Benedictions in the Bible - Powerful Prayers for Your Church Service

Benedictions in the Bible: Powerful Closing Prayers for Your Church Service

Someone once said, “Everyone brings their thimble to church, looking to fill it up, and they spill half of it in the parking lot on their way to their car.” If ever there were a reason for a church service benediction, it would be this: to instill one final biblical truth in your people to help them live out the substance of that week’s sermon.

Our church services open the door to elements and experiences that can’t readily be had in other places. Corporate worship, communion, baptism, group scripture readings, dedications, and much more. So much of what people want is available on demand, yet there are ‘religious’ practices and traditions that can only be experienced in corporate worship services. 

Benedictions fall into this category.

How many days in your year do you attend a gathering that sends people away with a heartfelt benediction? Probably not many in the 21st century.

Humans crave spiritual experiences, and every week, we pray that God’s Spirit will be present in our worship services. A service benediction is a chance to bring the service together and offer people a poignant, biblical send-off that is memorable and meaningful.

There are no rules for church service benedictions. You can literally do whatever you want to close out your service. In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 10:23, your benediction can look however you want it to.

One thing is for certain: you must be intentional about the benediction moment so that it benefits the people.

"Everyone brings their thimble to church, looking to fill it up, and they spill half of it in the parking lot on their way to their car." Unknown

Traditionally, a benediction functions as a prayer or a blessing, and in the local church, it’s often at the end of the service. A benediction is a counterpart to an opening call to worship. The call to worship sets the tone and attitude for the service, while the benediction provides an element of closure. 

Benefits of Worship Service Benedictions

There are no commandments in scripture mandating your worship service to have a benediction. The decision to include a benediction at the end of your service is completely up to you. 

It is worth noting some of the benefits of using a benediction some of the time, most of the time, or all of the time.

Benedictions Bring Closure

People love road maps. If you want people to ‘get in the car’ and go with you through your sermon, many people might be more willing to go if they know where you’re taking them. 

In the same way, people also want the ride to come to a complete stop before getting out of the car, and a benediction can provide the sensation of coming to a stop.

So much effort is put into building momentum through music, stories, media, and the message. Simply ending with a song and a dismissal can be jolting and even anticlimactic.

Instead of “just kind of ending” the service, a benediction will help you close the service in the same way a call-to-worship or opening song will help you start the momentum-building process.

Benedictions Are Rare

There aren’t many moments in life when people witness a proper benediction. In fact, some people’s most recent experience with a benediction would be a high school baccalaureate ceremony. 

Baptism and communion are two sacred acts that belong exclusively to the church. Scripture reading and creeds are two practices that are also observed in very few environments. Benedictions are not exclusively religious, yet, they are so rare in pop culture that their inclusion in your service can add a unique element that will feel exclusive to your services.

The Christian culture of the 1990s and 2000s was very much a “we have these things, too!” If you liked a particular band, you’ll love this other Christian band. Church and art became a mirror back to pop culture.

In the 2010s and onward, church services have sought to re-introduce sacred practices to services, and benedictions are one way you can deliver an experience that can’t be found elsewhere.

Obviously, if you begin doing benedictions more regularly, they will not be rare to your service experience, but they will still be rare in regards to how often they appear in daily life and, in that, they remain a rare experience.

Benedictions Are Short

The value-to-time-dedicated ratio for benedictions is incredible. Because benedictions can be incredibly short (as we will see in our examples below), they can be a unique and valuable contribution to your service without taking much time. 

Announcements may take 3-5 minutes, if you’re quick, and their overall value is somewhat debatable. Benedictions, on the other hand, take only 1-2 minutes and offer closure to your service in an exclusive and rare experience. Not a bad trade-off.

Benedictions Provide A Sense of Commissioning

Using the final moments of your service to remind your congregation of the word delivered and taking one final opportunity to articulate the big idea and application offers two great reasons to use a benediction. 

If you need one more, closing out your service with a benediction offers a sense of commissioning to your people, challenging them to go out and live the truths they’ve learned through faith in Christ.

People want to be challenged, and using a benediction to charge people to live in line with God’s Word is a worthy effort.

People want to be challenged, and using a benediction to charge people to live in line with God's Word is a worthy effort.

Benedictions In the Bible

When people search for ‘benedictions in the bible,’ they’re most certainly looking for passages that are designated benedictions. Almost as if it were labeled as: 

This Bible verse is a benediction.

And while there are passages that have benedictory qualities, in truth, nearly any passage you are preaching on can be turned into a benediction. It is particularly useful if you have preached a passage that doesn’t have an ‘official’ benediction attached to it but you want to send your people out with that Sunday’s sermon application points in mind.

