Lesson 17: Patriarchal Blessings

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 60–64


Objective

Each young man will understand the value of a patriarchal blessing and will prepare himself to receive one.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      A pencil and a piece of paper for each young man.

  2. 2.

    You may wish to assign a young man who has already received his patriarchal blessing to explain how he prepared to receive his blessing. If none of the young men has received a patriarchal blessing yet, be prepared to tell of your own experience.

Note

A patriarchal blessing is very personal and sacred. Because a person receives only one patriarchal blessing, this sacred experience should come at a time when a young man desires it and feels ready to live up to its promises. Some of the young men may have already received their patriarchal blessings. Although some may be mature enough to receive one now, others may not. Inspire the young men to prepare for a patriarchal blessing, but do not pressure them to receive one at this time.

Because of the personal nature of a patriarchal blessing, do not read your own patriarchal blessing to the young men or discuss it in detail. However, studying your patriarchal blessing by yourself may help you prepare for this lesson.

With approval from the bishopric, you may want to invite the patriarch to talk to the young men about patriarchal blessings for five to ten minutes. He may wish to talk about patriarchal blessings in general or about how he fulfills his calling.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Discussion

  • Have you ever wished that the Lord would give you some direction in your personal life?

  • How does the Lord give us personal revelation about our lives? (Through the scriptures, prayer, the Holy Ghost, parents, Church leaders, and patriarchal blessings.)

Explain that we are children of God. When we left our heavenly home to come to earth, Heavenly Father did not forget us. Rather, he wants to bless us and guide us to return to him. Through the patriarchs God has called, he gives us personal revelation for our guidance and comfort in this life. This revelation is called a patriarchal blessing.

A Patriarchal Blessing Is a Personal Revelation from Heavenly Father

Quiz

Give each young man a piece of paper and a pencil; then give the following quiz to determine what the young men know about patriarchal blessings. Have them number from one to twelve and then write either true or false as you read each statement.

  1. 1.

    One purpose of a patriarchal blessing is to tell you what the Lord expects of you. (True.)

  2. 2.

    You need to receive only one patriarchal blessing in your life. (True.)

  3. 3.

    A patriarchal blessing declares your lineage. (True.)

  4. 4.

    The only difference between a patriarchal blessing and a blessing your father might give you is that they are given by different people. (False.)

  5. 5.

    Unless the patriarch knows you personally, he cannot give you a very detailed blessing. (False.)

  6. 6.

    You must be at least nineteen years old to receive a patriarchal blessing. (False, but you should have one before you enter the mission field.)

  7. 7.

    You must have a recommend from your bishop to receive a patriarchal blessing. (True.)

  8. 8.

    Fasting can help prepare you to receive a patriarchal blessing. (True.)

  9. 9.

    Any of your friends should be able to read your patriarchal blessing if they want to. (False.)

  10. 10.

    Studying your patriarchal blessing frequently can inspire you to live a better life and to reach your goals in life. (True.)

  11. 11.

    You cannot always tell how your patriarchal blessing will be fulfilled. (True.)

  12. 12.

    Your patriarchal blessing will come to pass regardless of what you do. (False.)

Discussion

After giving the quiz, reread each statement, and discuss the young men’s answers. The following material is meant to help you respond to each statement. You do not need to use all of the material. You may want to have the young men present some of it.

  1. 1.

    One purpose of a patriarchal blessing is to tell you what the Lord expects of you. (True.)

    Quotation

    Elder LeGrand Richards stated: “If we understand where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going, then we are more likely to reach the desired port. That is really the purpose of a patriarchal blessing, to be able to interpret and reveal to us, through the inspiration of the Almighty, why we are here and what is expected of us” (“Patriarchal Blessings,” New Era, Feb. 1977, p. 4).

    Explain that not only does a patriarchal blessing promise us blessings, it also identifies our talents and potential, and gives us prophetic counsel, warning, and guidance.

  2. 2.

    You need to receive only one patriarchal blessing in your life. (True.)

    Quotation

    In 1947, the First Presidency wrote to all stake presidents that “all such blessings are recorded and generally one such blessing should be adequate for each person’s life” (in Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], p. 558).

  3. 3.

    A patriarchal blessing declares your lineage. (True.)

