Chapter 17: Patriarchal Blessings

As a nervous fifteen-year-old young man, I nervously walked up to the door of the South Jordan Utah Stake Patriarch, Royal V. Beckstead, to receive my Patriarchal Blessing.  I had prepared for several months by trying to live the gospel the best a fifteen-year-old could.  I had fasted a full twenty-four hours and had prayed for answers to specific questions.  In my hand was the recommend from my Bishop.  Knowing the importance of being prepared for this experience, I was as ready as I could be--but still very nervous.  My mind was swimming with the possibilities of what would be said in the blessing.  My greatest fear was that there would be nothing said--that I wouldn’t have a purpose to my life or wasn’t worthy to receive the answers I was seeking.

My parents were with me as we entered the home of this smiling older gentleman that was to be a mouthpiece for the Lord that night.  His demeanor made the situation more comfortable as we talked for a few moments before the blessing began.  What then took place was one of the greatest spiritual experiences of my life.  A blessing from the Father directed to me that was both personal and intimate.  Questions were answered, love expressed, cautions given, and purpose imparted.  It laid a sure foundation of testimony and direction for my life.

Joseph Fielding Smith wrote, “A blessing given by a patriarch is intended to point out the path which the recipient should travel.  It should be given by the spirit of revelation and should be a great comfort and incentive to the recipient to continue on in faithfulness to the end” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, p. 170).  I can truly testify that the blessing given many years ago to a fifteen-year-old boy has been a guide, a comfort, and an incentive to “continue on” through both good and difficult times.  The reading and prayerfully pondering of my blessing has given me insight, patience, and hope as I have faced the difficulties of life.  I value and hold sacred the words of my patriarchal blessing as personal scripture.

President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “Jesus knows that His kingdom will triumph, and He wants you to triumph with it.  He knows in advance every strategy the enemy will use against you and the kingdom.  He knows your weaknesses and He knows your strengths.  By personal revelation you may discover some of your strengths through a careful and prayerful study of your patriarchal blessing” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 214). 

Counsel given to me several years ago added further insight into my understanding of my patriarchal blessing.  Since our blessings are personal scripture, I was directed to “cross-reference” my blessing with the scriptures.  It was a time consuming exercise in scripture study, but truly a wonderful learning experience.  I made a copy of my blessing and then took key words from each paragraph of my blessing and looked them up in the topical guide.  I then would read the listed scriptures until I found one that was similar in usage or touched me with its meaning.  This scripture was then listed in the margin of the copy near the key word for later reference.  This process opened new vistas of truth, enlightening me to a greater understanding of the message of my patriarchal blessing.

Another way I increased my understanding was to recognize the three phases of the plan of salvation within my blessing.  By identifying sentences about my pre-mortal existence, post-mortal existence, and specifics for this earth life, I increased in understanding of my station and purpose and magnified the truth of who I really am.   

President Benson stated, “I would encourage you brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood [and young women] to receive a patriarchal blessing.  Study it carefully and regard it as personal revelation 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” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 214).

A patriarchal blessing is personal revelation available to each of us.  Patriarchal blessings help us learn the truth about ourselves.  It is our responsibility to prayerfully read it to receive the direction we need to fulfill our life’s mission and to avoid the pitfalls that will take us off course.  A patriarchal blessing is our opportunity to learn first hand Heavenly Father’s confidence in us.  Let each of us receive, and then treat sacred, this gift of love from our Father in Heaven.