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Family Blessings

How can we bless each other?

In Jewish tradition the home is the new temple and the dinner table is the new altar. This is the centrepiece of the Sabbath meal, the Passover seder and it is also the place where blessing is imparted. Family blessings are given weekly at the Sabbath meal and at other times. This is a wonderful practice and Christian families could do worse than following this basic model; a day set aside weekly for food, fellowship, prayer, study and blessings. Husbands bless your wives, wives bless your husbands, parents bless your children! Let’s also see children blessing their parents. And, of course, let everyone bless God! Here are some specific Biblical blessings you can use.

To bless your wife, the model is in Proverbs 31:10-31. According to Jewish tradition, Abraham spoke these words over Sarah. It’s a long one, but here’s the first few verses:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:10-12)

For wives to bless their husbands, we have Psalm 112:1-10. Here is the start:

Praise the Lord. Blessed arte those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. (Psalm 112:1-3)

The Biblical Jewish tradition of blessing sons is for the father to lay his hands on his head and recite the Aaronic blessing:

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. (Numbers 6:24-26)

This can be followed by personal blessings in the same manner as Jacob blessed his twelve sons individually (Genesis 49:28). You may also want to add something like this:

“May your mouth speak with wisdom. May your heart meditate with reverence. May your hands do the work that God has given you. May your feet hasten to follow the path that God has laid out for your life”.

Daughters are blessed in the way that Ruth was blessed in Ruth 4:11:

May the Lord make the woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the family of Israel.”

Again this should be followed by personal blessings, expressing your desires for your daughter’s happiness and success. You may also want to add something like this:

“Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter, for you have been kind and generous. The Lord God is your God and His people are your people. May all the people know of certainty that you are a virtuous daughter”.

Then there are blessings for special occasions, for instance at mealtimes. Although most Christians say their blessing (“grace before meal”) before the meal, the Biblical precedent is to pray after you have eaten. This is the Birkath HaMazon, the oldest blessing of all.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

Later in Jewish history it was decided that it was right and proper to give blessings before eating, the blessings over bread and wine.

“Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the Earth.”

“Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.”

The tradition is that we don’t bless the food, but rather the Giver of the food. Food does not need to be blessed because it was created by God and was already proclaimed by God as good. They don’t need to be made holy through blessing, they are already holy! 

This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp

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