Monday, April 27, 2009

Priesthood Blessings, Words vs Ideas

One aspect of the LDS church that is quite unique is that of a lay priesthood. Having average guys holding the authority to acti in the name of diety seems quite unusual. Actually, I quite like it. I've seen many great blessings (read: positive happenings) come from priesthood blessings (i.e. the ordinance that is performed). I do not doubt their power. I have felt the spirit confirming what was said, both in receiving and giving them.
But talking about blessings (the ordinance) with my wife and others has led me to believe that I have a very different feeling about how the revelation/inspiration occurs. To illustrate, I'll give a couple brief examples:

Story #1 - A friend of mine had two sons. Then he had a daughter. Along came another son. At the baby blessing for the youngest son, the father blessed him that he would be "a good example to his brothers and sisters."
Story #2 - My wife and I have shared our patriarchal blessings with each other. There is actually very little that they have in common. However, there is one difference that really struck out to her as we read them together the first time. Mine makes reference to me coming forth in the morning of the first resurrection, (assuming I live my life faithfully) whereas hers does not.

So, what's the fuss about? My friends wife (from #1) pointed out to us that this statement of "sisters" must mean that they were supposed to have another child... so they did. It was a boy. So they tried again, and got a girl. Now son #3 (child #4) could really be a good example to both his brothers and sisters.

My wife, noting the difference in our blessings, went on to explain to me that she was quite sure that the second coming will happen within her lifetime, because of the lack of this clause. Note, this is not something that she just concluded on her own. Apparently this was a common thing in her stake... the youth of the church are now receiving blessings without telling them when they'll be resurrected. This means that, obviously, they won't be... they'll be changed at His coming.

I don't want to sound antagonistic, or superior, but am I the only one who doesn't view blessings (the ordinance) as scripts given by the Lord to the individual? Am I the only one who doesn't think the exact wording is necessarily inspired? Havind two more kids because of an "s"?!? Not expecting death, because a phrase was not mentioned in your Patriarchal blessing?

From my experiences with giving priesthood blessings, here's how I see things. My guess is, my wife had a new Patriarch appointed, who tended not to say anything about the resurrection in his blessings (my wife's was not an isolated case... apparently this has been taught in church/seminary where she grew up). I think my friend was expressing a righteous desire in blessing his child, with faith that it would come to pass. He wasn't given certain quantites of siblings to include in the sentence.

I've given numerous blessings (ordinance, and hopefully at least occasionally been involved in the positive happenings of their lives :-) ) and I can say that, for me at least, the words spoken are frequently my own. I feel guided in what I should tell a person, what council I might give, etc., but for me, I would describe this process of being inspired with feelings. I feel the love that God has for his children. I "feel" what he wants to tell them. Then I try and get it out in language.

Am I alone here? How do you think of Priesthood blessings. Are the words that important?


  1. I myself as an Elder in the Church have had the opportunity to give Priesthood Blessings to those who are sick.
    While serving a full time mission for the Lord I was asked to give a blessing to someone I had never met before and I know that the Holy Ghost loosened my tongue and directed me as to what I should say (the words just flowed).Perhaps I was feeling more in tune as my companion & I had been fasting earlier that day.
    I know that if we exercise our faith and are
    obediant we will qaulify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost to assist us as we carry out our Sacred Priesthood responsibilities.

  2. In reference to Story #1, one could just as easily presume that the phrase "brothers and sisters" was referring to all of our Heavenly Father's children, as we are all literally brothers and sisters.

    Ultimately I feel the same way as you though -- many times the Spirit blesses us with feelings that can then be communicated into language. However, I have been a part of blessings where I didn't feel like I was the one speaking. It all likely depends on how in tune we happen to be at that moment, as well as how the Lord wants the blessing to be communicated. That's the gospel according to me anyway -- take it with the appropriate grain of salt.