How often do you speak blessings over your children? Is this really a big deal in the Bible? Or is it less important compared to other acts of faithful living?
There’s a section in the Bible sometimes referred to as the “Faith Hall of Fame.” This passage, found in Hebrews 11, is a roll call of patriarchs and saints lauded for valiant faith, heroic actions, and perseverance through extreme trials. There are five prominent patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. Two of them are praised for one very simple action… blessing their children!
That’s it. It’s what put these famous patriarchs onto the same list that includes Abraham (who obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going), Joseph (who endured years of persecution), and Moses (who received the Ten Commandments & performed incredible signs and wonders).
In Hebrews 11, God includes proclaiming a blessing on our children with all the other amazing acts of faith. So it must be pretty important to Him.
To begin this New Year, we encourage you to bless each of your children individually and personally! Here are some practical ideas to jump-start this for you.
Speak or write affirmation blessings for children
Consider how your child has grown in the last year, even if the growth is in assertiveness, independence, or other ways that may have made parenting more challenging for you. Then, during a special time together, tell your child about what you’ve noticed. Or, better yet, write it in a keepsake letter and read it to them.
- You chose joy when things were really tough.
- You handled a hard relationship with grace.
- You showed strong ideals and worked hard to live by them.
- You created a good balance of school, friends, and spiritual growth.
- You are learning to share with others, even when the things are really important to you.
Here are some questions to help you formulate your thoughts:
- What have been some difficult challenges my child has had this year? How have they gotten through them?
- What Biblical character trait(s) did my child develop, and what Biblical references are attached to those traits? For example: When did my child demonstrate sincere faith through trials, kindness, diligence, helpfulness, etc.?
- What has my child worked hard at or shown leadership in?
- What was my child passionate about? What made them excited? Even if it’s not my favorite activity, what was an element of it that God used to bless others?
Whether your child is a toddler, a young adult, or anywhere in between, this blessing can be something that will be a treasure to all of you as the years go by. In one family, an older child even asked for an email copy so he could print it on nice paper and frame it. You may enjoy blessing your kids so much that you’ll want to make it an annual tradition as you call out their character, God-given gifts, and faith!
This year, create a daily rhythm of blessing your child
If it feels like too much of a stretch to write out a detailed blessing for each child, consider the practice of brief blessings for your child at key transitions during the day. Just a short prayer with your hand on their head or shoulder can be just what your child needs to feel secure in your love and God’s love.
- Heading off to school: Routinely sending kids off to school with a sense of God’s love and purpose for them helps them start their day with peace and connection. It might sound like, “Lord, I bless Elise with Your love and purposes today. May she sense Your presence and Your delight over her today. Help her to notice someone who needs her encouragement. Bless her learning and her laughter with friends as You go through the day with her!”
- At the table: You can pray short scripture-based blessings around the breakfast or dinner table. Just read a line or two from a Psalm or share a phrase from a section of scripture you’ve read that day, and then pray a blessing over all of you. After reading Psalm 92:1-2, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord… to declare your steadfast love in the morning,” you could pray, “Thank You, Lord, for Your steadfast love. Your love is like a rock that can never be moved! Bless us with Your steadfast love today. Help us to know and share Your love today!”
- At bedtime: Singing is a powerful, memorable way to bless your children and a great tradition at bedtime! (Music tenaciously stays alive in our brains, even if other memories are lost, and it is remarkably calming to children.)
Here is a delightful, simple song from Numbers 6:24-26. Then, you can add your own personal blessings at the end. You could put your hand on your child or maybe smile and point toward them as you sing and invite them to bless you back as you sing together.
Our pastor shared how he had regular bedtime prayers for his kids, based on Numbers 6:24-26. For years, as a nightly tradition, he would gently place his hand on their foreheads and pray this blessing. Even as young adults, when they would spend the night at their family home, they would sometimes ask him to revisit this tradition by praying this blessing over them.
Spontaneously speak blessings over your child
Keep it relevant, warm, and integrated into the moment. Brief is key. Short and sweet for these spontaneous moments. Spontaneous prayers work great to reinforce our gratitude at the moment for what we see God doing around and in us, as well as to ask in the moment for our “daily bread,” whether it’s material or spiritual. Quick “routine” prayers (meals, bedtime, when you’re buckled into the car and pulling out of the driveway) are helpful ways to recenter our lives around God and his word as we go about the day.
