Disclaimers | Links | Search | Contact
Faith and Testimony
Recognizing the Spirit
Prayer and Meditation
The Scriptures
Living Prophets
Inspired Blessings
Personal Revelation
Continuing Revelation
Learning from Others
Embracing All Truth

Inspired Blessings

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 a blessing.

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.

Related Topics:
Women and Priesthood    

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

Patriarchal Blessings

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 . . .
Collected Discourses (Burbank, CA and Woodland Hills, UT: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992), 5:348

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 us vested."

"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 . . .

Conference Report, October 1919, 31-32

This website is an independent effort to discern the Spirit's voice in LDS teaching. The site is not sponsored by the LDS Church. Quotations from the teachings of any individual should not be taken to imply that the individual does or would endorse this website or other statements made here.