To Speak Blessings

Many times, I’ll hear a sermon at church on Sunday, and by Friday I have forgotten the topic. Other times, however, the message won’t leave me, and weeks later I am still pondering its significance in my life.

A few weeks ago, my pastor preached on the events in Genesis 27. Jacob deceives his father, Isaac, into giving him the blessing that was actually reserved for his brother Esau, the firstborn. When Isaac discovers his mistake, he trembles, and Esau cries out like a three-year-old having a temper tantrum, “Bless me-me too, my father!” (Genesis 27:34).

I’ve always found this passage peculiar. Isaac doesn’t actually give anything that exchanges hands with Jacob, and God, knowing everything, knows that Isaac had never intended, in fact, to bless Jacob. Why couldn’t Isaac simply fess up, “My bad, Esau. I thought Jacob was you. Here you go,” and bless him instead?

My pastor provided the answer that has wrestled with me for weeks: The ancient people believed that what they said mattered. When a person asked for God’s blessing, he couldn’t simply undo those words; the words carried meaning and power and were not spoken lightly. And this truth is no different for our generation, either.

Two thoughts continue to race in my mind. First, I’ve continued to think about my pastor’s sermon, the power of a blessing. As a Christian, I believe in God’s supernatural ability to take my words, the blessings I would speak on my children, and make them true. I believe in the power of touch, the power of taking my children by the hand as I speak words of confidence in what they will do and God’s presence in their life. And I believe when they hear these words, something will change inside of them, as well.

Second, I began to think about another lesson that wasn’t in my pastor’s sermon. If my words really matter, if I can speak blessings on my children that God brings to fruition, wouldn’t the opposite hold true? All those careless words, the negative thoughts that enter my mind and leave my mouth, do they hold power as well?

Since becoming a parent, I’ve tried to give extra hugs and kisses to my children, knowing that showing physical affection isn’t the first way that I show my love. I tend to be better at praising my children for their kind hearts, for their good character, for a task successfully completed.

However, after this sermon, I began to listen to my other words. What words am I using when I discipline? In an attempt to correct my children, am I actually heaping curses on their shoulders? Are my children inwardly crying out, “Bless me-me too, Mommy!” when my words sear their soft skin? Not only do my praises matter, but so do my criticisms.

I want my children to remember a mother who blessed them with her actions and her words. I want my children to remember my words for their ability to inspire creativity, to bring joy, to cause laughter. And I want to remember how much my children matter to me so I will choose wisely those words I want to matter to them.

Originally published at on November 8, 2010.