When We Ask God to Bless Us,
What Are We Asking For?
[pullquote1 quotes=”true”] May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!
Psalm 67:1-3 [/pullquote1]
[dropcap1]W[/dropcap1]hat a wonderful request the psalmist makes to God! As we read this, we are all eager to participate, and cheerfully say “Amen.” Of course we all desire for God to show us His grace and bless us! We all have different ways that we would define those blessings, and probably what comes to our minds are mostly tangible ones.
Just think of what makes us exclaim that God has blessed us. Recall the last time you told someone that God has really blessed them. Our thoughts go to something we received, a situation we avoided, the care that someone has had for us. Is it plausible that we too often define blessing and grace as whatever makes our lives easier or more comfortable? When we think of having God’s face shine upon us, our thoughts easily go to situations where God shows us His care and grace by giving us something more than we had expected.
I have heard quite a few worship services end with the pastor pronouncing this passage as a benediction. As the believers listened, I wonder what kind of hopes filled their minds when they left the service.
Did you notice the reason why the author asks God to show His favor to the children of Israel? His desire is that all the nations would know the ways of God, and that His saving power would be made known among all people.
One of the first questions we should ask ourselves is if that concept is important to us. In some ways, as we stop and think, we would all say yes, but does our life really show that kind of desire and goal?
How often does the eternal state of those around us drive us to God and cause us to ask God to do what is necessary through our own lives, in order that men would know His ways and His power? Such thinking could cause our definition of God shining His face upon us and showing His grace and blessing to drastically change.
The center of the desired blessing is no longer merely our comfort or personal gain, but it becomes God’s forgiving and sustaining power to all who will know Him, in the midst of a crooked and sinful world.
When we consider how the writer’s words reveal his thoughts about the salvation of all the nations, how do our own attitudes toward world missions compare? Are we aware of the need around the world? Are we driven to pray for countless people who die and then face their eternal judgment having never heard anyone explain the good news of God’s salvation, the Gospel, to them?
Have we asked God to increase our burden for lost souls? Does our giving and our praying expose a burden for global missions, or does it expose our lack of practical love for the nations? Are you involved in the missions outreach of your local church? Do you know the names of supported missionaries? Do you know what they do? Have you ever encouraged them through a note or an email?
The end goal of the psalmist is that the nations would praise God
Remember the words of the Apostle John in the book of Revelation:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” —Revelation 7:9-12
What an amazing scene! As many from every nation, having spoken different languages, lived in different places, faced different difficulties and trials, are now united before the throne of God. With heightened awareness of His majesty and splendor, they are praising Him, for they know that their salvation was made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ.
Our God is saving today, and reminds us that we should live for His glory, and to attract people to Him. His work in us is purposeful: to prepare us for the day when we will be part of the multitudes in heaven, and to use us to bring His own to Himself.
As His own people, should not be self-centered, but centered upon the needs of others and driven to point others to Christ.
Is it possible that God wants to use your trial to make you more adept, to open opportunities for sharing the gospel with others?
As you ask God to bless you and for His face to shine upon you, I trust that there will be a new understanding that will accompany your prayer.
May God make us more aware of His eternal purposes; may His compassion for the lost increase our own compassion. May our lives, even today, expose a desire to share the good news with the world through what we say, how we pray, and how we encourage the missionaries we know.