You can write your own benedictions at any time, but if you’re looking for what scripture offers verbatim, here are a few of the more common benedictions or blessings found in scripture. 

Benediction from Jude 1:24-25

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Benediction from Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

The Aaronic Blessing from Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ from 2 Corinthians 13:14

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

The Great Shepherd from Hebrews 13:20-21

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Benediction from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

Benediction from Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The Shepherd’s Psalm from Psalm 23:1-6

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Benediction from 1 Corinthians 15:58: 

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Benediction from Colossians 3:15-16

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Benediction from Ephesians 6:23-24

“Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Benediction from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father…comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

Writing Bible Verses or Bible Ideas As Benedictions

You may find yourself preaching through a text without an obvious benediction in any of the verses. Still, you want to send your people out with a final word that captures the primary point of the message—something they can remember and hold on to. 

In the absence of a clear blessing or benediction, you can examine the text you’re teaching, the big idea of your message, and your application points to pull together a benediction that will provide a strong epilogue to the service. 

Here are a few examples of benedictions based upon several of the series guides provided in Sermonary with a Sermonary+ subscription.

End Times Benediction

The End Times

The End Times sermon series helps believers separate myth from what the Bible actually teaches about the end times. 

The big idea from week 1 is that Jesus assured His disciples He would return to them — not just from the grave, but after preparing a place for them. The application point for that message is that Jesus’s promise to return is something we have to take at His word based on his resurrection.

If you were to take this and rewrite it into a benediction, here is one way it could take shape.

“I want to send us out today with one final word of encouragement. May Jesus’ promise to return fill you with hope. Just as He rose from the grave, He will come back for us. In a world of uncertainty, trust in the power of His word and resurrection. Go in peace, knowing our Savior is faithful to His promises.”

Father’s Day: Rise and Tell

Father's Day

If you choose to preach a Father’s Day Sermon, you might want to consider including a blessing for dads or a benediction at the end of your service that can serve as a motivating rise to arms. 

Father’s Day: Rise and Tell sermon navigates Psalm 78, observing that God wants parents to model His ways so children will grow to be His and stay off a path of destruction.

The main portion of the text, Psalm 78:5–8, emphasizes the importance of passing down God’s testimonies, laws, and works from one generation to the next so that future generations may set their hope in God, keep His commandments, and avoid the stubborn and rebellious nature of their ancestors.

If you were to take the entire Psalm, focusing on verses 5-8, you might have a prayer that looks something like this prayer below. It is a bit longer, but hopefully, you can see how the themes of the verses are pulled into the prayer:

God, over and over again in scripture you describe Yourself as a Father and have gone to great lengths to make it clear to men what it is to be a father.

On Father’s Day, I pray that You would ignite within each man here today a fierce determination to lead, protect, and guide their families with unwavering strength and integrity. May they rise to the challenge of being the fathers You have called them to be, just as You commanded the children of Israel to teach Your ways to their children.

Give these men the courage to fight the battles that matter most – the battles for the hearts and souls of their children. Grant them the wisdom and words to share Your truth with their children, so their sons and daughters will know You and walk in Your ways.

Protect them from becoming distracted by titles, bank accounts, and follower counts, replacing them with the desire to gain the respect and honor that comes from being a man after Your own heart. Teach each man how to be a testament to Your faithfulness, a strong example for their children to follow.

Father, we pray that these men would break the cycle of sin that threatens their relationship with You and their relationship with their children. Use Your Spirit to humble them and lean on You to live with integrity, in grace, and truth.

On this Father’s Day, we honor the men who have answered Your call to fatherhood. Strengthen them, encourage them, and let them feel Your presence guiding them every step of the way.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

There are two things at play here. The first is what we already mentioned, using the main text of the sermon as the backbone for our blessing.

The second is leaning into language that resonates with men in this time, in this context. Some might believe it is inauthentic to prewrite a blessing when the truth is that pre-meditating this important part of your service allows you to choose which words you want to share, and then rehearse those words to make certain they sound the way you intend.

The Supreme Life: A Study In Colossians

The Supreme Life - A Study in Colossians

Every generation needs to experience a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ and the cost and joy of being His disciples. The Supreme Life: A Study In Colossians is a six-part series that breaks down those needs, as seen in Paul’s letter to the saints at Colossae—and to saints everywhere.

In Week 5, we find the following:

  • Big Idea of the Message: After outlining basic Christian character traits, Paul focuses on individual responsibilities within the family.
  • Application Point: Besides basic Christian behaviors, there are specific responsibilities for functions within God’s economy. 

A possible final benediction for this message could read something like this.

Remember the role God has given you. Step up, love well, and lead with patience. You are not alone — Christ is with you, giving you what you need. 

