Inspired by the Holy Ghost, we can speak the words that Christ would
speak if present: words of comfort, counsel, or healing (2
Ne. 32:2-3). Blessings, traditionally accompanied by laying on
of hands, are a vehicle through which Latter-day Saints seek personal
revelation for themselves or act as prophetic mouthpieces of God's
love in support of others.
The custom of blessing infants emulates the blessing of children by Jesus
(Matt. 19:13-15; 3 Ne. 17:11-12). These blessings
are also an opportunity to give thanks for the safe delivery of mother
and child. A patriarchal blessing (or "evangelist's blessing")
provides pastoral counsel from a respected elder member of our faith community.
We can reflect on this counsel throughout our lives in the same discerning
spirit we use to study the scriptures.
Health blessings offer strength for healing and the reassurance that whatever
happens, we are in God's hands (D&C 42:44).
Any life transition or time of difficulty can be an occasion to receive
For someone giving a blessing, inspiration might come spontaneously (D&C
100:6) or during prayerful reflection beforehand (D&C
9:7-8). Blessings are often phrased as imperatives or promises,
but they can also take the more familiar form of a prayer
(Matt. 19:13; James 5:14-15; D&C 42:44).
There is precedent in LDS tradition for non-priesthood holders to participate
by laying hands on the bed of the one being blessed. There is also precedent
for women and men together to lay hands on the head or for women to administer
blessings by themselves.
Blessings for Children
|John Taylor: "Every
member of the Church of Christ having children, is to bring them unto
the Elders before the Church, who are to lay their hands upon them
in the name of Jesus Christ and bless them in his name." . .
. [T]his command is attended with beneficial results to babe and to
parents, who by bringing their child before the Church manifest their
faith in the sight of their brethren and sisters, in God's word and
in his promises, as well as their thankfulness to him for increasing
their posterity and for the safe delivery of his handmaiden. The child
is also benefited by the united faith and responsive prayers of the
assembled Saints . . .
|Messages of the First
Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75), 2:311
|Gene R. Cook: We ought to be careful not to give blessings only when there are problems.
We should encourage our children to ask for blessings when they're going
away from home, leaving for school, starting a new job, or at any other
appropriate time. Sometimes a father may just feel prompted to give a
child a blessing of commendation. If the family wants to record these
for the child's future benefit, that could surely be done.
|Raising Up a Family to the Lord
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993), 196
|Karl G. Maeser: Our patriarchal
blessings are paragraphs from the book of our possibilities.
|"Dr. Karl G. Maeser's
Sayings," Conference Report, October 1937, 18
John A. Widtsoe: These
blessings . . . rise to their highest value when used as ideals,
specific possibilities, toward which we may strive throughout life.
To look upon a patriarch as a fortune-teller is an offense to the
Priesthood; the patriarch only indicates the gifts the Lord would
give us, if we labor for them. . . . Those who seek patriarchal
blessings should ask for them . . . with an earnest, prayerful desire
to become, through the blessings, more completely happy in their
lives, and more perfectly serviceable in the work of the Lord. .
. . As the blessing was given through the inspiration of the Lord,
so its meaning will be made clear by the same power; and its fulfillment
will be in His hands.
|Evidences and Reconciliations,
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960), 323-324
Ezra Taft Benson:
Receive a patriarchal blessing. Study it carefully and regard it
as personal scripture to you—for that is what it is. A patriarchal
blessing is the inspired and prophetic statement of your life's
mission together with blessings, cautions, and admonitions as the
patriarch may be prompted to give.
|Teachings of Ezra Taft
Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), 214
Participation by Non-Priesthood Holders
|Owen Woodruff: After
the meeting Brother David H. Cannon and myself returned there, and
we were requested to lay hands on the little one. We knelt down by
the bedside, and laid our hands upon her, and the mother and brothers
and sisters knelt down also and laid their hands upon the bed . .
(Burbank, CA and Woodland Hills, UT: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992),
Joseph F. Smith: Does
a wife hold the priesthood with her husband? and may she lay hands
on the sick with him, with authority? . . . [I]f she is requested
to lay hands on the sick with him, or with any other officer holding
the Melchizedek priesthood, she may do so with perfect propriety.
It is no uncommon thing for a man and wife unitedly to administer
to their children, and the husband being mouth, he may properly
say out of courtesy, "By authority of the holy priesthood in
|"Questions and Answers,"
Improvement Era, February 1907, 308
Heber J. Grant: When
I was a little child, in a Relief Society meeting . . . , Sister
Eliza R. Snow, by the gift of tongues, gave a blessing to each and
everyone of those good sisters, and Sister Zina D. Young gave the
interpretation. After blessing those sisters, she turned to the
boy playing on the floor, and pronounced a blessing upon my head
by the gift of tongues, and Zina D. Young gave the interpretation.
. . . What was it? It was a prophecy, by the gift of tongues, that
[this] boy should live to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ
. . .
October 1919, 31-32