The single most important concern we should have as parents should be the same primary concern Jesus has for us: We must make it our ultimate goal to help our children know and love God with all their heart.

How do we do that? One of the simplest and most powerful ways to help children know and love God is to give them a daily, concrete encounter with His power and favor by laying hands on them and speaking a blessing.

The concept of a parent speaking a blessing on a child may seem strange, but it is scriptural. It's an ancient and respected custom dating back to biblical times. In fact, the family setting for the blessing apparently predates its use in the public setting; the priest or other official who spoke benedictions on the people of Israel was only supplementing the most basic of blessings - the one given by the father to the children. ...

  • Start today, no matter the age of your children.

  • Bedtime is a good time to bless your kids, but by no means the only time. Explore what works best for your family, with regard to the time of day and frequency of the blessing.

  • Choose words for your blessing by referring to the suggestions in this book or finding them in Scripture. The words don't necessarily have to be the same every time, though there are benefits to continuity.

  • Blessing should never take the place of prayer. Blessing, prayer for your children, and prayer with your children are all important ways of including children in our conversations with God.

  • Explain to your children what you're doing and why.

  • Hold your children in your arms when you bless them, and place your hand or hands on their heads.

  • Always invoke the name of God in your blessing.

  • Teach your children that the family blessing is only one of the ways God uses to bless and protect us.

Above all, begin today!

Excerpted by permission from The Family Blessing: One Simple Act That Will Dramatically Change Your Family's Future, copyright 2001 by Rolf Garborg. All rights reserved. Published by Harrison House, Inc., Tulsa, Ok., www.harrisonhouse.com, 1-800-888-4126.

Rolf Garborg has served for thirty-five years in the Christian publishing industry, founding the Spanish publishing house Editorial Betania, co-founding a Christian gift company and helping to lead various other publishing organizations.

Have you ever tried saying a blessing over someone in your family? What was that experience like, and how did God answer that prayer? If you pray a blessing regularly in your family, what specific prayer do you pray and why? Visit the Books Forum to discuss this topic. Just click on the link below.