The main takeaway from this example is this benediction is simple. The strength of this benediction is less about length and more in the cadence in which you deliver those words. 

Benedictions for Popular Sermon Topics

If you’re looking for more examples of benedictions that can close out your service, here are several additional examples based on topics somewhat common to current cultural trends.

You could make any of these benedictions longer, but we’re intentionally keeping these short, poignant, and rich so they are easier to resonate with and retain beyond the service.

Benediction for Repentance 

The promises of power, money, and sex are idols that will fail. We are part of a kingdom that will never fall and never fail. May we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the ultimate rebel, who sacrificed everything to set us free. 

Benediction for Humility

Flip the script on our “me first” world. Put others ahead and go against the culture just like Jesus went against the culture. His radical love has changed you and me, and His radical love will continue to change others. Ditch the hunger for status and replace it with a longing for humility. At the back of the line is where true greatness is found.

Benediction for Money

Go forth with assurance that your Heavenly Father sees you, loves you, and will provide for your every need. Flowers have what they need. Birds have what they need. God will make certain you have what you need.

Benediction for Wisdom

You delight in answering prayers for wisdom. Guide our hearts, calm our minds, and grant us insight to glorify You. Lead us with grace and truth so our lives demonstrate Kingdom wisdom to the world.

Benediction for Salvation

There are two paths in life: one led by the flesh and one guided by Your Holy Spirit. Help us to turn away from what is selfish and temporary and cling to what lasts. Our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus is counted to us as righteousness, and our hope for true life is in that work. Amen.

Benediction for Prayer

Praise God. Confess sin. Receive forgiveness. Forgive others. You have taught us how to pray, and we ask that You would use our prayers to mold and shape us into men and women who reflect Your Kingdom, a kingdom where the King delights in knowing and loving His people… and is ready to grant them whatever they ask. 

Benediction for Forgiveness

God will give the course to forgive, even when it feels impossible. He will empower them to release bitterness and anger and then freely give freedom and peace. His love is bigger than any hurt or injustice this world can muster, and He is strong enough to take your pain upon Himself. He will heal your heart and give you what you need to walk in His victory. Amen.

How to Write Your Own Service Benediction Using AI

There are no rules for benedictions in your worship service. You can literally do whatever you want. One option you have is to take any scripture and engineer your own service benediction out of that verse.

Likewise, you can take your sermon points, manuscript, or outline and manufacture a benediction for the end of your service that reinforces the big idea of your message

You want a benediction that is true to scripture, relevant to that week’s service experience, simple to recite, and offers a sense of closure to the time together with hope for the future.

Should you use AI to write your sermon? Absolutely not.

Should you use AI as your primary source for interpreting and understanding the scriptures? Absolutely not.

Should you use AI as a source of inspiration, creative input, and collaboration? Well, should is a pretty strong word, but you definitely can!

Our caution is not to avoid AI. Saying we should avoid AI would be the equivalent of telling pastors, “You should avoid using Google for search,” or, “You should avoid using books in your study.” Like books, search engines, and conversations with colleagues, AI is a tool and a resource. The tool in and of itself is not inherently wrong – how you choose to leverage the tool is what matters.

One way you can leverage AI in your sermon writing process is to use AI to write a benediction based on your outline, notes, or manuscript. Here are simple steps:

Step 1: Copy Your Sermon Document Text

Select all the copy you want to use from your message and paste it into ChatGPT, Claude, or any other LLM. Magai is a great option, too.

At the top of the chat dialogue, type this prompt:

I am preaching a message about ________ and would like your help in drafting a short benediction at the end. I want the benediction to be relevant to the message, sound like me, be written at a 9th-grade reading level, be easy to recite, and easy to understand.

— paste your sermon content here —

Church benediction using Chat GPT prompt example

ChatGPT and other AI chatbots tend to take faith content, like sermons, and use overtly spiritualized language in the response. Words and phrases you might never utter are commonplace in learning language model responses. 

If you’re unhappy with the initial output, you can write subsequent prompts to direct the chatbot to produce an output that more closely resembles your church context. 

Here are two modifier options:

Modifier One

Try again, but avoid using overtly religious or spiritual-sounding language. Speak with the same vocabulary as someone living in the United States today.

Modifier Two

Rewrite using more contemporary language while still leaning on the original context provided. State everything as matter of fact.

Repeat these steps until you get to a version close enough to what you want to say. There is a strong likelihood that AI won’t produce a final version that you can use, word for word. Instead of trying to perfect the AI output, aim for a pretty good version that sounds like what you want to say.

Step 2: Manually Modify and Tweak the AI Output

It’s easy for Christians, pastors in particular, to get bent out of shape over AI when there is an assumption of no work, letting AI do everything. That’s not how to use AI in your sermon prep or for benediction writing. 

