As we read the glorious account of the Savior’s visit to the American continent, we might long to have been among those righteous Nephites and Lamanites who watched as the Lord “took their little children, one by one, and blessed them” (3 Ne. 17:21). But even though the Savior is not here among us, he has made it possible for every faithful adult and child to receive priesthood blessings. Some of these blessings are part of essential ordinances—such as confirmations and priesthood ordinations. At other times, blessings of encouragement and direction often come as part of naming and blessing of babies, setting individuals apart, and patriarchal blessings. And we can always receive special blessings from a worthy priesthood bearer for direction, healing, and comfort.
Our challenges vary, but there are times in each of our lives when we may feel the need for a blessing from God. These blessings can come through worthy husbands, fathers, and other holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood. An elderly woman in frail health who was frequently lonely asked a young priesthood holder for a blessing from time to time to strengthen and comfort her and help her understand the mission God had for her in her later years. Another sister, the only Church member among the faculty at her school, felt a need for help as she prepared for a meeting to discuss issues over which the faculty bitterly disagreed. She wanted to present her ideas forthrightly but without rancor. She sought a blessing from her home teacher that she might have the Spirit with her in the meeting. A mother sought a blessing from her husband at the beginning of each school year, at the same time as he gave priesthood blessings to their children. She sought direction and assistance in the new challenges and responsibilities that would come as she worked with the children.
For what reasons might you ask for a blessing?
The efficacy of a priesthood blessing depends, in part, on the faith of the recipient. “Blessed is she that believed,” said Elisabeth to Mary, when she went to visit her, “for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45). To ask for a blessing is itself an exercise of faith. Fasting in preparation for the blessing may also increase our faith and sensitivity to the impressions of the Spirit. But the most effective preparation for a priesthood blessing may be our daily reaching for a relationship of trust with God. This includes prayer, scripture study, repentance, obedience, and sacrifice. It is by diligence and faithfulness in seeking God that we obtain faith in him and in his power to bless us.
Following a blessing, it is helpful to remember the feelings we have had and to contemplate and pray about the words that were spoken. A mother, weighed down with anxiety about a daughter who had left home and withdrawn from activity in the Church, asked her husband for a blessing and was promised that this child would one day be a great source of joy to her. During difficult months that followed, remembering the blessing gave her strength to let go of her heavy feelings and courage not to panic or give up. She said, “We really need to listen, write down [the statements or promises that stood out] in our personal journals, refer back to them—go back and remember what the Lord has said—go back and believe.” While it is always appropriate to ask for a blessing in time of need, we should not seek repeated blessings over a short period of time or “shop around” until we find the blessing we like.
God delights to bless us (see D&C 41:1). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. … He will be inquired of by His children. He says, ‘Ask and ye shall receive’” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 257).
How can priesthood blessings help you fulfill your life’s mission?