A blessing for all

Praying can make a difference for others

By The Revd Canon Andrew Wright

I write as the New Year has just turned. By the time you read this we will  well into 2024. The dawn of a new year is a time when we often pray or wish for blessings on ourselves and others.

I saw many seafarers over the Christmas and New Year period, and many asked for a prayer of blessing. A prayer of blessing on others is something we can all do, regardless of whether we are clergy or not. In doing so we are asking for God to take care of an individual or group of people and for them to know happiness and God’s mercy in a very special way.

To say a prayer of blessing on someone is a natural expression of love and kindness. There are many beautiful prayers of blessing. I often use an old Celtic one: “May the road rise to meet you, may the sun shine always on your face, may the wind be always at your back, may the rain fall softly on your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.”

Many of you will know and love Aaron’s blessing in the Bible’s Book of Numbers: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

You may have your own favourite. But to pray a prayer of blessing on someone can be very simple indeed – you do not need special words. However, it was once said that to say a prayer does not change God, but it should change us.

Prayer is something of a mystery but at its heart lies our relationship with God. To pray is a way of building that partnership, of sharing with God and allowing Him to share with us. Such prayer will change us.

When we pray for a blessing on others, that prayer should motivate us to work to be a blessing to others in every way we can. That is a powerful and wonderful thing – to be a blessing to others. To be partners with God in helping answer our own prayers. That is what he calls us to do.

And one of the great things about praying is that we can try and make a difference for others even from thousands of miles away. We can try and think of ways of being a blessing to others, however remote we feel.

God’s love spans the world and the universe. May God make us a blessing to others in 2024.

The Revd Canon Andrew Wright is secretary general of The Mission to Seafarers.

A prayer for seafarers

Our Lord Jesus Christ be near you to defend you, Within you to refresh you, Around you to preserve you,

Before you to guide you, Behind you to justify you, Above you to bless you, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God for evermore, Amen