One morning recently, I was praying for blessings for my family and it dawned on me that, in essence, I am praying that they will obey God’s instructions. When Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray, there was no mention in the Lord’s prayer about blessings. As taught by Jesus, we are to pray: to ascribe to God His rightful position and to give Him the reverence He deserves and which is His; His will be done on earth; for daily bread; forgiveness (if we have forgiven others); deliverance from evil; not to be led into hard testings; to declare the kingdom, the power and the glory as belonging to God for eternity.
Blessings are not something you pray for. You determine God’s blessings on your life based on decisions you make. God has laid out in His Word how we access blessings. It’s not that we are earning blessing but rather it’s God’s law of cause and effect, for example, the law of sowing and reaping. God says, if you do certain things blessings will be a natural outcome and if you do other things you will bring curses upon yourself (Deut. 28). For every promise there is a premise. There are things we look to God for that are actually within our own control. We ascribe responsibility to God for things over which we are responsible (response – able). He has given us the ability to respond in the way that will determine our outcomes. Yes, there are situations, people, spiritual forces, natural elements (e.g. the weather) over which we have no control and may rob us of material things and even our loved ones. But these things cannot rob us of our blessing. Because God has made it quite clear in His Word that for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose He causes all things to work for our good.
Being blessed is more than having all the things the world equates to being successful. If we see our job as our blessing then, of course, if we lose our job we will feel we have lost our blessing. We need to have the mindset of God to have a true understanding of what it means to be blessed. Our ultimate blessing is to spend eternity with the Lord. What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose His own soul? (Matt. 16:26; Mk. 8:36; Lk. 9:25).
Each one of us determines the degree to which we are blessed. Another word for blessed is happy. It’s more than just the emotion of happiness. It’s a state of being. It’s your position in relation to God. Yes, God is sovereign and He can choose to bless us even when we don’t deserve it. But is this really true? God can choose to bless us more than we deserve but not if we don’t deserve it. The Bible says God is no respecter of persons. This means that there are some laws that are immutable. God will not go against His own Word. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that He has exalted His Word above His name (Ps. 138:2b). So, God cannot act in opposition to what He has said in His Word. God can desire to bless us but we can tie God’s hands because of our own choices. We have control over whether we are blessed or not. We need to read God’s Word to know what will cause us to be blessed.
God’s Word is full of conditionalities, the if………….thens. If you do this then this will happen. As a pharmacist, I call them prescriptions. Our choices have consequences. Many times we make choices and then don’t want to bear the consequences. We turn around and blame God, our friends, our family, and even the government or our church for our state when we are the one who has not followed the prescriptions laid down by God and expect to be blessed. Look at Psalm 1. What causes a man to be blessed? Not looking to the ungodly for wisdom or counsel, not joining forces with sinners, not being full of pride, delighting yourself in God’s law, meditating in His law day and night. What is the result? You will be blessed. What does being blessed look like? Fruitfulness, the work of your hands being prospered, God knowing your ways, health and strength. Why? Because you obeyed the prescription. There is a way that seems right to a man but the end result is destruction (Prov. 14:12, 16:25). Only God’s way will give us the blessing we are after. There is no short cut.
Another insightful Scripture with regards to blessing is Matthew 5, which we commonly refer to as the beatitudes. This actually tells us what God considers to be blessings.
- The kingdom of heaven – righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (mentioned twice);
- Comfort in the midst of loss;
- Inheriting the earth i.e. dominion, rulership, sonship;
- Fullness of the Spirit;
- Obtaining mercy;
- Seeing God;
- Being called sons of God (led by the Spirit of God – Rom. 8:14; belong to God; walk in the Spirit);
- Great reward in heaven.
What is more important is knowing and activating the “be” attitudes that result in these blessings.
- Being poor in spirit – recognizing my need for God; dependency on God; humility; recognizing my own lack; being weak so God can be strong; leaning not to my own understanding but acknowledging God in all my ways so He can direct my paths (Prov. 3:5). Acknowledging I am nothing without God. Everything I am is because of God. Reverence and awe for God; recognizing our lowly state in relation to the greatness of God; surrendering our will to God’s will.
- Having the ability to mourn – not being afraid to love others even though we stand the risk of losing them some day; having compassion; caring enough to mourn; feeling God’s compassion for a dying world.
- Meekness – strength under control; not always having to have the last word; gentleness even when being provoked; not allowing others to push your buttons; self-control.
- Hunger and thirst for righteousness – desire above all things to be in right standing with God; doing what is right in the sight of God; to be holy as God is holy; to obey God’s commandments.
- Merciful – forgiving others even when they don’t deserve it; understanding where others may be emotionally and showing compassion; recognizing how much mercy God has shown to us and being willing to show the same to others.
- Pure in heart – being transparent; non-hypocritical; open and honest; no hidden agendas; sincerity of heart; thinking the best of others; giving others the benefit of the doubt.
- Peacemakers – ministry of reconciliation; mediator; conflict manager; living at peace with others as much as it is in our control so to do.
- Persecuted for righteousness’ sake – willing to stand up for the truth of God’s Word even it means being ostracized and penalized.
So, instead of praying for blessings for yourself and loved ones (which is unproductive anyway) you should pray instead to be submitted to God so that the power of the Holy Spirit will give you the strength to obey God’s commandments for in so doing the blessings will flow naturally.