23 Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24 The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.’
The church I grew up in didn’t use this traditional benediction at the close of services. For the last 15 years or so the churches I have attended used this or some variation and I came to look forward to it as a personal blessing for my week and life.
That God should bless me, personally. That God should shine his blessing on me, personally. That God should watch over me, personally. And last of all that God should give me his peace, personally.
The repetition of the word personally is important to what this prayer means to me; that this is not a general blessing to the congregation but rather a personal blessing to me as an individual believer.
In working my way through the last year I prayed daily for God’s peace. Whenever I felt overwhelmed and completely lost I reached for that peace as it says in Philippians 4:6-7
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
While I could not maintain anything like a perfect connection with God’s peace these simple prayers helped me remember that I was not alone and that God was with me guarding me and guiding and at times carrying me when I simply could not carry myself.
And when I remember that I was not alone I could very personally feel God’s peace.