“… Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head… and… he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head... Then he blessed Joseph and said, ‘May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm - may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly on the earth.’
…He blessed them that day”
Genesis 48: 14 - 16, 20, NIV, abridged, emphasis added

Extra reading: Genesis 35: 9 - 15, Genesis 12: 1 - 3

Wow! I think we’ll be hard pressed to find a clearer example of the laying on of hands than that! Off hand, can you guess how long ago the event in today’s reading took place?  Before I give you the answer, find today’s passage in your bible and then compare the bulk of pages before the passage with the bulk of pages after it - quite a big difference.

Okay, any guesses?

The answer is over 4000 years ago. The practice of the laying on of hands has been part of God’s people from very early in the Old Testament. In fact, if God’s people don’t build the laying on of hands into the foundation of the church then the old quip is true: they don’t make ‘em like the used to! 

Not only is it an ancient practice, it is also performed right through the bible even by Jesus and the apostles. And you? If this practice was good enough for Israel, for Jesus, and for the writer of the book of Hebrews, will you balk at it?

As we’ll see later on, one of the reasons for the laying on of hands is to impart blessing. Imparting blessing doesn’t consist just of putting your hand one someone and saying a nice wish, it’s about agreeing with what God says about you. As a matter of fact, laying your hand on someone is an action of agreement. Why don’t you find someone today that you can bless by agreeing with God’s opinion of them and speaking it over them while laying on hands?


Thank you Heavenly Father, not only for making me part of your people, but for teaching me about the ways of your people. Help me to impart your blessing as I c omit to practicing the laying on of hands.

Would you like to do this devotion with the family?

  1. Start by reading today’s passage. This could be the job of a child - maybe the abridged version above will be easier.
  2. Go through Psalm 139 and write down some godly truths on slips of paper. Write down as many truths as there are members of the family and put these slips in a bowl. Write down the name of each member of the family, each on a different slip of paper, and put these in a different bowl. Allow each member to draw a slip from each bowl: one name and one truth. Then go in turn and speak the truth over the name you’ve drawn while laying on hands. 
  3. Are there other truths or specific godly promises you can think of for each member? Why don’t you continue to speak blessing over one another. This can be a weekly or even daily practice.
  4. Finish by praying together and lead younger children. If the prayer above is too complex for children use the one below:

Thank you Heavenly Father for your good words over my life. I choose to agree with you and not  with any other words. Help me to encourage others to believe your good words.