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5 Great Times to Pray the Aaronic Blessing

The Bible’s most well-known and oft-repeated benediction can touch lives throughout the day.

Praying with a child
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A friend of mine told me that he and his wife carry on a family tradition of praying a benediction over their children each night at bedtime. My first thought was, Shoot, I should’ve done that when my kids were growing up. (We shared bedtime prayers together but didn’t pray a meaningful benediction over each of them as part of that routine.) My second thought was, Well, it’s not too late to bless those I care about with a prayer of blessing, is it? And my third thought was, No, it sure isn’t.  

So, I resolved to incorporate the Aaronic Blessing, the Bible’s most well-known and oft-repeated blessing, as often as possible. It’s recorded in Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.

As a worshiper, I’ve sung those words to a number of different melodies. As a pastor, I’ve prayed that blessing in child dedications, funerals and weddings, as well as at the conclusion of worship services. But now, spurred by my friend’s family tradition, I’ve identified five great times to pray those lines:  

1)  At Bedtime 
My wife and I visit our grandchildren as often as possible. They range in age from seven to 14, and we jump at the chance to pray with them as they snuggle into bed. But I plan also to place my hand on their heads and bless them with the Aaronic Blessing before I tiptoe out. 

2)  On Parting
My wife always prayed with our children before they left in the mornings for school and still reminds me to pray before we part. From now on, I’ll include the beautiful blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 in those prayers.

3)  Over a Patient
Though I’m no longer an active pastor, I still have occasion to visit someone in a hospital or a nursing home. Sometimes, they’re not even awake for my visit. But I can always hold their hand or touch their shoulder and pray this benediction over them.

4)  For Strangers
Occasionally I feel prompted to pray for someone I don’t know—whose needs I’m clueless about. But I can pray “The Lord bless you and keep you,” etc., trusting God to bless them in the most appropriate and specific ways.

5)  At Celebrations
The Aaronic Blessing also lends itself to birthday parties, wedding toasts, retirements and “bon voyage” occasions. It can even turn an awkward moment into a sacred space, as celebrants’ hearts and minds are lifted above and out of the mundane into a sweet moment of prayer. 

These are not the only appropriate moments for this blessing, but they are some of the times when I hope to put it to good use. What about you? Do you—or will you—pray these words at opportune times?  

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