A Birthday Blessing (not just for birthdays)

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My middle child, eldest boy turned 12 today. From being blue and not breathing at birth, to being a tall, healthy, loving and heart-full boy, my heart is full to overflowing that God gifted me with Daniel for a son.

Caitlins, South Island of New Zealand. (On the way to Purakaunui Falls)

Every birthday our children receive a birthday blessing. It is the same every year. Adrian says a special prayer, lays hands on our child’s head and repeats the following scripture.

Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

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.”’

In the car today (while getting Daniel’s favourite takeaways for tea), I had some lovely mummy to Daniel chats. For anyone who knows Daniel, given half the chance he will chat..and chat! It was lovely. He talked about the blessing prayer he would get before bed and mentioned that when he next takes worship at school for his class, he would like to take it on the birthday blessing. Of course I encouraged him that that would be a fantastic idea. It speaks to me that this blessing is dear to his heart.

It got me thinking about this birthday blessing – known as Aaron’s blessing. The Lord instructed Moses to have Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites, and this was the blessing. In my head I have been breaking it down, piece by piece and dwelling on the meaning. This is a beautiful blessing to bestow on anybody, and we should be praying it regularly. This is a beautiful blessing of security grace and peace.

“The Lord bless you…” The Lord give favour and delight to you. The Lord’s favour was for those who was in a covenant relationship with God. As Jesus has replaced the need for the Old Testament covenant (He has brought a new covenant, a new promise), we are all heirs, sons and daughters of God through Jesus, and therefore eligible for God’s favour, delight and blessing.

“…and keep you…” The Lord protect, keep safe, preserve us in His love and promises. Through Jesus, we are assured safety and protection from the devil, from all evil. Jesus is our tower (Proverbs 18:10) and rock and our refuge (Psalm 18:2), He will keep us under his wings (Psalm 91:4). He will not only protect us physically but more importantly, spiritually.

“The Lord make His face to shine upon you…” There are 2 elements here – the Lord turning his face to us, and the second is that fact that He is shining on us. When the Lord turns His face to us, he is accepting, loving, all encompassing. He is favouring, and wanting to bless. When He shines on us, we become the reflection of God’s light. We then can’t help but shine out to others. Jesus said ‘I am the Light of the World’ (John 8:12). When that light shines on us, we become light bearers. We are only able to shine to others if we have had the Light shine upon us. So in a sense this ‘shining upon us’ is a blessing, an act of filling up, gifting, and equipping so that we can shine in a dark world. This part of the blessing is partly a prayer that God will accept us, turn to us, and then as a result shine His Holy Spirit on us to encourage, bless and equip us.

“…and be gracious to you…” Oh what a wonderful thing to pray – the prayer that God will extend His Grace to someone else. Grace is unmerited favour or benefit, it is the story of Jesus taking our death so we could have His life. Praying ‘grace’ on someone else is a selfless act. It is saying ‘despite your shortcomings, I pray that God will fill up your areas of lacking, and take your sin and replace it with His perfection’. Powerful!

“…the Lord turn His face toward you, and give you peace.” Again we have the prayer asking for God to turn His face towards us. It is a prayer of seeking mercy, and in that place of finding mercy, we then find peace. Praying peace on someone is powerful in this world of anxiety and stress. Praying peace, prays for calmness and a sense that everything will work for the good, for those who trust Jesus (Romans 8:28). In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, this blessing asks for God’s peace, which is unexplainable. Proverbs 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It is interesting that praying for peace, is also a prayer for guarding the heart. It guards the heart from worry and anxiety that eats away at ones soul. It guards the heart from pessimism, woe and despair.

I pray this prayer for you today, that the Lord will give you mercy, security, protection, grace and peace. And moreso – that He would turn His merciful and gracious face towards us every day, and shine his goodness and love into us, so we can sprinkle it in our hurting world.

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