A New Practice of Blessing God

During Advent, we reflected on Mary’s words of exaltation that welled up from her soul.  She blessed God for blessing her.  This is a practice we can do as well.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
Psalm 103:1-2

These verses reveal two things about blessing. First, it is the soul that blesses God. Second, when we bless God, we are not to forget his benefits.

In Jesus day, God’s people practiced reciting their own “Lord’s Prayer” called the Amidah. The benedictions in this prayer recall God’s benefits:

Blessed are you, O Lord, the shield of Abraham.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who revives the dead.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the holy God.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the gracious giver of knowledge.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who delights in repentance.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who is merciful and always ready to forgive.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the redeemer of Israel.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the healer of the sick of his people Israel.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who blesses the years.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who gathers the dispersed of his people Israel.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the King who loves righteousness and justice.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who smashes enemies and humbles the arrogant.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the support and stay of the righteous.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who rebuilds Jerusalem.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who causes salvation to flourish.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who hears prayer.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who restores his divine presence to Zion.
Blessed are you, O Lord, whose Name is the Beneficent One,
and to whom it is fitting to give thanks.
Blessed are you, O Lord, who blesses his people Israel with peace.

It is good for the soul to daily practice blessing God and to be thankful for the benefit of God’s presence. Taking time to write or recite “Blessed are you, O Lord, who … ” prayers, helps us recall that God is God and we are not. Moreover, a time of blessing God revives the soul and encourages us to go and bless others in the Lord’s name.

As 2016 ends, consider a new practice  of praying  “Blessed are you, O Lord, who …” prayers, and let your soul be revived.  Like Mary, may our souls exalt and bless God in 2017.

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