The FAITH5 – Praying and Blessing

This is the third of three Sunday Messages on the FAITH5, a faith@home spiritual practice promoted by Dr. Rich Melheim and Faith Inkubators.  My preaching text was John 15:9-17.  This Message drew upon Dr. Melheim’s book Holding Your Family Together and was designed to be interactive and practical in nature.  Click to read the first and second parts of this blog series.

Today we’re concluding our three-part Message Series, “5 Habits to Hold Your Home Together”.  Over these three weeks we’re learning about practicing at home a spiritual tool called the FAITH5.  It’s a simple set of faith habits we can use in our homes to take in God’s word and care for each other in Jesus’ name.

The past two Sundays we’ve looked at the first three steps of the FAITH5 – SHARING “Highs” and “Lows”,  READING a Bible passage or a a Bible story, and TALKING about how what we’ve heard applies to our “Highs” and our “Lows”.  Would anyone like to share about their experiences of doing that in their homes? … (time for sharing)

Today I want to look with you at the last two steps in the FAITH5 – PRAYING and BLESSING.  In these steps we bring together what we have shared and talked about in the first three steps and call God into our midst.  In praying we take our joys and hurts to God.  In blessing each other we apply God’s name, God’s grace, God’s peace, God’s power and God’s hope into one another’s life situations.

In our Bible reading for today from John 15:9-17, we hear these words of Jesus: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (John 15:9) Praying and blessing are two big ways of remaining or resting or abiding in the love of Jesus in our daily lives.  In praying daily, we turn to God because we know he loves us, and express our trust in him to help us in loving ways in everyday life.  When we bless others daily, we name God’s love for them that day in a very personal way.  Jesus then goes on to say, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)  Two of the most significant ways we can show love to each other is by praying for them and blessing them.  I can love someone else through all sorts of words and actions without bringing God into it. But when I connect that person’s life to the life of God in prayer and blessing, then my love for them taps into God’s full and perfect and eternal love!  It’s perhaps the most loving thing of all that I can do for them!

Let’s take a little bit of time to focus on those steps one at a time.  Prayer is really just talking to God about what is happening in our homes, our lives, our world.  As an earthly parent, I want to hear what is going in on in the lives of my daughters.   How much more is God concerned and interested with the details of our lives (and he is a much better listener than I am!). If something is on our hearts, then God is ready and available to hear from us.

When we bring each other’s “Highs” and “Lows” before God in prayer, we remind them that they are not alone – that the God of the universe is watching over them, and that we are there for them in his name.  Prayer brings comfort and hope.  Rich Melheim says this:  “Prayer makes God real and tangible.  It makes God’s will real to you and through you.  It gives direction to life.  It brings you closer to the people you pray with and pray for and to the God to whom you pray.  Prayer teaches you how to let go and let God into the situation.  It is love in action.”  Now, God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the ways we might initially want, but he does always answer them.  And when we do take the “highs” and “lows” of our lives to him, we become more conscious of him at work.  Earlier this week  I was part of a group in which we shared “highs” and “lows” and prayed for each other.  Later that week one of the group shared how they had experienced God turning up for them.  Our prayers made him more aware that God can and does provide, and God was pleased to do just that.

A few tips on prayer.  If you are not used to praying aloud in your home or small group, you can ask people to first write down a prayer and then read it aloud.  You might want to discuss prayer points and divide them between your family or small group members beforehand.   You might have people share just a sentence or a phrase at a time.  Prayer doesn’t have to be long or complicated.  It is taking the time to turn to God that’s important. God already knows what’s on our hearts and our minds long before we speak out our prayers to him.

Blessing one another is the last step in the FAITH5.  The Bible is full of examples of people blessing one another.  It is one of the most special gifts a parent can give to a child, a child can give to a parent, a sibling can give to a sibling, that one Christian can give to another.  A personal blessing is made up of three elements:

  1. God’s name,
  2. words spoken in God’s name,
  3. and touch.

As an example, here’s the blessing that is printed on the front of this week’s Bulletin:

May God surround you with his love, and fill your heart with love for others.  Amen.

When we use God’s name we are saying that he is present with us to give and to heal and to help.

The words of a blessing then communicate something we know God wants to bring them or do for them, and we want for them too.  Because blessings draw on God’s Word they are more than just wishful thinking.  Rich Melheim puts it this way: “Words have the power to change realities and usher in new realities. When a blessing from God is spoken in faith and received in faith, it has the power to transform lives and invent a future of hope, power and joy.”   When words from God are spoken, things happen!  His words are power-filled and creative: they “do” what they say.

Touch is the third element of a blessing.  Touch can be a hand on an arm or a shoulder. It can be making the sign of a cross on someone’s palm or their forehead.  Touch makes a blessing very personal and concrete.  It brings God’s name and God’s words right down to earth for someone else in way they can feel and experience.

Let’s recap on the five steps of the FAITH5.

  •  Step 1: Share your highs and lows (high points and low points) of the day with each other.
  • Step 2: Read a Bible verse or a Bible story together.
  • Step 3: Talk about how your Bible verse or Bible reading might apply to your highs and lows.
  • Step 4: Pray for one another’s highs and lows.
  • Step 5: Bless one another.

To help you use the FAITH5 in your homes and friendship circles and small groups, there is going to be a FAITH5 insert in the Bulletin each Sunday.  On the insert there will be printed out the words of a single Bible verse for each day of the week.  I encourage you to try it, and try it again.  If you’re using it in your household, aim to do so every day for a whole month.  Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day now and then – just start over.  If you try it for a whole month and it doesn’t bless your home, let me know … but I’m absolutely sure it will!

To conclude this message, let’s bless each other!  Let’s put this into action.  Find someone else and repeat to them the words I will say.  If each of you is comfortable, place a hand on one another’s arm or shoulder as you say these words after me.  …

May God surround you with his love, and fill your heart with love for others.  Amen.

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