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Prayer of Blessing vs. Prayer of Petition

Raising a God Fearing Generation, or RGFG, is the group of men I am increasing growing close to as we journey through life together.  Fifteen to twenty men of all ages and backgrounds meeting together weekly to encourage one another to be intentional about our walk with God before our friends and families.  Men that ask the Holy Spirit for strength and courage for real character change from the inside out.  Men that look to Jesus as we journey together to raise up all those around us to fear God and love him deeply.

One of the ways we seek to be a blessing to each other, is to end our meetings by praying a short prayer of blessing over each other.  We call it “The Blessing Huddle.”

02 17 13 group-prayer“The Blessing Huddle” starts by forming a close knit circle with one man stepping into the center.  All the men lay hands on him and the person directly behind him prays a short prayer of blessing.  When done, the man prayed over steps back into the circle and the man directly to his right steps into the center.  Men lay hands on him and the man who just was prayed over, now prays over the man in the middle.  When done, the man in the center steps back into the circle and the whole routine is repeated.  We keep up the routine until we have gone around the entire circle.  If done smoothly, everyone gets blessed in a matter of only a few minutes, at least in theory.

Well about a month ago we had a combined meeting of two mens groups from our church.  Now instead of a “Blessing Huddle” of ten to fifteen men, we had about thirty.  Instead of taking about ten minutes to go around the circle, this time it took about twenty five.  What had normally been a smooth and short ending to our meeting, now had a whole new level of stress added in and I fascinated to ponder as to why.

First I noticed, many guys did not know the names of the men directly to their right.  As a result, most were nervously whispering for names before it was their time to pray.  This initiated the stress level within the group.

Secondly, I noticed guys felt nervous about “what” to pray for.  Again, many were whispering frantically to the man next to them, “How can I pray for you?”  The stress level of the group continued to rise slowly with each prayer of blessing.

Finally, I noticed many seemed to feel a slight pressure to pray something new and creative with each successive blessing.  As a result, those at the start of the circle had it easy.  Those at the end of circle were struggling.  The stress level was now noticeable to everyone as it came to an end.  We all seemed a bit relived when it was finally over.

I’ve never thought that stress should be a part of our “Blessing Huddle”.  It left me wondering as to what went wrong and how to remedy it.  By the following Saturday, the Holy Spirit had opened my eyes to several core problems and the corresponding solutions to fix it.  I was ready and excited to share it with the guys at our next meeting and see what they thought.

The first concern, “What is your name?” was easy to fix.  Simply ask for the person’s name to your right and you are done.  Easy.

The second concern, “What to pray for?” was a little more involved.  From my earliest childhood memories of church, prayer time had always started out with “requests” followed by “prayer time.”  You would never just pray over a person before you first stopped to ask them for their “list”.  Once you knew their “list”, you would then proceed to pray through their “list” on their behalf.  But is that the only type of prayer routine mentioned in the Bible?  I have begun to think not.

I thought back to Genesis 47 when Jacob, at age one hundred and thirty, is presented to Pharaoh.  They have a pleasant and respectful conversation but before Jacob leaves, “he blessed Pharaoh.”  I doubt very seriously, that Jacob first asked Pharaoh for his “request list” before he blessed him.  And if he did not ask for a list, what did he pray for?  The possible answer . . . a Prayer of Blessing and not a Prayer of Petition.

02 13 17 praye lists imageA Prayer of Petition asks the question, “What is your lists of prayer requests?  I will pray through your list on your behalf, before God.”  A Prayer of Blessing says, “No need to tell me your list.  Let’s just ask God to bless you with his presence and your list will be taken care of automatically, whatever it may be.”

A Prayer of Blessing is like the group of men we read about in Luke chapter 5.  These men had a friend who was sick.  Instead of trying to heal him themselves, their whole goal was simply to get him in front of Jesus.  When they arrived, the place was packed and they could not gain access.  Undeterred by the crowd, they carried their friend up onto the roof, made an opening and lowered him on his stretcher down in front of Jesus.  Their plan worked brilliantly, as Jesus healed the man on the spot and everyone walked home feeling great.

Same thing happens with a Prayer of Blessing.  You do not need to know the person’s list.  All you need is a name.  Once you know their name, just lower that person down to Jesus and let the Son of God take care of the rest.

But if you don’t have a “list”, what do you say?  I then went on to talk to the guys about what a Prayer of Blessing looks like.  I gave it the acronym BMW, which stands for “Bless, Make and Walk.”  Here is the basic foundation of a Prayer of Blessing.

B stands for “Bless”.  “Please God, BLESS my friend . . . Bob.”

M stands for “Make”.  “MAKE him more like your son Jesus.”

W stands for “Walk”.  “WALK with him this week and cover him with your Holy Spirit.”

That’s it. It is that simple.  Twenty five words and you have just prayed one the best blessings you can give a person that you have known all your life or a person you may have just met moments before in the checkout line at the store.  What could be better than simply lowering any person you know down through the roof, placing them at the feet of Jesus and asking God to take care of them?  No “list” needed, just a “blessing” and asking for God’ s presence.

I have a feeling that is much of what Jacob said when he “blessed” Pharaoh back in Genesis 47.  No need for Pharaoh’s list.  Just asking God to be with this very important man and give him the needed guidance for each and every day.  Simple and easy, yet powerful.

Finally, I talked about the need to be “creative” with each successive prayer.  Here I gave all the men the permission to say the exact same twenty five words with each prayer of blessing.  Creativity was not needed nor encouraged.  Just a simple twenty five word blessing of “Bless, Make and Walk”.  Insert a different name.  Work your way around the circle.  Easy.

This by far, was the biggest stress reliever within the group.  One man said, “Mike, thank you taking out the need to be creative.  Being creative during prayer time has always been one of my biggest fears.  Without the need to be creative, prayer time and blessings might be fun again.”

02 17 13 group-prayerI was thrilled with this type of feedback.  We quickly went back over the basic structure of the blessing with BMW, “Bless, Make and Walk”.  We formed our tight knit circle, laid hands on the first man.  Within a few short minutes, each man had been blessed with nearly the exact same twenty five word blessing.  Best of all . . . the “Blessing Huddle” was once again, stress free and fun.

1 Peter 3:9 says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Sometimes, God may call us to ask for a person’s list and then in turn, take that list to him in prayer on their behalf.  Sometimes though, no list is needed.  We are just to bless  others with twenty five simple words of “Bless, Make and Walk” and then let God take it from there.  He loves to work in amazing and miraculous ways.  That is just what he does.

I think back to the men who lowered their friend down through the roof to Jesus, when the crowds prevented them from coming in the front door.  The blessing they gave their friend did not involve a list, it simply sought out the presence of a holy God.  In return, they “inherited a blessing” of a healed friend, just like 1 Peter 3:9 promised.  What a story that would be.  To recount the day their friend was healed and the blessing that everyone received in the process.

May God inspire us all to seek to be a blessing to those around us.  People we have known and loved for much of our lives and the people for whom we may only see for moments at a time through life’s journey.  From time to time, we can all use and can all give out a twenty five word blessing of “Bless, Make and Walk”.  All we need is a name, no list needed.

Written by D. Mike Collins

Photo by Organic Student Ministries

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