Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for guidance and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“When I make a mistake in the sacrament prayer, must I start over, or can I just repeat that line?”

Answer/Brother Mark E. Hurst

The sacrament is one of the most sacred ordinances in which Church members can participate. While the ordinance itself is rather simple, its significance for those who participate—both as recipients and as officiators—is essential. The renewal each week of covenants made earlier, at the time of baptism, enables those who partake to recommit themselves to live in accordance with the example of Jesus Christ.

As an officiator at the sacrament table, worthy priests or Melchizedek Priesthood bearers who have been given this assignment are in a unique position to enhance the spiritual experience of those participating in the ordinance.

Since the sacramental prayers are actually scripture (Moro. 4:3; Moro. 5:2; D&C 20:77, 79), the Lord has given us specific instructions as to the manner of asking blessings upon the bread and the water. The worthy and reverent offering of these prayers can make a great difference in whether the ordinance of the sacrament is highly spiritual or merely perfunctory. Aaronic Priesthood curriculum materials for priest-age young men recommend memorization of the prayers. Studying and understanding the purpose of the sacrament and the significance of the prayers can also greatly improve the effectiveness of those chosen to perform the ordinance. As in most things, preparation and practice will lessen the chance of making mistakes when repeating the prayers. Even though the prayers should still be read from the cards provided (or from the scriptures), familiarization with and memorization of the prayers by those who will read them will enable the officiator to have a confidence and a knowledge that will bring reverent and spiritual offering of the prayers.

Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, however, and knowing that they can be easily corrected often brings even greater confidence and less likelihood of making mistakes. If the officiator makes a mistake and corrects it immediately, it is not necessary to repeat the entire prayer. If the mistake is not corrected by the officiator, it is the responsibility of the bishop to sensitively and without embarrassment direct that the prayer be repeated.

Partaking of the sacrament is one of the most important purposes of the sacrament meeting. In addition to the importance of the ordinance itself, it is here that the atmosphere for the remainder of the sacrament meeting is set. It prepares those in attendance to be in tune with the Spirit and to more fully benefit from the gospel teachings that should follow. Those who officiate at the sacrament table should do so with a sense of great reverence for the blessings they assist in bringing to those who partake of the sacrament.

Executive Secretary, Young Men General Presidency

“As a deacon, I would like to know if there is some particular significance in the order of bread and water in the sacrament. If I find someone who missed the bread, would it be all right for him to have the water first, or should I return for bread?”

Answer/Brother E. Kent Pulsipher

You asked an important question about a sacred subject. It indicates that, as a deacon, you are approaching your ordained office and duties with insight and inspired promptings. It is wonderful when the receivers of the Aaronic Priesthood feel deeply the importance of the Lord’s errand they are on.

Aaronic Priesthood brethren properly preparing, passing, and blessing the emblems of the sacrament can be a great motivational image to the younger members of the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ personally instituted the sacrament during the evening of the Last Supper (Matt. 26:26–28). This noteworthy event briefly preceded his crucifixion and resurrection. Sacrificial offerings were ended and replaced by the offering of a broken heart and contrite spirit. New covenants were instituted, to be effected at the time of repentance and baptism and renewed while partaking of the sacrament bread and water each week (D&C 20:71–74). These covenants include a recognition of the sacrifice of Christ in shedding blood and suffering in the flesh, taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ, and witnessing that we remember him always and keep his commandments which he has given us (D&C 20:76–79). A promised consequence is, “that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.”

Regarding the procedure, in 3 Nephi 18 the Lord enters into some detail as to the order and format of the ordinance [3 Ne. 18]:

“And it came to pass that Jesus commanded His disciples that they should bring forth some bread and wine unto him.

“… He took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat.

“And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude.” … He commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it (3 Ne. 18:1, 3, 4, 8).

Though emphasis is placed on the renewing of our souls and covenant making, the order and procedure as outlined by the Lord should be followed. “And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done” (3 Ne. 18:6). The perfect order of the ordinance is emphasized by the Prophet Joseph Smith when he received by revelation the “precise” day upon which the Church would be organized (D&C 20, preface). This section and other scriptures also provide the exact words of the sacrament prayers (D&C 20:77, 79; Moro. 4:3, Moro. 5:2) and the order in which the bread and wine (later water) were to be administered. Perhaps the slight difference in wording between the two prayers suggests a progressive commitment. The blessing on the bread says, “that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son.” The blessing on the water reads, “that they do always remember him.”

This sacred part of our worship experience, if carried out properly, will not only bless our lives as youth, but will prepare us for additional “precise” covenants and ordinances to be experienced in the temples of the Lord and will identify us as “disciples of Christ.”

Bishop, Sandy 20th Ward Sandy Utah East Stake

“How can I get along better with my missionary companion?”

Answer/Brother Joe J. Christensen

Getting along well with your missionary companions is without doubt one of the most important achievements you need to accomplish in your mission. Here are some suggestions that can help you improve your relationship with your companion:

  1. 1.

    Commit yourself to serve your companion. One of the surest ways to develop love for someone else is to serve in very personal ways. Two companions who had had some difficulties in getting along discovered this principle when one of them became ill and had to be in bed for a day. Elder Blake did everything he could to help care for his sick companion. Elder Waite was especially surprised when he woke up and found that during the time that he was running a fever and sleeping, Elder Blake had cleaned and shined his shoes and also made sure that everything was in order in their apartment. “I began to realize,” said Elder Waite, “that I needed to do more to be of service to my companion. Appreciation for each other and a real friendship began to develop from that day on.”

  2. 2.

    Study and pray together each day. There is great strength in the message of the gospel. If companions are daily studying the scriptures and the great principles of the gospel in an attitude of prayer, it is much easier to overcome any differences that may exist. When you pray individually, and especially with your companion, remember to thank your Heavenly Father for the great privilege you feel it is to have the opportunity of serving with a person with as many fine qualities as your companion possesses. Pray that you may overcome differences and get along well.

  3. 3.

    Learn to communicate about differences in a positive way. Remember that we all have shortcomings and some personal peculiarities that may make it difficult for others to adjust to us. There has only been one perfect person who ever lived in this world, and that of course is the Savior. All the rest of us are imperfect. We should recognize from the beginning that there will be some differences and that we will need to be ready to work diligently to overcome them. Missionary companions are counseled to have “companion inventories” regularly in which they are encouraged in a very positive and open way to communicate and to discuss ways in which they can improve their relationships. “What can I do to be a better companion to you?” is a very good question that you should regularly ask your companion.

  4. 4.

    Commit yourself to live up to all that is expected of a missionary. If you are living the correct principles, then there is never an excuse for your companion to be negative toward you because you are not following the missionary rules. Real strain is placed on a companion who is assigned to another who is not positively committed to the work. One missionary wrote home and said, “Things are not going very well out here these days because I can’t get my companion to get out of bed in the morning and really work.” Make sure your companions can never say anything like that about you and you will strengthen your relationships.

Missionaries who learn to get along well with their companions develop skill in coping with a wide variety of different personalities. This experience not only helps them to be successful missionaries, but long after their mission the same skills will help them to be successful in their work, in Church service, and especially in their own marriages and families.

Everyone is blessed when missionaries learn to get along well with each other. Remember that the Spirit will not continue to be present in an atmosphere of contention and dissension and, without the Spirit, missionaries will not be successful.

Former President, Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah