In the Church there are two kinds of patriarchs: (1) fathers and (2) men who are ordained to the office of patriarch in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Fathers who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood can give blessings to their family members, but these blessings are not recorded by the Church, although they may be recorded by the family. On the other hand, blessings given to worthy Church members by an ordained patriarch are recorded by the Church; these blessings are called “patriarchal blessings.”
Patriarchs give blessings according to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Your patriarchal blessing may contain warnings and promises, and it may reveal what the Lord expects of you and what your potential is. The promised blessings will be fulfilled in the Lord’s time—subject to your faithfulness. Only by following the counsel in the blessing will you receive the promised blessings. Some of the blessings may even occur in the next life. Your patriarchal blessing will not give complete details of your life. If it does not mention a full-time mission or temple marriage, for example, that does not mean that you won’t have that opportunity.
Your patriarchal blessing will also declare your lineage in the house of Israel—you could be from the tribe of Ephraim, Judah, Manasseh, or one of the other tribes.1 This lineage is important because of the Abrahamic covenant, which includes the Lord’s promise to Abraham that through his posterity “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel” (Abraham 2:11). All Church members belong to the house of Israel, either by literal descent or by spiritual adoption. As such, we have a role to play in carrying the gospel to the world.
To receive a patriarchal blessing, speak with your bishop or branch president, who can give you a recommend to receive one. You can enhance the experience of receiving a blessing if you fast and pray beforehand. Close family members may be present when you receive your patriarchal blessing.
After receiving your blessing, a printed copy of it will be sent to you. Keep it confidential; its counsel and promises are personal to you and should not be shared casually with others. Study it often; it will provide guidance, comfort, and protection.