking for? I suppose we are asking for health, wealth, happiness and all the rest. But is that what we really need? Looking back over my own life, some of the greatest blessings I’ve ever received were spiritual, not material. Despite my life experience, I still pray, or at least long for, things that will make my life more comfortable – freedom from illness, a secure income, happy kids and so forth. Those things are nice and it’s okay to want them, but there is a much greater blessing that we should desire.
Paul wrote the book of Philippians while he was in prison. He was often cold and hungry. Yet, it was in jail that he found the secret of happiness – Jesus. Paul discovered that complete and total reliance on the Lord results in peace and contentment. Material blessings like a comfortable house, a lucrative job and even good health may come and go. The big kahuna of blessings is a close relationship with God Himself. He is not only the source of blessings, He is THE BLESSING.
See how that perspective changes your prayer life.