Blessings come under the category of sacramentals. A sacramental is a special prayer, action, or object which, through the prayers of the Church, prepares a person to receive grace and to better cooperate with it. For example, we make the sign of the cross using Holy Water when entering a Church: That pious action and the Holy Water itself, which together remind us of our Baptism, awaken us to the presence of God and dispose us to receiving God’s grace. Unlike a sacrament, a sacramental does not itself confer the grace of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, like a sacrament, a sacramental helps the faithful to sanctify each moment of life and to live in the Paschal mystery of our Lord.
Among the sacramentals, blessings would be foremost. In the decree publishing the Book of Blessings, Cardinal Mayer, then prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, wrote, “The celebration of blessings holds a privileged place among all the sacramentals created by the Church for the pastoral benefit of the people of God. As a liturgical action, the celebration leads the faithful to praise God and prepares them for the principal effect of the sacraments. By celebrating a blessing, the faithful can also sanctify various situations and events in their lives.” Blessings are signs to the faithful of the spiritual benefits achieved through the Church’s intercession.
Throughout Sacred Scripture, we find how God issued various blessings: In the Genesis account of creation, God blessed all the living creatures and especially Adam and Eve, telling them to be fertile, to multiply, and to fill the earth and subdue it (cf. Genesis 1:22, 28). After the flood, God blessed Noah and his sons (Genesis 9:1ff). The patriarchs administered blessings, particularly to the eldest son, signifying a bestowing of God’s benevolence, peace, and protection. In a similar vein, the Lord spoke to Moses and commanded the following blessing for all the Israelites: “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Numbers 6:22-27). The people also blessed God, praising His goodness shown through creation, as illustrated in the beautiful hymn of praise in the Book of Daniel (3:52-90). The Preface for Eucharistic Prayer IV captures well this understanding of a blessing: “Father in Heaven…, source of life and goodness, you have created all things, to fill your creatures with every blessing and lead all men to the joyful vision of your light.”
For us Christians, blessings have taken on an even greater meaning through Christ who perfectly revealed to us the goodness and love of God. St. Paul wrote, “Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing.” Jesus blessed those He encountered: the little children (Mark 10:13-16) and the apostles at the ascension (Luke 24:50-53). He blessed objects: the loaves used to feed the 5000 (Mark 6:34ff) and the bread at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-30). Since Christ entrusted His saving ministry to the Church, it has instituted various blessings for people as well as objects to prompt the faithful to implore God’s protection, divine assistance, mercy, faithfulness, and favor.
Who can do a blessing? The Catechism states, “Every baptized person is called to be a ‘blessing,’ and to bless. Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons)” (#1669). Priests are the ordinary ministers of blessings, asking God’s help for those people being blessed or dedicating something to a sacred service; the priest’s blessing is imparted with the weight of the Church and therefore has great value in the eyes of God. The blessing of a layperson upon another, such as a parent blessing a child, is an act of goodwill whereby the person implores God’s aid for the person; the value of this blessing in the eyes of God depends upon the person’s individual sincerity and sanctity.
Blessings are categorized into two types: invocative and constitutive. In an invocative blessing, the minister implores the divine favor of God to grant some spiritual or temporal good without any change of condition, such as when a parent blesses a child. This blessing is also a recognition of God’s goodness in bestowing this “blessing” upon us, such as when we offer a blessing for our food at meal time. In blessing objects or places, a view is also taken toward those who will use the objects or visit the places.
A constitutive blessing, invoked by a bishop, priest, or deacon, signifies the permanent sanctification and dedication of a person or thing for some sacred purpose. Here the person or object takes on a sacred character and would not be returned to non-sacred or profane use. For example, when religious sisters or brothers profess final vows, they are blessed, indicating a permanent change in their lives. Or, when a chalice is blessed, it becomes a sacred vessel dedicated solely to sacred usage.
In all, in bestowing His own blessing, God declares His goodness. We in turn bless God by praising Him, thanking Him for all of His benefits, and offering to Him our service, adoration, and worship. When we invoke God’s blessing, we implore His divine beneficence, trusting that He will respond to our needs.
As believers, we can know in our hearts that God is Sovereign and strong. We can believe that His plans for us are for good and that He has blessing in store as we follow after Him.
Yet often, when life presses and things feel stressed, when problems overwhelm, and hardships come our way, our focus gets blurred. We somehow start to believe that it all depends on”us.” Like maybe we blew it, messed up and got ourselves off the course from “the road to “success.” We spin our wheels trying to find a fast way out of difficulty. We feel like it’s up to us to make things happen. Stirring up action. Trying hard to get one foot into an open door, or wondering why a closed one shut. We start thinking that if we’re not “able enough,” “talented enough,” “brave enough,” that maybe God can’t quite use us.
We forget, that the very God who created this entire universe, who holds the stars in place, and knows the exact number of hairs on our head, also knows our way. That His favor rests on us as we seek after Him first, and He holds the power to cause things to happen in just a moment, that would otherwise take us years to do. He can line up our pathways to cross with others He wants us to meet. He can open doors that leave us surprised at how they open. He can close doors that He knows are not the best for us. He has a plan, in the good, and in every hard thing we face.
And often the greatest blessings come after the greatest times of testing.
Over and over in God’s Word, we see those whose lives He most powerfully used, after they had endured many hardships and trials. Their lives were not defined by the suffering or testing, but by God alone, who moved through the trial and brought greater good, blessing, and favor from it all.
So many more…
Joseph says in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
God paved the way of freedom for Joseph. Though it wasn’t right away, slavery and imprisonment could not keep him contained. For our Lord, in His purposes, had more still in store.
God will not allow any circumstance, or any person, to hold us back from His blessing, favor, and purpose for our lives. We don’t have to worry. Because we belong to Him. And we can trust Him with our days. God is Able, He is more than Able, to turn the toughest, darkest times, around for good. He will not waste our pain, but will use the difficulty of what we walk through for greater good, to bring blessing and freedom to others.
His Presence is with us and we can be assured in whatever we face, His plans for us are good.
Here are 21 Bible Verse Reminders of His Blessing, Favor, and Sovereignty Over Our Lives:
“For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands…” Psalm 90:17
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11
“…but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:5
“…By your favor you make us strong…” Psalm 89:17
“My times are in your hands…” Psalm 31:15
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
“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.” Numbers 6:24-26
“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:11
“And the Lord said…This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:17
“The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
“The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:33
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:45
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6
“These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” Revelation 3:7
A Prayer for Blessing
Thank you for your great love and blessing over our lives. Thank you that your favor has no end, but it lasts for our entire lifetime. Forgive us for sometimes forgetting that you are intimately acquainted with all of our ways, that you know what concerns us, and you cover us as with a shield. We ask that we would walk in your blessing and goodness today. That your face would shine on us. That you would open the right doors for our lives and for our loved ones, that you would close the wrong doors and protect us from those we need to walk away from. Establish the work of our hands and bring to fulfillment all that you have given us to do in these days. We pray that you would make our way purposeful and our footsteps firm out of your goodness and love. Give us a heart of wisdom to hear your voice, and make us strong by your huge favor and grace.
In Jesus’ Name,
We are children of the King. He is Sovereign and He reigns Supreme, giving favor, guidance, and blessings to all those who seek after Him.
Resting there today, hope you are too.
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor’s wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead’s facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at and
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