Monday, November 1, 2010

How can I bless the Lord?

I thought blessing was to be done by God upon us.

Barak is the Hebrew word for bless, what God does for man, and is used about 330 times in the Bible. It implies that God is conferring or granting the power of advantage on someone. It is used by a superior bestowing his favor on a lesser. Blessing denotes prosperity in every way, certainly not limited to material substance.

When used by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, the Amplified Bible expands it: “Blessed—happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous [that is, with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions]; [that is, possessing the happiness produced by experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace].

I understand the concept when God is the one doing the blessing. But bless is also used by man toward God, as in Psalm 103. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” How can I bless the blessed who already has everything? Used in this way it is an expression of praise mingled with Thanksgiving, of extolling, celebrating, lauding, reverencing, venerating, honoring, lifting up, magnifying, glorifying, as in Neh. 9:5. In repeated passages in Revelation it is used as the declaration of the angels, the elders, the living creatures as in 7:12, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

This is so exciting! Praise and thanksgiving and worship and blessing are all activities that I can carry over from earth right into the presence of God! I can experience them here, genuinely rehearse them, and I’ll be all practiced up for heaven.

I bless God whenever I come into His presence in prayer. I give Him pleasure each time we meet. I can be sure His face is shining upon me, that He will be gracious to me when I worship Him in spirit and in truth, when I praise Him, when I lift Him up, and glorify Him. This is such a vital part of prayer. If I come into His presence only with a “gimme-gimme” attitude it surely can’t please Him, any more than a demanding child receives favor from a parent whom he regards simply as a bestower of things desired. It is not that I am “buttering up” God so that He’ll give me what I ask. Blessing God, worshiping, praising Him must be the sincere overflow of my heart, loving on Him. Meeting God in prayer is first of all a love tryst. He loves me, I love Him. Plain and simple, that is what prayer is all about.

To assist me with the appropriate words to celebrate God, I went through the book of Revelation and copied verbatim every passage where any occupant of heaven was blessing, praising, worshiping God. What a precious, rich, and authentic Book of Worship I now have whenever I enter into His courts with praise! If I come into His presence in a less than uplifted mood, blessing the Lord is a lifter of my head and heart. God loves it, I know, and inclines His ear, because “He inhabits the praises of His people.”

When I praise and worship God, guess who doesn’t want to be around? The devil, who hates to hear me glorify God. That was his downfall originally—he was the worship leader in heaven, and wanted to deflect the glory away from God to himself. The more I bless God, the more the devil will distance himself!



I should sensitively follow God’s leading who or what to pray for. Sometimes He interrupts my customary prayer agenda and has me pray for someone or something else. Perhaps someone or something I haven’t even thought about.

I shouldn’t box in the Holy Spirit but let Him rise up within me and “pray aright.” He may lead me here and there in my praying. It is so exciting! Some call it “butterfly praying.” Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is our Helper in prayer, “to bring things to our remembrance.” I should let Him help me by directing my praying precisely to His ordained target, causing my prayers to alight, like a butterfly, upon some specific person or need because “[the Spirit] knows the mind of the Father” (Rom. 8:26-28).

The Lord wants to use me as a channel of prayer, to literally pray through me. The Holy Spirit knows precisely what God wants to happen and wants me to be obediently attentive to listen and respond to His leading. His creative ways are endless. The key is my obedience in prayer. It isn’t that I have to be such a super-spiritual person in order to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit, or that it requires some mystical experience or vision. I’m qualified simply because I’m a believer, one of His chosen ones, through whom He wants to administer His will and His blessings to others.

The Holy Spirit wants to “hover over” (Greek: rachaph) move upon, brood over, birth something in someone, to release His power somewhere upon someone or some situation. And I have the privilege of cooperating with Him! Isn’t that awesome? What a wonderful reason to keep coming to the Lord in prayer to be His instrument!

I should retain my attentiveness to the Holy Spirit’s promptings throughout my day, not only during my quiet time. As I keep my mind and heart and thoughts centered upon the Lord, at any time He can impress me to pray for someone or something “out of the blue” [literally!]. I should be bold to step out in prayer to respond and obey His inner voice. I may never know the outcome of my prayer, but that’s OK. I’ve been obedient. With practice and experience I will become more and more sensitive to God’s voice. Jesus said, “My sheep know My voice and they follow Me” (John 10:4)



It is not unusual for those of us in advancing years to be scheduled for a stress test in the hospital including treadmill, heart monitor, EKG, and nuclear imaging. I’ve had that experience several times. The point of such medical procedures is to see if one’s heart gives the right response with a steady, regular heartbeat when stretched to the limit. The tests are not comfortable and push us beyond what we thought we could endure. Sometimes it is discovered that there is something blocking normal channels of the heart.

Stress and pressure in our lives is usually built up over time, although the onset of trouble may seem sudden. Blood pressure tends to increase gradually. As we age, there are different kinds of pressures—interior and exterior, self-imposed or circumstantial—which affect our well-being. Our hearts and circulatory system become sluggish, and often an irregular heartbeat develops, as in my case. Sometimes the condition is benign, sometimes more serious and medication is required. As time goes on, eventually a pacemaker may be implanted to assist normal function.

There are spiritual parallels. The Lord allows situations to test us on the treadmill of life to see if our spiritual hearts respond correctly under pressure. Some things may be blocking our normal responses to His voice and hindering the completion with joy of the course in life that God has appointed for us. Cares of this world, prolonged illness, relationship pressures, and multiple sufferings beset us. Such conditions may result in a breakdown in physical health as well as spiritual health. We notice fatigue in both areas; we can’t keep up the pace of life as we age. Our energy is depleted, particularly through our increasing limitations. Second Corinthians 4:16-18 notifies us, in case we are in doubt, that “our outer person is decaying [wasting away]” because we all are “earthen vessels made of clay.” We feel broken, run down, tired, used up, and physically and spiritually listless.

Just as we are given medication to restore physical normalcy, most of us whose pace is irregular need some assistance to regain the normal, regular function of our spiritual hearts. It is essential for our inner person, our spiritual infrastructure, to be renewed day by day. This refreshing comes from the Spirit of God as we seek God’s presence daily, from the Sacraments and the Mass, and from the Word of God all of which nourish our souls.

GOD, The Divine Pacemaker, is always available to mend our spiritual hearts and restore His pace for our final days. As we focus on Him, looking unto Him as the “Author and FINISHER” of our faith, and Finisher of our life course, He infuses sufficient strength for those Last Miles of our earthly journey. As the old hymn goes, “He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater....” The assistance may also come through friends who pray and care for and encourage us, cheer us on, and bear us up when we are flying low. Thank God for The Body of Christ, the Household of Faith!