When we speak blessing over people, communities and places, we are agreeing with God for his kingdom to come there. It’s different from praying, and can often be the key to unlocking salvation, healing and the miraculous, says Roy Godwin
Over the last few years, I have had the privilege of teaching and demonstrating the ministry of spoken blessing to hundreds of leaders and thousands of people worldwide.
On one occasion, I was teaching an Anglican congregation in the mountainous area of North Wales. Having looked at some scriptures together, I invited a congregation member forward so I could demonstrate a spoken blessing. I slowly turned my back to her while praying aloud, asking God to bless her. She thanked me. I asked the people whether they thought I had blessed her. “Yes,” they said. No, I explained, I have prayed to the Father for his blessing to come.
Then I looked her in the eye and spoke a blessing directly to her: “I bless you in Jesus’ name, that his favour might rest upon you.” She looked overwhelmed. When lunchtime came, she explained that her long-term, constant back pain completely disappeared after receiving the blessing. I hadn’t known of or mentioned anything to do with pain. This was God stepping in and working a miracle after I spoke the blessing.
There from the start
The Bible is full of examples of spoken blessing. They occur some 80 times in the book of Genesis alone.
In the Old Testament, when a blessing is directed towards people, places or land, the key word to be considered is the shalom – or peace – of God. This is the promised rule of God being exercised over us, wrapped up in steadfast love. It speaks of rest, grace, mercy and the promised year of jubilee, which is a central motif for the kingdom of God.
The equivalent word in the New Testament is ‘peace’, as used in a greeting or blessing. The rabbis had a saying: “Great is peace, for all other blessings are comprehended in it.” To wish peace to a family, in the name and by the authority of Christ, is, in effect, a positive promise on the Lord’s side of all the good implied in the wish.
Here’s a simple definition of biblical blessing: a multiplication of divine favour; prosperity (fruitfulness) in every aspect of life, particularly in the quality of relationships; the enjoyment of victory over (spiritual) enemies. Look again at Deuteronomy 7:12-21 for an explanation of what that looks like. “He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers” (v13). I, for one, am open to every crumb of such love and blessing being at work in my own life!
It all seems hidden in plain sight – and I often hear as much from leaders who say they cannot believe they have missed it. In the beginning, God blessed. Then men practised blessing in their homes and families. Later, the ceremonial priesthood was established under Aaron. A spoken blessing was particularly directed to people, families, communities, nations and spiritually contaminated or sick land. King David practised blessing (look at Psalm 20 for an example). Jesus spoke blessings over children (Mark 10:13) and when he sent out the 72, they learned that when they went to a community, they should start by blessing a home (Luke 10:5). The proclamation of the kingdom was proclaimed after the blessing, often “with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2, ESV). That pattern for outreach has never been rescinded.
Noticeably, the last thing that Jesus did prior to the ascension was speak blessing over the disciples (Luke 24:50). Perhaps the second Adam was repeating the words of God’s original blessing to the first Adam.
Paul’s letters to the early Church are full of blessing, particularly the beginnings and endings. This continued as the Church grew. In The Life and Miracles of St Cuthbert, Bede speaks of St Cuthbert being approached by some people who had carried a dying young man a long way to meet him. Cuthbert saw that the man was close to death. He stepped away and prayed. Then, after a short wait, he turned and blessed the dying man in Jesus’ name. Instantly he jumped up, healed. A little while later, he set off walking home with those who had been carrying him.
Preparing the way
Having studied The Blessings Course (roygodwin.org/the-blessings-course), our seven-part video-based programme which has helped equip Christians and churches around the world, an Australian missions’ leader decided to start walking in an area where a new estate of low-cost housing was to be erected. As he walked, he blessed each plot in the name of Jesus. Soon, he was joined by a friend. As houses were built and the first people moved in, the guys paused, prayed and blessed the inhabitants. They met some of them as they walked and were asked what they were doing. “Blessing your home,” they said. “May we bless you?” People said yes. When they were blessed, many knew something powerful had happened to them and wanted to know more.
Everything changes when we have been in God’s presence
Small groups started in their homes to look at The Blessings Course, leading to responses and new followers of Jesus emerging. Then the leaders went further, setting up free coffee and biscuits in the park on Saturdays while people went door-knocking. “Come to the park; there’s free coffee and biscuits for everyone. Meet your neighbours. There’s also a free blessing for anyone who would like to be blessed.” When blessed, some of them said: “Wow! What was that?” They, too, experienced something that opened them up. Appointments were made for coffee, and an invitation was given to do The Blessings Course. A network of new home churches started, based on blessing first, sharing the kingdom second (sometimes accompanied by healing). Blessing opens the way into hearts and communities for the King of glory, Jesus Christ, to come in.
If we are to engage in any worthwhile ministry, we must first understand God’s purpose and lay an appropriate foundation of prayer. It isn’t necessarily about how long we spend in prayer but a question of whether we are praying right. When Jesus said to “pray like this” (Matthew 6:9, NLT), he was teaching his followers to agree with God’s purpose, pray for it and invoke the breaking in of the rule of God’s kingdom, wherever on earth they were.
Agreeing with God in prayer should lead to heaven invading earth and transforming it. Fundamentally, we are asking for God to break in, overpowering strongholds and liberating captives. Praying “your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) involves a direct confrontation between God and the powers of the world, the flesh and the devil, with all their wicked agendas. It’s about a revelation of Jesus as Lord and saviour coming upon people, relationships and communities. This leads to the kingdom fruit of liberation; new seekers and followers of Jesus; transformed lives, marriages and communities. Addictions broken. Hopelessness and futility banished. Spiritually contaminated land healed. The broken restored, the kingdom proclaimed and, often, the sick healed.
