Parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding roles God has given us in this life, and because of this I am always looking for ways to make it more meaningful and effective. I like to ask myself and other parents, “As a parent, what would you say are the top three strategies you use to help your children grow spiritually?”
For me and my wife, our number one strategy has been giving daily blessings to our children throughout their childhood and teen years. I believe that giving our children blessings throughout their childhood may be the most important bonding, nurturing, and soul-strengthening thing we can ever do for them.
The Act of Giving Blessing Originates with God
The Bible is full of passages that reveal God’s intention to show his people favor and to help them flourish. One of the most famous of all blessings recorded in the Bible is found in Numbers 6:24-27. This particular blessing was the official blessing that the Lord commanded Moses to have Aaron and the priests say over the people of Israel:
“…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.”
Slow down and let this soak in. When the spiritual authorities proclaimed this God-commanded blessing over the people of Israel, they were actually placing the all-encompassing name of the Lord of the universe upon them. This is really a big deal. God himself is doing something powerful through those in spiritual authority when they pronounce this blessing over his people.
Therefore, God is also doing something powerful through us when we pronounce and pray blessings over our children and grandchildren. It is simply amazing that God has established us to invite the riches of his goodness on our children by giving them blessings as he has instructed us.
The Beginnings of Blessings
As I look back on those early days as a parent, I had a lot of unspoken fear that intermingled with an overwhelming sense of joy in the approaching arrival of our daughters.
It became apparent that there was so much that I felt unprepared for as a parent and I knew that I was going to have to focus on a few vital actions that would influence the rest of my parenting. I needed to leverage some powerful principles that would have a ripple effect of goodness on my daughters.
In the process of our preparation for parenthood we came across two books that shaped our understanding of the importance of giving blessings to our children. The first book was Gary Smalley and John Trent’s classic book on the subject called The Blessing. This book was foundational in my desire to bless our children whenever they came along.
However, it was Rolf Garborg’s book The Family Blessing that actually sealed the deal concerning this parental provision for my bride and me. In his book, Garborg shares about the biblical practice of giving blessings
to your children.
We began implementing simple acts like placing our hand on their head and asking God to bless them with his goodness in ways that only he could. Thus giving our daughters blessings became a core parenting activity.
So, How Does it Work?
Giving blessings to your children is both simple and profound all at the same time. As we saw from Numbers 6:24-27, the blessing can be spoken over a group by a spiritual authority. Pastors in many churches do this every week at the end of a worship service.
On a personal level when you are blessing an individual child it is an intentional moment of simple prayer and truth being spoken over them as you lift them to the Lord. What you say and how you go about the process of giving your children blessings can vary, but be confident that the benefits for your child in receiving blessings will endure.
Babies and Toddlers
In our family, the blessings we prayed over our daughters had the tendency to take on the flavor of the specific life stage they were in at the time. When our daughters were babies we would sing their blessings to them. Michael Card had a “Lullaby” album that had the words to the Numbers 6:24-26 blessing put to music. This song made it easy to hold them and gently sing these words of blessing over them. Admittedly it was more soothing when my wife sang to them but they still seemed to be comforted when I blessed them in this way.
As they became a little older we would place our hand on their heads and alternate between singing and speaking the blessing over them as they lay in their beds. Gradually, we transitioned to just speaking the blessing over them with our hand resting on their heads.
During the elementary ages of our girls, my wife and I had made a commitment to have a family time of devotions with our girls in a way that suited their age. When they were younger we used a resource from Desiring God for children that had key stories from the Old and New Testaments with a corresponding coloring book. I would read the story and they would color the picture and tell us about the story.
As they got older we shifted to the missionary biographies. My goal was for my daughters to not only be inspired by the lives of these great missionaries, but also to sense that God has his hand on their lives as well. Our family devotions together had a powerful influence on the content of my blessing for my daughters that evening.
I have also found that it’s important to make the blessing personal. It doesn’t take much to do so, but it does make a difference. You can always add more to the ending of the blessing depending on the needs of the child you are blessing at that moment.
We continued the practice of blessing our daughters twice a day as they entered their teenage years; once as they went off to school and another as they went to bed each evening.
An interesting event occurred during our girls’ college years that impacted us deeply. Following a trip to drop one of my daughters off at school, she called out for me to wait as she came up to the car. She looked at me through the open car door window and proceeded to reach in through the window placing her hand on my head and gave me a blessing. The goodness of the family blessing had come full circle in that moment.
This simple parenting act has proved to be more of a blessing to our whole family than I ever imagined. And I hope and pray that these few paragraphs have convinced you to make giving your children or grandchildren blessings a key part of your parenting strategies for nurturing your children spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.