Blessing Children
By |   February 20, 2012 |   in Family Life |   9 Comments

I’m a father to three sons who are now all teenagers. I’m continually amazed at each one’s uniqueness. They are a great blessing to me. When all three of them were young children, I took some training in spiritual direction at the Pecos Benedictine Abbey in New Mexico.

One of the gifts of that experience was witnessing rhythms and patterns of spoken blessing. When I returned home from four weeks of living this rhythm of life, community and ministry, I had a deep desire to express this rhythm of blessing with my sons.

At first, I simply improvised words of blessing, usually at bedtime, with each one. As I expressed words of affection, value and hopeful expectation, I increasingly sensed the voice of the Father expressing His heart to me. God told Abraham that he was being blessed so as to be a blessing to others. I was experiencing the blessing that came to me in blessing my sons.

Over time, a kind of family liturgy took shape. Our nighttime blessing took the following form:

Dad: The Lord be with you.
Son: And also with you.
Dad: May Almighty God bless you, Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
Son: Amen
Dad: Go (or sleep) in peace
Son: Thanks be to God.

These words are, of course, a very common liturgy of pastoral/congregational blessing. I’m not claiming they are original with me. I’ve often used them when saying farewell when preparing to leave on a ministry trip.

My wife began to enter into this rhythm herself, eventually landing on the following simple daily expression:

You are a child of God,
Holy and beloved,
A chosen friend of Jesus,
And a godly influencer of many.

Because our sons are patient and very kind, they still put up with us blessing them in these simple little expressions now that they are in their teens. I often bless them as I embrace them individually. Over the last decade, we’ve spoken these words to our sons thousands of times.

Our youngest son often struggled with fears at night. He’s the one gifted with a mighty imagination. Again, I began by praying certain scriptures over him at bedtime to help him feel safer and less afraid. Over time, that blessing also took a specific form. He came to call it the “scared blessing,” and he often asked me for it at bedtime.

May God’s love cast out every fear.

May God’s peace
guard your heart from every worry.

May God’s presence
keep you from ever feeling alone.

May God’s Spirit
protect your thoughts and dreams

until you awake in the morning

and remember again 
that God’s love
 is new and fresh for you.

When I’ve been mindful, this rhythm of blessing has become a place of letting God the Father bless my heart, express His care, His affection, and His hopeful expectation for my life. There are times when these have been very holy moments between father and son, and Father and son.

Join the Conversation

If you have children or grandchildren, how might God invite you to speak words of blessing to them?

How is God desiring to express words of blessing to you right where you find yourself today?


Alan Fadling:
fadlingAlan Fadling serves as Executive Director of The Leadership Institute in Orange, CA, training Christian leaders to integrate spiritual formation and leadership development. He serves as a frequent speaker and consultant and is the author of An Unhurried Life (IVP, 2013). He is a certified spiritual director living in Mission Viejo, California, with his wife Gem, and their three sons.  
    • Patrick Watters

      Thank you for this, truly beautiful for us and our children & grandchildren.. Leadership Institute? Do you work with or know Danny Wallen?

      • Greetings Patrick. You’re very welcome. I have not crossed paths with Danny, but then there are a number of us “Leadership Institutes” around.

    • Having three sons of my own, I love this idea! We already pray with then, but U particularily like the idea of spoken blessings. Especially one that can be repeated daily and really works its way into the fabric of their life as they grow. Thanks for the inspiration!

      • I love being Dad to three sons. The rhythm and regularity of these blessings has become meaningful to me and to them. I’m grateful that my 19-year-old will still let me give him a hug and speak those words of blessing to him…

    • Thanks for this post Alan. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this idea of speaking words of blessing over my sons and have begun shaping my own rhythm within our family. Thanks for some great ideas.

      • Great to hear from you, Brian. Exciting to see your growing family. Glad to hear this post helps you think creatively about how to express your father heart to them.

    • I like this.
      I bless my son every night …and wrote a blog about it not so long ago:

      but I like that yours is more liturgical, it seems more solid somehow.
      either way though, it’s really important to speak truth into lives of another, and if we can’t do it with our kids, how can we do it as leaders and ministers…?

      • Jared – glad to share good company with you. And I’ve found that the habit of blessing my sons over the last dozen years or so had made it far easier for me to express words of blessing to friends and others to whom I minister. Grace to you…

    • Aaron Johnson

      Alan, we’ve developed a routine at night where we read a bible story, pray with our girls, then bless their spirits. One way that we have recently personalized it has been to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us some unique aspects of our children. For instance, for our 4 year old, we are seeking to draw out an nurture compassion. I guess I’d add, nurturing, to your list of liturgical, and circumstantial (scared blessing).

      I’ve recently come to see how self-oriented some of my prayers and blessings have been, and have been adjusting them to be God-centered. The Psalms and the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6 have both been great helps in this.

      Thanks for sharing your journey in this.