Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Praying For A Blessing — Myth & Reality

By on September 24, 2010

In the last several decades the idea of “God’s blessing” has been twisted beyond recognition. I’m embarrassed when I see and hear what is currently being imported around the world by religious hucksters who have ”americanized” their concept of the Christian faith. They seem to teach that our faith can be measured by the amount of material “stuff” surrounding our lives. That’s little consolation to the faithful witness who may even now be somewhere imprisoned because of a love for Jesus that far supersedes those charlatans who ask you to give something to them in order to get something from God.

Its time for the record to be set straight regarding the Lord’s blessing. What does it mean to be “blessed” by the Lord? What are the evidences of blessing? How can we enter into a relationship that results in God’s blessing? And why is it important for us to understand the concept of “blessing” at all?

In the following paragraphs, I’d like for you to examine the meaning, myths and methods related to receiving a blessing from God. Matthew’s Gospel (14:13-21) presents an ideal backdrop for your consideration. This is the record of the Lord’s feeding of the five thousand after first blessing the five loaves and two fish that had been brought to Him.

1. The meaning of God’s blessing explained. When Jesus was presented with the five loaves and two fish, Matthew tells us that He looked up to heaven and “blessed” them, before breaking them apart for the disciples to distribute. The literal rendering of the word used here means that he said “good words” over the food presented to Him. Those “good words” would have been the means by which our Lord consecrated the simple offering and asked the Father to make them sufficient for the hour.

The most commonly used word for blessing (“makarios,” as used in the beatitudes) gives us further insight. This is a word sometimes used to describe the island of Cyprus, an island that had upon it all that was needed to sustain life. If you will study the idea of a “blessing” throughout the Scripture, you will discover that a blessing is a sovereign act of God by which He causes something, or someone, to supernaturally produce more than is naturally possible in order for life to be sustained, God’s work to flourish, and for Him to receive glory. That is certainly the case in this passage! And that is what you are asking of God when you praying for a blessing!

2. The myths regarding God’s blessing exposed. Looking carefully at the account, you will discover that God’s blessing is not limited by either the size of the need, the cause of the need, or the resources available. None of these prevented God from showing Himself strong to bless. Years ago I met a man who had been released from the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” a North Vietnamese concentration camp, after having spent seven years in the most cruel environment imaginable. He noted that he had lived there on a diet that would have normally meant certain death. “I asked God to bless what little I was given,” he said, “making it like steak and potatoes to me.” Here was a man whose need was beyond description, and whose resources were a mere pittance of what was needed. Yet God honored his prayers and “blessed” the food.

3. The method for receiving God’s blessing exhibited. So what did Jesus do that resulted in a genuine blessing. 1) Jesus assessed the situation, having the men sit down so the size of the need could be comprehended. This is an important and often overlooked practice. People of effective prayer are usually meticulous in their accounting. This account tells us what was available and what was needed. That way, God receives glory for the penny as well as the dollar. 2) Jesus sought the mind of God, as intimated by the fact that He “looked up to heaven.” Here is where the “word of faith” movement so often goes astray. God commits Himself to doing His will, not merely our wishes. What does God clearly reveal as His will regarding the request? Finding the answer to that enables you to enter into aggressive cooperation with Him. 3) Jesus then pronounced a “blessing,” a clear request in concert with God’s stated plan. 4) Jesus acted in a manner consistent with the revealed will of God. He acted on the basis of what God had shown to be His plan regarding the manner in which the need was to be met.

Manley Beasely was accustomed to saying that “Faith is acting like something is so, when its not so, so it can be so.” But how do you know how to act? You must act in concert with what God has clearly revealed by His Spirit and through His Word to be His plan. As I have often said, the will of God is revealed to the man of God by the Spirit of God through the Word of God.

Once you grasp the principle and abided by it, the door is open for you to

pray for a blessing.

Rejoice evermore!

Tom Elliff

2 Tim 1:12

For more about “Praying for a Blessing” read A Passion for Prayer, by Tom Elliff, available at your local Christian book store, or by order from the bookstore on this website.

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  • djhooten

    Thank you Tom so much for sharing this wonderful “gift of a day with Orville”.  David and I continue to lift you up before your loving Father, that you know His presence daily, know his comfort, strength and joy. One of us will some day be walking the same road as you and we just pray we truly walk it with our Lord Jesus and in His strength!   You are loved and prayed for often.   Janet and David