Wednesday, July 20, 2016


When I was a teenager growing up in a small south Georgia town, church and school formed the nucleus of my social life.  One of the church functions attended weekly was Methodist Youth Fellowship, better known as MYF.  Each Sunday night gathering ended with all of us standing in a circle, holding hands, and saying the MYF benediction:  "The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace."  I am not sure I knew at the time I was quoting Numbers 6:24-26.  Reading the 20th Psalm has caused me to remember those days and to realize that what we called a benediction was really more a blessing.  As we said those words we were blessing each other.
We often receive blessings.  When a sneeze is heard, someone will inevitably say, "Bless you."  And, so very often a stranger handling a check out counter will say as we go, "Have a blessed day."  Our response to receiving the blessing is often, "And, you as well."  But, blessings are not just heard in the secular world, we hear, receive, and give them in our shared sacred experiences as well.  Blessings are surely Biblical.  Within its pages we read blessings and we read about people being blessed.

One of the places we read blessings is in this 20th Psalm.  Read it as one praying it.  Then start inserting a name in each line and a new powerful way of praying blessings over someone comes to life.  As this is done we might hear ourselves praying and blessing, "(insert name), may the Lord bless you in the day of trouble, (insert name) may the name of the God of Jacob protect you..."  There are more ways to pray than we will ever know.  Who knows?  Praying blessing prayers over someone in need may be needed even as much as our prayers of intercession.

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