    Quotation, scripture, and discussion

    Lineage means “descent in a line from a common progenitor” (Daniel H. Ludlow, “The House of Israel,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, p. 52).

    Read and discuss Abraham 2:9–10. Explain that as members of the Church we have the right to receive all the blessings of the gospel if we live worthily. Only the literal descendants of Abraham have this right by birth. However, some members of the Church who are not directly descended from Abraham are adopted into a tribe of Israel because they have accepted the true gospel (see Galatians 3:26–29).

  4. 4.

    The only difference between a patriarchal blessing and a blessing your father might give you is that they are given by different people. (False.)

    Quotation

    President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “A faithful father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood may bless his own children, and that would be a patriarchal (father’s) blessing. Such a blessing could be recorded in the family records, but it would not be preserved in the archives of the Church. Every father who is true to this priesthood is a patriarch over his own house. In addition, children may receive a blessing by an ordained patriarch. A father blessing his own child could, if he received the inspiration to do so, declare the lineage of the child” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56], 3:172).

    Explain that a father would usually not declare lineage, although he has that right if he is inspired to do so, while an ordained patriarch nearly always declares lineage. Also, only the blessing given by the ordained patriarch will be recorded by the Church. When each Aaronic Priesthood holder receives his patriarchal blessing, he will receive his own written copy of it. Should he ever lose it, he can get another copy from the Church’s Historical Department.

  5. 5.

    Unless the patriarch knows you personally, he cannot give you a very detailed blessing. (False.)

    Story

    Explain that patriarchal blessings come from the Lord, not from the patriarch. Elder LeGrand Richards told the following story to illustrate this point.

    “I was visiting a patriarch a while ago. He told about a blessing he gave to a woman who came to him from one of the missions. Among other things he told her that her progenitors had made a great contribution to the bringing forth of the gospel in these latter days. And after the blessing was given she said, ‘I’m afraid you made a mistake this time. I am a convert to the Church; I am the first one of my family to join the Church.’

    “‘Well,’ the patriarch said, ‘I don’t know anything about it. All I know is that I felt prompted to say that to you.’ And when he told me the story, she had just been in the genealogical library and had found that some of her relatives—her grandparents or her great-grandparents—had made great sacrifices in the early days of the Church. … She found that she was descended from some of the early pioneers. The patriarch did not know of it himself. He had spoken by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost” (“Patriarchal Blessings,” p. 6).

  6. 6.

    You must be at least nineteen years old to receive a patriarchal blessing. (False, but you should have one before you enter the mission field.)

    Quotation

    President Ezra Taft Benson counseled young men to get their patriarchal blessings while still in the Aaronic Priesthood:

    “I would encourage you brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood to 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. Young men, receive your patriarchal blessing under the influence of fasting and prayer, and then read it regularly that you may know God’s will for you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, p. 56; or Ensign, May 1986, pp. 43–44).

  7. 7.

    You must have a recommend from your bishop to receive a patriarchal blessing. (True.)

    When a person feels that he is ready to receive a patriarchal blessing, he should talk with his bishop or branch president.

  8. 8.

    Fasting can help prepare you to receive a patriarchal blessing. (True.)

    Quotation

    “Those who seek patriarchal blessings … should seek 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. … The unclean or disobedient person should cleanse himself, and learn obedience before going to the patriarch” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1943], 1:75).

    Young man report

    Have the previously assigned young man tell how he prepared to receive his patriarchal blessing. If none of the young men has received a patriarchal blessing, tell the young men how you prepared for your own patriarchal blessing.

    Discussion

    • What else can each of us do to prepare to receive a patriarchal blessing? (Answers might include studying the gospel to strengthen our desire to receive the Lord’s blessings and to understand better what we must do to receive them, praying that both we and the patriarch may be in tune with the Holy Spirit, striving to keep the commandments so that we will be worthy of whatever blessings the Lord has in store for us.)

  9. 9.

    Any of your friends should be able to read your patriarchal blessing if they want to. (False.)

    Explain that patriarchal blessings are personal and sacred. They should be kept in a safe place and not passed around or discussed too freely. They are meant for our own benefit. However, we may wish to share them with members of our family at appropriate times, as we are directed by the Spirit.

