The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
Numbers 6: 24-26
Prayer includes actively receiving words and deeds of blessing. Strangely enough this is something we sometimes resist. When people thank us for something we did or said that touched their lives in some way we may dismiss the blessing. Or someone might offer affirmations of our character, of our courage or perseverance. And again, we may reject this gift of blessing. Or someone might speak hopefully to us about our future, of things that God may do through us and for us. And we may push away this gift of hope regarding our personal future. Or someone might offer to help us in some way when we are in need, and we may feel hesitant to receive their kindness as a blessing.
Blessings are words and deeds that affirm our value as a person. Blessings are celebrations of who we are. Blessings can also be gifts of envisioning the future as a place where God meets us and gives us peace and grace.
We are meant to receive blessings from each other. It is important for us to learn to do this. But many of us are blocked from doing so because of the shame we have experienced. We may see ourselves as unworthy, as someone who doesn’t measure up, as failures.
There are three practices that can help us receive blessings from others. First, we can look people in the eyes when they affirm us or thank us or extend a kindness to us. Secondly, we can begin to listen carefully to what people are saying when they speak words of blessing. And thirdly, we can respond by saying “Thank you,” as if we were receiving a very thoughtful gift from this person. Because the truth is that when someone blesses us in word or deed they are giving us a significant gift.
If we see the act of receiving blessings as a form of prayer it might help us be more intentional about opening our hearts to these gifts. God blesses us directly in God’s own words and actions of affirmation. But God also blesses us through the words and deeds of others. God sends us blessings through others to help us see ourselves through God’s eyes of love and to help us to see the future as a place where God will be with us, helping us, guiding us and filling us with peace.
Teach me to receive words and deeds of blessing.
Teach me to see myself and my future through these blessings.
Replace my shame and self condemnation
with a growing awareness that
I am your beloved child.
Replace my fear and despair
with a vision of you providing for me.
Give me the grace and humility
to receive words and deeds of blessing
May my receiving from others in this way
be my prayer.
Sit quietly, take a few deep breaths and ask God to bring to your mind the smiles of people who care about you, the delight in people’s eyes when they have greeted you, the words and deeds of affirmation that people have offered you. Ask God to give you the grace to receive these blessings.
Practice actively receiving words and deeds of affirmation and appreciation as gifts meant to heal and bless you.