Restoring the ministry of blessing

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In his book And I Will Bless Them, Roy Godwin shares how God has given authority to believers to bless people, communities, nations and land. The book, which has been endorsed by Pastor Pete Greig and worship leader Darlene Zschech, is combined with a video series by Roy giving practical advice on blessing individuals and sharing his miraculous encounters in various countries.

Christian Today spoke with Roy, founder of the Local Houses of Prayer movement and The Caleb Initiative, to hear his thoughts on restoring the ministry of blessing, the minimizing of the gospel message and whether he sees an increasing curiosity about God.

The book title 'And I will bless them' is taken from the end of Numbers chapter 6. Why this title for the book?

I strive to teach people how to enter into the ministry of spoken blessing. At the moment, I believe worldwide, as far as I've been able to see, one of the things that God is doing is restoring the ministry of spoken blessing. Everyone who is a follower of Jesus is able to speak blessings in the name of Jesus, but they are often quite scared to do so because of the thought: what if nothing happens? God says in Numbers chapter 6 that when you speak blessings over my people and put my name on them, I will bless them. That's the promise that God has given us. We minister the words, but the effectiveness of the blessing comes from Him and not from us. His promise of action leaves the responsibility with Him, so we can relax, speak the words, and leave everything else to Him.

You mentioned 'restoring the ministry of spoken blessing'. So would you say, at some point, this ministry was lost?

Yes, very much so. In the UK it has become normal to speak a blessing taken from scriptures at the end of a service. It's been relegated to that position and is often called a benediction. It's a tidy way of telling everyone that the service is over! But scripture tells us as part of our calling, we are to speak blessings in God's name.

What would you say is the main barrier to receiving God's blessing?

Most of us struggle to believe that God really does want to bless us. We can find it easy to believe that He will bless somebody else, but many find it hard to believe that God wants to 'bless me'. In part, it has to do with our understanding of what the Bible says. There's a tendency to believe 'God must be pretty busy with everybody else, and they deserve blessing so much more than I do. I don't see why He should want to bless me.' Christians inherit the promise found in Deuteronomy 7:13: "And he will love you, and he will bless you..." We are often unaware of what the Bible teaches and of what the word of God promises us. We simply are not aware and conscious of God wanting to bless us. It can be quite a revelation for people when they suddenly discover this to be true.

Do you have a strategy in place when speaking blessing upon non-believers?

Yes, if they seem comfortable speaking about Jesus, then I would ask them if it is OK if I bless them in the name of Jesus. If they say yes, I will bless them in Jesus' name and bless them, that God may enable them to taste and see how good He is and that Jesus may make Himself real for them. For many people who are not yet Christians, I would ask whether I can bless them. If they say yes, I would say, 'I bless you in Jesus' name. May you come to know everything there is to know which will enable you to have the best life possible.' That's very acceptable; it's non-challenging, it's non-religious. It's acceptable for people and of course we know as Jesus' followers that the only way that person is going to have a full life is by the Holy Spirit coming to reveal Jesus to them personally.

The blessing of God boils down to the gospel message. In the book you mention there being a 'gospel outline' and how Christians sometimes fall into the habit of reciting 'gospel summaries'. Has the gospel message been made too small and how do we share the gospel without watering it down?

I think the gospel has become far smaller than it was ever intended to be! We have concentrated it down, and if we want to, we can summarise the gospel so easily: God created mankind, He said that this was good, sin came in, and man fell; they needed a saviour and couldn't save themselves, so God sent Jesus as Saviour and if we turn to Him and offer our lives to Him in surrender, all that He did on the cross becomes ours, we are forgiven, cleansed and set free and one day we're going to be with Him. Phew! That is very neat, very tidy, and very true.

There are two difficulties with this. Firstly, we are presenting propositions and expecting people to agree to them. That's OK; people cannot believe it unless they have heard it. However, the spiritual rebirth that Jesus speaks of depends on the work of the Spirit of truth, who comes and turns those truths into personal revelation. Secondly, the outline above, while gloriously true, is only one part of the good news. Take Mark 1 Chapter 14, for instance, where Jesus is said to be coming as the herald of the Good News of God and says, "The kingdom (rule) of God has come near. Start to live rightly and believe in this good news."

Everything he speaks about is the Kingdom. It's a vast work that God is doing, invading a fallen world. Jesus is the one who inaugurates a new order of things, a man with no sin, the second Adam.

It isn't just a case of 'if you put your trust in Jesus, you will go to heaven'. No, if you put your trust in him, you enter into the newness of life today, and God has a purpose for you today. It's not all about tomorrow, it's world-changing and relevant today.

Have you sensed or witnessed a yearning or curiosity from people to know more about God in recent times?

Yes, I would say since the pandemic, I've seen a dramatic shift. There has certainly been a significant change regarding people's openness. People's ideas of what they trusted in and what they valued in life, their anchors, were all taken away. Where I live, we were allowed to go out and walk around because the chance of meeting anybody else closely was negligible.

By walking at the same time every day we began to meet others who were doing the same. It was remarkable how natural it seemed for conversation to turn to the good news of Jesus.

Since then, it has continued to be easy to talk to others about faith, answered prayers, and about the Jesus who is alive today and Lord of all. The fact that hope is found in a God who loves us and wants good for the whole world and for us personally resonates with the deep sense of futility and longings of heart for a purpose in their lives.

What is your favourite verse in the Bible about God's blessings?

For me it's the last verse of Numbers 6 "and I will bless them". It's a constant promise that takes away fear and responsibility. God is saying 'you just speak the words and I will bless them'.

There is a chapter titled 'Blessing physical ground'. Why was it important to have this chapter?

It's part of the bounty of God. If we go back to the beginning, God created mankind in the setting of a beautiful garden which was rich and luxurious in its fruitfulness, and God promised abundant sustenance. Then, when sin came into the world, it wasn't only mankind that was caught up in the fall; creation itself suffered the effects, too.

Paul writes in the New Testament in Romans 8:22 about the whole of creation groaning in futility, but God's desire is to reorder all things and restore all things. He desires that creation itself be healed and restored to sing praise to God and show forth God's glory. Over the centuries, on physical land at different times, there have been wars, bloodshed and idolatry, sacrifices and other sins which, according to the Bible, pollute the land and initiate curses.

We are called as God's people to be engaged in redeeming the land as part of the cosmic purposes of God to redeem all things - not just people - and to unite heaven and earth under the rule of Jesus. We can speak blessings over the land in the name of Jesus to see it restored, healed and abundantly fruitful. Armed with the name and authority of Jesus Christ, we carry the antidote to every curse which has fallen on people's lives and circumstances, relationships and communities, and even land. This is Good News from God indeed.

And I Will Bless Them by Roy Godwin is out now priced £14.99.