Michael W. Smith is a Grammy and Dove award-winning artist who is the author of A Simple Blessing: The Extraordinary Power of an Ordinary Prayer. He spoke with Beliefnet about the importance of praying blessing and how it changes lives.
Learn more about the National Day of Prayer 2011.
Q. Knowing that prayer is not a formula for a perfect life, what should people expect when praying a blessing over someone else?
A. They should be expecting it’s going to come true. Even if that person doesn’t have the faith to receive it, I think you can have enough faith for them to receive it. It’s amazing how many people have not had a blessing ever spoken over them. First time I ever did it was on a ship in front of a thousand fans. The response was so overwhelming. There was a common thread throughout the whole day: "I've never had a blessing spoken over me." "I had an abusive dad." "My mom was absent." Sad story after sad story. I believe there’s power in the spoken word. I’ve seen people who were in the funk totally come out of it.
Q. And then there are people who just don’t believe that God could be that good to them.
A. If I had to address one issue, it would be that. I don't think you can live a fulfilled life and walk in the goodness of God unless you know how much He really loves you. Some people I know are always in the funk, beating themselves up – just negativity and a low self-esteem. I think a lot of that is from the way they were raised. It's like in these third world countries. You grow up in poverty and think, 'This is my life. I was born in poverty; I'm going to die in poverty.' It's a big lie. Believe what the Word says about you. He not only loves us, He likes us. He's fond of us. He calls us His own. He knows us by our name – Scripture after Scripture of settling the identity crisis of who we are in him. Once you get that piece, that's 90 percent of the battle.
Q. How important is it that parents pray over their children?
A. There's nobody more important in praying for kids than Mom and Dad. It's tough out there. It has to be a constant thing. We would continue to cover our kids in prayer. You just do your best. At the end of the day, you can't worry yourself to death, because you realize that God loves your kids more than you do. You just pray with great faith and be at peace. The key is, how are you with your kids at home? I’ve been married for 29 and a half years. My wife is amazing. If we have one thing we might disagree over is she thinks we could have been stricter. I was always like, 'Let them work out their own salvation.' Just love your kids and when they make mistakes, affirm. You gotta affirm your kids every chance. 'Hey, you're awesome. That's a great job.'
Q. You talk about personal holiness in your book. How does that relate to prayer?
A. I'm on the journey like everybody else. I've had this conversation a lot with a good friend of mine, Jim Caviezel. He's a born again Catholic. He talks about holiness a lot, and it’s a blessing and a piece where the Catholic Church is right on. For me, it's just spending time with the Lord. Turn off the phone, get off the computer and just get quiet. One of my favorite things to do is go to my farm and be quiet. I don't think you can ever really hear the Lord unless you turn the stuff off. And then, for me, what's my motivation? It's real key to gluiding into holiness. If your motivation is pure to do the right thing, to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself and put yourself last… that leads to personal holiness.
It's always a challenge for me every night to get up there and all these people screaming for you. The cool thing is I never could have orchestrated any of this. Some ow He picked me and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, if not for the grace of God, I would have been toast a long time ago. I know that now more than I ever have.
Pray in Scripture, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew in me a steadfast spirit' [Psalm 51:10]. All these Scriptures that are just about God I want to be like You.
May 5, 2011 marks the National Day of Prayer. Learn more about the event here.