“Lesson 13: Patriarchal Blessings,” Young Women Manual 2, 46
Each young woman will understand how a patriarchal blessing can guide her life.
1. Picture 9, A Young Woman Receiving a Patriarchal Blessing, and picture 10, A Garden Maze. Both are located at the back of the manual.
2. Bring a pencil or pen for each young woman.
3. Optional: Prepare a handout for the young women to take home. It should include ways to prepare to receive a patriarchal blessing. See the section “We Can Prepare to Receive Our Patriarchal Blessings.”
4. Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.
SUGGESTED LESSON DEVELOPMENT
A Patriarchal Blessing Can Give Us Purpose and Direction in Life
Picture and teacher presentation
Display the picture of a maze. Explain that a maze is a confusing, complex group of passages. Many gardens in eighteenth-century Europe and colonial America had mazes of very high, carefully trimmed hedges. Walking through these mazes was a popular pastime. The object was to find the path leading out of the maze. Sometimes people would become lost and confused. But those who had practice or a guide who knew the way could travel through with ease.
• How would the view of someone in a tree above the maze differ from the view of someone on the ground?
• What help could a person in the tree give to those lost in the maze?
• How is life like a maze?
Help the young women understand that we see things from a limited perspective as we travel through this mortal life, just like the person who cannot see beyond the hedges of the maze. We usually focus our hopes and dreams on the things that we can see in this world. Just as a person seeing the maze from a tall tree can direct the person on the ground, someone who can see our life from before we were born until after we die can guide us now. A patriarchal blessing can be compared to the guidance from the person in the tree. This blessing is from Heavenly Father, who can see the end from the beginning. Heavenly Father knows us as we were in the premortal life, as we are now, and as we will be in the life hereafter. He gives us a blessing to warn us of dangers and promise us blessings we cannot foresee.
Quotations and chalkboard discussion
Read, or have class members read, the following quotations. Then discuss what a patriarchal blessing may contain, recording the items on the chalkboard.
“The purpose of a patriarchal blessing [is] to interpret and reveal to us, through the inspiration of the Almighty, why we are here and what is expected of us that we might fill the measure of our creation here upon the earth” (LeGrand Richards, “Patriarchal Blessings,” New Era, Feb. 1977, p. 4).
“[Patriarchal blessings are given] to meet our special requirements in life, for our comfort, success, and strength. Our special needs may be pointed out; special gifts may be promised us; we may be blessed to overcome our weaknesses, to resist temptation, or to develop our powers, so that we may the more surely achieve the promised blessings. Since all men differ, their blessings may differ; but a patriarchal blessing always confers promises upon us, becomes a warning against failure in life, and a means of guidance in attaining the blessings of the Lord” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960], pp. 322–23).
• Does a patriarchal blessing tell us everything we should do or everything that is supposed to happen to us?
Point out that the promises in a patriarchal blessing (1) are often general and (2) always depend on our obedience. We cannot look to a patriarchal blessing to tell us every step we should take. But it can be a valuable guide.
Tell the following story to show how following the guidance of a patriarchal blessing can protect us from danger:
Susan’s patriarchal blessing contained several warnings to keep the Word of Wisdom strictly. It specifically warned her to allow no one to tempt her to violate any part of that commandment so that she could keep herself pure and clean. This warning surprised Susan because she had long since made the commitment to obey this commandment. Most of her friends were members of the Church, and she had never been tempted to break the Word of Wisdom.
Several years after receiving her patriarchal blessing, Susan found a job in a hospital in a big city. She was the only member of the Church working there. Most of her friends respected her beliefs and did not ask her to smoke or drink with them. But one night at a party, one of the supervising doctors poured a glass of wine for everyone, including Susan. When she did not join in the toast, he asked, “What can one small glass of wine hurt?” When she again declined, he began making fun of her, and others began tempting her to join the party. Since she was feeling uncomfortable, she was considering taking the drink when the words of her patriarchal blessing came into her mind: “Allow no one to tempt thee to violate any part of that commandment.” Remembering those words gave her the strength she needed to resist temptation.
Explain that one of the main purposes of a patriarchal blessing is to tell us what our lineage is.
Point out that lineage means the ancestral line we are descended from. Through this line we inherit certain blessings.
Have the young women read Abraham 2:9–11. Explain that Heavenly Father made certain promises to Abraham:
1. That his descendants would receive the gospel.
2. That through the power of the priesthood, his descendants would carry the gospel to all nations.
3. That all who accept the gospel would be adopted into the family of Abraham and inherit his blessings.
Explain that Heavenly Father made the same promises to Abraham’s son Isaac, and to Isaac’s son Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel). Everyone who joins The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints becomes an heir of the blessings of Abraham and Isaac through one of the tribes of Israel. This means that we can receive all the blessings the Lord promised to these great prophets if we live righteously. Many of us belong to the tribe of Joseph, either through his son Ephraim or through his son Manasseh. We learn this through our patriarchal blessings.
We Can Prepare to Receive Our Patriarchal Blessings
Display the picture of a patriarch blessing a young woman. Explain that doing certain things will help a young woman prepare to receive a patriarchal blessing.
• Have any of you received your patriarchal blessing? Have any of your brothers or sisters or friends received theirs?
• What are some of the things you or people you know have done to prepare to receive a patriarchal blessing?
Write the young women’s ideas on the chalkboard. Be sure to include the following ideas if no one mentions them:
1. Be a worthy, baptized member of the Church.
2. Have a desire to receive a blessing.
3. Understand the promises in the blessing given to Abraham.
4. Be mature enough to appreciate the blessing you will receive.
5. Go to the bishop for an interview and receive a recommend from him.
6. Soon after your interview with the bishop, make an appointment with the patriarch assigned to your stake.
7. Prepare yourself by studying the scriptures, fasting, and praying.
8. Pray for the patriarch to be inspired.
Optional: Give each young woman a handout with the preceding suggestions listed on it. If other ideas have been brought out by the class, have the young women add them to their lists.
Explain that patriarchal blessings are recorded. We receive one copy, and one copy is filed in the official Church records. We should read our blessings frequently and prayerfully, and live for the promised blessings. Our patriarchal blessings will be a comfort to us in times of trial and sorrow and will give us courage to change the direction of our lives if necessary. All blessings given from our Heavenly Father are based upon our worthiness to receive them. This means we must continue to live worthy of the blessings promised if we desire to have them.
Explain to the young women that we should not usually let others read our blessings. But we may let members of our families read them, and occasionally others who are close to us when we feel inspired to do so. We should not compare our blessings with those of our friends. If a blessing is lost, a copy can be obtained by writing to the Historical Department, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.
Point out that our patriarchal blessings will take on added meaning as we study and pray to understand them more fully.
Have someone read this statement from President Spencer W. Kimball:
“I have great confidence in the patriarchs and in their blessings. When the patriarch is a faithful Latter-day Saint and remains close to the Lord and is a student of the scriptures, the promises which he makes under his special authority and calling will be fulfilled, if the recipient of the blessing is faithful and true” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p. 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 4).
1. Suggest that the young women prepare themselves to receive their patriarchal blessings by following the suggestions in this lesson.
2. Challenge them to read their blessings with prayerful hearts and strive to live worthy to receive the promised blessings.