- Say simple blessings based on Bible verses or concepts. If you’re listening to a song that’s a Bible verse with an instrumental pause, you can say a brief prayer of blessing using those words you were just singing. For example, during a song based on the verse “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God…” you can say a quick prayer like, “Bless us with more of your love today, Father!”
- Add a blessing when you affirm your child. “Father, thank you for the generosity Levi is showing right now! Continue to bless him with a generous heart all of his life so he can freely pass Your blessings on to others.”
- Express gratitude for your child. Just like kids love to overhear you speaking well of them in front of others, it’s nourishing for their hearts to hear you thank God for who they are. Overhearing your sincere conversation with God about their true identity is powerful. “Thank you for the gift of Lydia in our family! Thank you for creating Lydia with an eye for beauty. Thank you for her desire for peace and for the ways that she makes peace with her brothers. Bless her as she grows in understanding Your beauty and Your peace.
Allow praying over your kids to be an authentic reflection of your gratitude and their growth, not an attempt to manipulate their behavior. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your prayers with words that are both honest and honoring.
*We’d like to thank Connected Families Certified Parent Coach, Katie Johnson, for some of her great insight and ideas mentioned above.
What does speaking blessings over your child look like in daily life?
We want to close with a poignant, authentic story from our Executive Director, Anna Braasch, who reflects on a day some years ago:
My kids (8 and 10) got on the bus at 8:40 am. I knew I’d be late for my 9:00 meeting that day if I stayed around for the last 10-minute rush, and everyone would leave the house frazzled. They knew how to close up and get to the bus on time, so I called a quick “bye, love you” on my way out the door. At 8:30 sharp, I was parked in the driveway, queueing up a podcast on my phone. Victory! I was right on schedule. Until…
…my son came running out of the house, yelling, “Mom, wait! Almaz needs you!” Ufff… My agenda was disrupted again. I unbuckled my seatbelt and walked back to the house. “This better be good, I thought.” And it was. I heard my daughter say, “Mom, you forgot to give us our blessings!”
Some things are worth being a few minutes late for.
What had started a few years earlier as my awkward attempts to bless my children as they left for school each day had turned into a beautiful (still sometimes awkward) morning tradition. I would hold their hands, look into their eyes, and say the well-known yet powerful verses from Numbers 6:24-26,
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
I loved the idea of giving a morning blessing, and rather than be paralyzed by indecision on what to say, I just went with this familiar passage. I was far less concerned about the words than the feeling I wanted my kids to have when they left the house each day.
Over time, I wrote my own blessings for each of them based on the meanings of their first and middle names. The blessings were beautiful on paper, but I often stumbled over the words when I read them. The kids didn’t seem to mind.
Sometimes, I’d see a blessing, print it, and read it to them.
Sometimes, I’d have the three of us hold hands and say a blessing to the person on our right or on our left. This was always somewhere between awkward, hilarious, and incredibly sweet.
A few times, I asked the kids to bless me. And then I’d have to go check my mascara.
Norman Rockwell, right? Oh, so very wrong. There were days when my coffee breath compelled the kids to dramatically hide their faces. There were often eye rolls. And an occasional, “This is stupid.” And sometimes, when we had a really rough morning, “There is NO WAY you are blessing me!”
But I did. And they survived. And then, when I was rushed and forgot or chose to skip a day, they reminded me.
My goal? To build into them a sense of who they are in Christ and where they get their true identity. So then, when they were bombarded all day long by messages of materialism, inferiority, or whatever else the world was saying, there was a message of truth planted daily in each of their hearts.
This is a great example of walking by faith in the holy and important calling of blessing your children. Expect it to be messy and awkward. But also expect Jesus to be right in the middle of it with you because of how much He loves you and your children!
Even if you didn’t receive blessings from your own parents, you can rest in knowing that God proclaims blessing over you with rejoicing! Many parents experience God’s blessing more deeply for themselves as they bless their own children – so open your heart to receive whatever blessing you are proclaiming over your children. As you bestow blessing and encouragement on your children, may you be more encouraged to lead your family with grace in 2024!
(To learn more about the importance and power of blessing your children, we highly recommend reading the book The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley.)