My secretary spoke a blessing over a visitor, not knowing who he was. “I bless you in the name of Jesus, that you might come to know everything that is necessary for you to have the best life possible.” The visitor had accepted the offer of a blessing very reluctantly, but the moment he was blessed, he felt as though lightning hit him and split him open. He intuitively understood what Jesus’ death on the cross meant for him personally. He and his wife went to a church that following Sunday and both committed their lives to Jesus soon afterwards. He happens to be a national sporting hero and TV commentator here in Wales. The impact of Emyr Lewis’ conversion has been remarkable, and it has sometimes seemed as though the media cannot broadcast it often enough. I know his story because I have heard him testify on TV and radio numerous times.
Blessing opens the way into hearts and communities for the King of glory, Jesus Christ, to come in
I was recording a video series across three days in the Arctic north, and the schedule was tight. Several hundred people had travelled considerable distances through the snow and ice to attend. As I moved towards the auditorium for the next session, I was interrupted by a woman who asked to speak with me. She insisted that it was important, even though the organiser was beckoning me in urgently. “What is it?” I asked, rather irritated. “Tell them it works here,” she said. “What does?” I asked. “Everything you teach about spoken blessing.” “How do you know?” I pressed. “Because since my husband and I started doing it a few months ago, unbelievable things are happening in our community. Jesus is breaking in everywhere!”
A priestly ministry
One of the key pillars of the Reformation was the affirmation that every believer is a priest. The Old Testament explains three key functions of a priest: to carry the presence of God, stand in his presence and minister to him, and to speak blessings in his name (Deuteronomy 10:8). We have tended to concentrate on the first two and neglected the latter. The modern Catholic catechism states that it is the duty of every baptised person to be a blessing and to speak blessings. I believe that Protestants need to wake up and catch up. The ministry of spoken blessing is a golden key that has been missing but is now being restored.
When worship goes viral
The UK Blessing, which saw more than 65 churches come together to pronounce the priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) over the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic, has now been viewed more than 5 million times on YouTube.
The project was organised by the Birmingham-based church leader Tim Hughes in early 2020, and featured prominent worship leaders such as Lou Fellingham, Martin Smith and Premier Gospel’s Muyiwa.
The song was originally performed by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes and Elevation Worship.
By pronouncing a blessing over listeners, rather than singing directly to God, the song bucked lyrical trends in worship music.
The video finished with the message: “Our buildings may be closed but the Church is very much alive!”
The speaking of blessing is more than just saying nice or appropriate words. It is a ministry that depends on us first knowing the presence of God. We see this illustrated in Leviticus 9:22 onwards: “Aaron lifted his hands towards the people and blessed them”, using the words that are so familiar to us from Numbers 6:24-26, commencing with: “The Lord bless you and keep you.” When he finished, he clambered down from the high altar.
The ministry of spoken blessing is a golden key that has been missing but is now being restored
Moses grabbed him and took him straight into the tent of meeting (v23). I can imagine the people looking at each other and saying: “That wasn’t on the programme, was it?” Moses then led Aaron back to the high place and together they spoke – no, ministered – the very same blessing. This time, heaven fell on them all with supernatural activity: “the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people” (v23) and “Fire came out from the presence of the Lord.” The people “shouted for joy and fell face down” (v24).
Rightly handled, that is still what the response to blessing sometimes looks like. It is not just about the right form. Religion settles for forms. The kingdom is about powerful change. Everything changes, and ministry occurs, when we have been in God’s presence.
One day, someone asked a new team member how they would minister healing to broken bones. They replied: “I’ve never done it, but I know what Roy Godwin teaches. He’d say: ‘Broken bones, I bless you in Jesus’ name and command you to be perfectly healed.’” There was much rejoicing when, an hour later, they met again and showed off the questioner’s severely broken thumb, for which she was facing surgery the following day, now perfectly restored. So was her big toe, which had been broken years previously. God is a so-much-more heavenly Father!
Let’s tell God that we agree with his plan that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Pray and invoke the powerful breaking in of his kingdom on earth where you are today. Ask for a revelation of Jesus to fall upon the people through visions, dreams and God-appointments. Then speak blessings over people, communities and land in the name of Jesus.
How to bless
Firstly, check that you are aligned in your spirit with God’s desire to love and bless. Intercede for the breaking in of his powerful kingdom rule over your community and the people you will meet today. Pray for a revelation of Jesus to fall upon unbelievers with dreams, visions and godly encounters. Ask that believers might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then, eyes wide open, speak out aloud your blessing in line with your Father’s passionate purpose.
Here are some examples to help you get going:
Over your community
I speak blessings over you in the name of Jesus. I agree with God’s desire to bless you, and I bless you in his name.
I bless your hearts and minds, that they may be open to God. I bless you, that you might be open to receive revelation of Jesus’ love, mercy and grace.
I bless you in Jesus’ name, that every power that has deceived you or held you captive may be broken over you. Hopelessness and addiction broken.
I bless your family relationships, that they may be clean, gentle, loving and forgiving.
I bless you that you might prosper and find favour.
And I bless every business that is morally clean in Jesus’ name, that you may prosper and become a means of blessing for others.
Over your church
I bless you in Jesus’ name that every good thing the Father has for you might be fully released and that Jesus might be exalted among you.
I bless you that his high calling for you might be manifested in love.
I bless every hurting or wounded soul in Jesus’ name, that the comforter might give you grace upon grace.
I bless you, that gentleness, peace and joy might flood every heart and every relationship.
For a believer
I bless you in Jesus’ name, that the peace of God may reign in your heart and that joy might arise.
For an unbeliever
I bless you in Jesus’ name, that you might find everything you need to know in order to live your best life.