  10. 10.

    Studying your patriarchal blessing frequently can inspire you to live a better life and to reach your goals in life. (True.)

    Quotation

    “Studying your patriarchal blessing frequently, especially in times of decision or trial or depression, will quickly remind you and give you the vision of who you really are and what your relationship with God is, and especially what his will for you is. It can comfort you when you feel unloved and unworthy and inadequate or forgotten. It can point you toward your own special purpose in life” (Elaine A. Cannon, “Season of Awakening,” New Era, July 1981, p. 10).

    President Spencer W. Kimball said: “You who have your blessings, do you read them frequently? Do you pray about them to get an interpretation, or is it folded up and put in a trunk and a safe place? Make a copy of it, and put it in your pocket, and read it frequently” (in Conference Report, Korea Area Conference 1975, p. 39).

  11. 11.

    You cannot always tell how your patriarchal blessing will be fulfilled. (True.)

    Story

    President Kimball related how he learned this lesson in the following story:

    “When I was eleven years old, my father took me to the patriarch, and he gave me … some promises that if I would prove faithful would come to pass. He said, ‘You … will preach the gospel to many people, but more especially to the Lamanites. And you will see them rise and be organized.’ I was only eleven years old. How would he know what was going to befall me? He just felt the Spirit from on high, and he let his voice express the thoughts that the Lord had placed in his heart.

    “When I was nineteen years old, … I was called to the Swiss-German Mission, but as I read my patriarchal blessing, I realized that there were no Indians in Switzerland or in Germany, and I came back to the United States because of the First World War. There were many places where I could have preached the gospel to Indians. There were probably 60,000,000 Indians in America. But I was sent to Missouri. … I spent two and a half years in Missouri and went home without seeing a single Indian. Being a rather human person, I said to myself, ‘I guess the patriarch must have made a mistake.’ And then I went to work at home after I was married and my family began to come. There weren’t any Indians there. … And then I was called to be one of the Twelve Apostles and to move to Salt Lake City. And again I wondered. I was now forty-eight years old. I had never preached to any Indians.

    “But soon after I came to Salt Lake City, the President of the Church invited me into his office and asked me to serve on the committee for the Lamanites. And a little later he called me again and said, ‘I want you to be the chairman of the Indian program.’ At last my patriarchal blessing was to be fulfilled.

    “The patriarch didn’t say how long it would be, so I just needed to wait and magnify my calling. … Perhaps none of the brethren have visited more or preached to more Indians than I have in all of America. Now I am not boasting. I am just telling you that the blessings of the patriarch will be fulfilled if we do our duty, no matter how hard they are, for nothing is too hard for the Lord” (in Conference Report, Korea Area Conference 1975, p. 39).

  12. 12.

    Your patriarchal blessing will come to pass regardless of what you do. (False.)

    Explain that the blessings a patriarch gives are conditional. They come to us on conditions of our obedience to God and his laws. As with most blessings from the Lord, we must live worthily to receive them.

    Quotation

    Elder Carlos E. Asay used the following analogy to describe a patriarchal blessing:

    “When a stake patriarch places his hand upon your head, gives you a blessing, and inspires you with pronounced prophecies and promises, an exciting beginning has been made. It is left to you to keep those prophecies and promises riveted in your mind—regarding them as attainable goals—and proceed forward with righteous living and faithful service so that you might draw claim upon the related blessings.

    “By way of illustration, the patriarch stands with you at the starter’s gate. He envisions for you the race that lies ahead. With the aid of his special gifts, he outlines the rules of the contest, he describes the challenges that will be faced, and he cites the laurels that may be won. However, you, the runner, must stay in the marked lane, abide the rules, cover the course, and cross the finish line if you expect to receive the victor’s prize” (“Write Your Own Blessing,” New Era, Oct. 1981, p. 4).

Conclusion

Quotation

President Spencer W. Kimball said: “I have a 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; italics added).

Challenge

Challenge each young man to do one of the following things:

  1. 1.

    To prepare himself to receive his patriarchal blessing at an appropriate time, if he has not already received it.

  2. 2.

    If he has received his blessing, to go home and read it. He should study it frequently and strive to live worthy to receive the promised blessings.