In the Old Testament, the predominant Hebrew term for bless is barak – kneel (berek is knee). In the New Testament, it is eulogia, a compound world. Eu means good, and logia, from logos, means word. Thus, in the New Testament, a blessing is a good word from God. Together, the two terms offer a powerful picture of the fundamental purpose of prayer. We kneel to receive from God, His good word over us, about us and in our behalf! Prayer is more about what God might say to us than what we say to Him!
All blessing dances around the idea of man before God, man kneeling before God and by implication, man humbling himself, presenting himself to God in prayer. It also carries the idea of a gift, a gift of value and one that reveals value. We value God as we kneel before Him. We value His hand on our lives. We value His involvement in our lives – and this needs to be explicit; it cannot be an unstated assumption. Otherwise, we begin to presume upon God, and that is the essence of arrogance and overfamiliarity, of pride. We, in kneeling, receive from God a gift – the blessing. So prayer is as much about our posture as it is about the sounds we make. It is not merely the physical posture, but rather what our posture infers in terms of our attitude, the posture of a bent heart, a prostrate figure before God.
In Hebrew thinking, actions and language are one. Hebrew is linguistically dynamic. Words, in Hebrew, are related to actions. These actions manifest in measurable ways – they can be heard or seen, tasted or smelled, touched or sensed. Inherent in the Hebrew language is the idea that words have a force; they are conjoined with deeds. To say is to do. For example, in Genesis we find, “Then God said…and there was.” Or, “God said…and it was so” (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14-15, 24, 29-30). In Western thinking, it is sadly common for one to say or confess one thing and behave in a contradictory manner. In the ancient Hebrew mind, the language caused the pledged behavior. “God said… and it was so!” Incongruence between words and deeds might occur, but such a division was not normal.
Blessing then involves the humble submission of self. It involves the presentation of our lives before God in a spirit of reverence, worship and adoration. There, before God, we receive God’s kindness and grace, and He pronounces blessings over us. There we wait for the “God said…and it was so.” We wait for the empowerment of His Word, the assertion of His sovereignty in and over our lives, and for the decrees that settle issues about which we would struggle for a lifetime and never resolve. We wait also for the creative, life-giving power of the Spirit and force of His breath. There, in prayer, before God, we are positioned as agents of the grace we receive. The blessing is to be passed on. Barakhâh carries the idea of benediction, and more so, of prosperity and success. One of its meanings is that of a ‘pool.’ It is as if blessings stream into our lives in such abundance that there is created a reservoir of blessings, to then flow to others.