Photo credit: Shewanda Riley

By Shewanda Riley

“You are blocking your blessing!” This is what one friend told me a few years ago was
the reason why I was not receiving God’s blessings in one particular area of my life. She said
that instead of focusing on faith, I focused too much on my doubt. At first, I agreed with her
about the impact that faith had on receiving God’s blessing. However, it wasn’t until I read
story of The Widow’s Olive Oil from the Old Testament that I realized that receiving God’s
blessing has more do with just having faith. First of all, we must have faith in order to be
willing to admit that we need a blessing. But we also need to prepare to receive the blessing
by having the right amount of faith.
The Widow’s olive oil story is found in 2 Kings 4 begins with the widow asking the
prophet Elisha to help her with her finances. When he asks her how he can help and what she
has, she says that all she has is olive oil. In 2 Kings 4:3 Elisha responds by telling her” Go
around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and
shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to
one side.”
She does what appears to be everything Elisha instructs her to do with the exception of
one thing: She does not have enough jars for the abundance of oil that follows. In verse 6
her son replies “’There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.” Were her blessings
literally stopped because of her unbelief illustrated in her not having enough jars? Some say
that she only partially obeyed the prophet’s instructions which is still disobedience. Others
say that what stopped her blessings (the oil flowing) was that she did not gather enough jars
because though she had faith (as symbolized by the number of jars), she didn’t have enough when it was necessary. Interestingly, she had faith to reach out to Elisha and even had
enough faith to follow his instructions. Even after the oil stopped, she had faith and went back
to the prophet who told her to sell the oil she had bottled and to use what remained to take
care of her debts. She even had enough oil to provide for her family’s future needs.
Like the widow, we often have no problem acknowledging God’s instructions and even
obey in faith to the best of our abilities. Yet, sometimes, blessings may stop simply because
we did not adequately prepare to receive them. I think the widow’s story is much like how
some of us respond when we want blessings from God but struggle with receiving them in their
promised abundance. We have to have enough faith to pray for the blessing, but we also have
to be prepared to receive the overabundance of the blessing when it comes.

Shewanda Riley (Aunt Wanda), PhD, is a Fort Worth-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving
from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book
of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at or follow her on Twitter
@shewanda. You can also listen to her podcast at