Monday, May 23, 2016

Ministry of Blessing

“As for Ishmael, I will bless him also, just as you have asked….” Genesis 17:20a

Did you know that the word bless or blessing occurs 500 times in the Bible? Obviously God, who is worthy of all blessing, loves to bless. It is a sign of grace when we bless others.

Recently Muslim neighbors moved in and we welcomed them by giving them a homemade cake with a card saying, “God bless you.” There are countless creative ways to bless such as this practical demonstration but praying a blessing over them is also another specific life-giving way. Perhaps it is to pray blessing over a newly married couple or on an anniversary. After a baby is born I ask if I may pray a blessing over them and their baby. For others they desire prayer for God to bless their new house. We pray God will bless their business. When their birthdays come around I look for bright beautiful cards to give them which have spiritual words or verses of blessing in them. No Muslim has ever turned down my offer to pray a prayer of blessing over them on their birthday. I pray that God will bless each family member both here and back in their homelands. One day a very angry Muslim man said rude words to me. By God’s strength, I was able to say a blessing out loud over him. It silenced his rage. Rarely will we find a Muslim who doesn’t want to be blessed by God! Indeed, it is a significant underestimated ministry which can bear much fruit.

When I pray blessing over them I include praying a blessing back to God, who is the fountainhead of all blessing. How attractive it sounds to make much of God. At appropriate times I also share with them about difficult people who have done me harm but how I endeavor to bless them by praying for them. This will be new teaching for them; just like Jesus’ teaching was to his disciples. When discipling believers from Muslim background I stress the need to bless those who have hurt us. It is easy to bless those who are kind and good to us but the desire for punishment and revenge is stubborn to root out. Often my believer friends will say they have forgiven the person who hurt them but when I ask if they prayed for God to bless that person, well….that is a different story. When we bless we know that forgiveness is truly happening.

Perhaps you have never prayed a blessing over your Muslim friend. Ask her what the words to bless are in her language and what they mean to her. Sometimes we think that praying for Muslims is only about their big needs or worries. Yes, it involves that for sure. But, we can also just simply bless them in our prayers. It is an act of kindness that communicates deeply. Blessing Muslims often is the key to opening doors for further spiritual interaction. It communicates I’m not against you. Instead of trying to correct doctrinal beliefs first thing let’s start with blessing the Muslim.

Dear heavenly Father, like Abraham had a request, I, too, ask You to bless my Muslim contacts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.