Over time there are ways to train AI to produce outputs more in line with your vernacular and style of speaking, but for our first service benediction, we’re looking at the output and modifying it manually. This process is similar to taking a benediction you’re working on, emailing it to a colleague asking for feedback, and then applying their feedback. 

Here is what AI produced for a prompt we created based on our manuscript for a message on Christianity and Work:

As we wrap up today, let’s carry forward the challenge to live by what’s real and true. Remember, in a world that often feels uncertain, we have the tools to seek out and stand by the truth.

May you all find clarity and confidence as you navigate the days ahead, and may your actions reflect the honesty and integrity we’ve talked about today. Let’s try to be lights in our communities, using truth to guide our decisions and interactions.

Wishing you all strength and wisdom. Let’s go out there and make a positive impact, armed with the courage to face the truth, no matter the challenge. Take care, and let’s look out for each other.

Here is how we modified the benediction:

May God’s Spirit challenge us to live by what’s real and true. In a world where things are uncertain, God is a firm foundation. Rely on His Word for confidence to navigate each day with honesty and integrity. Christ is our light, and this light is our courage to walk in truth, no matter the challenge.

Not only is this benediction more in line with the context and language of how many pastors would speak from the platform, it’s also shorter. 

We could use this benediction as is, but instead, we’ll leverage AI one more time.

Step 3: Simplify and Clarify Your Benediction

Our final step is to ask AI to look for ways to clarify the statement into a more poignant version. To do this we’ll use this prompt:

Here is my final benediction. I feel like it’s a little clunky. Clarify the statement, making it more poignant and simple without losing the sentiment or overall feel of the statement?:

May God’s Spirit challenge us to live by what’s real and true. In a world where things are uncertain, God is a firm foundation. Rely on His Word for confidence to navigate each day with honesty and integrity. Christ is our light and this light is our courage to walk in truth, no matter the challenge.

Here is the first output generated for our benediction:

May God inspire us to embrace what is real and true. In a world full of uncertainty, let God be our steady foundation. Turn to His Word for the confidence to face each day with honesty and integrity. Christ lights our path, and this light gives us the courage to pursue truth, no matter the challenge.

Not quite what we’re looking for. So we’ll try again. 

Here is my final benediction. I feel like it’s a little clunky. Will you improve upon the structure, minimizing any changes to the actual language used?:

May God inspire us to embrace what is real and true. In a world full of uncertainty, let God be our steady foundation. Turn to His Word for the confidence to face each day with honesty and integrity. Christ lights our path, and this light gives us the courage to pursue truth, no matter the challenge.

And here is a final version that feels simple, clear, poignant, and true to the way we speak:

May God inspire us to embrace what is real and true. In a world full of uncertainty, let God be our steady foundation. Turn to His Word for the confidence to face each day with honesty and integrity. Christ lights our path, giving us the courage to pursue truth, no matter the challenge.

In the same way, you are the ultimate judge when fielding feedback from peers, colleagues, staff members, and friends, you are the ultimate judge when fielding the feedback provided by AI.

In this case, you now have a benediction that is true to your message, true to your voice, and true to God’s Word. The entire process can take less than 10 minutes; as you get better and better at drafting benedictions, you may start feeling a benediction come together before you even finish your message. 

Incorporating A Benediction for the First Time

When you decide to incorporate a benediction in your service, you may feel inclined to say something to your people before you proceed with your final words. 

Perhaps this is a good idea, after all, people like knowing what’s happening. 

But in the same spirit as when you’re preaching, you don’t say, “And now I’m going to provide an illustration to help you better understand the concept I’m describing.” You just go straight into delivering the illustration. 

Resist the urge to draw attention to the fact that what you’re doing is new, and point all attention to the words you share. If you’re uncomfortable, your people will be uncomfortable. So practice how the benediction will take place. Make sure your team is aware of when you’ll step on stage, what you’re going to say, what the band should do while you’re speaking, what should happen immediately when you’re done, and what should be on the screen during your commission. 

As you navigate through your sermon outline before preaching on Sunday, you will want to embrace the same discipline of navigating through your benediction before speaking it at the end of the service. 

There are no rules for worship service benedictions but there are best practices for public speaking; preparing and practicing what you want ahead of time is a key best practice.

If a mountain can be moved with faith the size of a mustard seed, what can God do with a thimble filled with faith?

People are coming into the room with all sorts of hurt, baggage, distractions, and needs. Your benediction may serve as the message they can pack into their thimble and take with them throughout the week. If a mountain can be moved with faith the size of a mustard seed, what can God do with a thimble filled with faith?