The Savior instituted the holy priesthood ordinance of the sacrament to help us remember His great atoning sacrifice and to keep His commandments. He commanded us to meet together often to partake of the sacrament. During the sacrament we partake of the bread and water in remembrance of His flesh and His blood that were given for our benefit. We renew our sacred covenants with Heavenly Father as we partake of the sacrament.
Following the Last Supper and before His crucifixion, Jesus was gathered with His Apostles in an upstairs room. He knew that He would soon die; He also knew this would be His last opportunity to be with His Apostles during His mortal life. He wanted them to always remember Him; He also wanted them to be strong and faithful to His teachings. He introduced the sacrament by breaking bread into pieces and blessing it. He said, “Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I give a ransom for you.” Next he took a cup of wine, blessed it, and passed it to His Apostles to drink. He said, “Drink ye all of it. For this is in remembrance of my blood … which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins” (Inspired Version, Matt. 26:22-24. See also King James Version, Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-23; Luke 22:15-20).
After His resurrection, Jesus Christ came to the Americans and appeared to the Nephites. He taught them the same ordinances as He had taught previously (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 18:1-11). He taught the same ordinances in the latter days when He restored His gospel to the earth; He commanded His people once again to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of him. “It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:75).
Modern scriptures explain exactly how the sacrament is to be administered. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet together each Sabbath Day to worship God and to partake of the sacrament (Doctrine and Covenants 20:75). The sacrament is administered by those holding the necessary priesthood authority. A priest or elder breaks the bread into pieces, kneels, and blesses the bread (Doctrine and Covenants 20:76). The bread is then passed to the members of the Church, usually by deacons but other priesthood bearers can assist. The priest or elder then blesses the water, which is then passed to the members.
When Jesus Christ introduced the sacrament, he used wine; however, in a modern revelation, He explained that it does not matter what we eat or drink during the sacrament as long as we remember Him (Doctrine and Covenants 27:2-3). In the Church today, water is used instead of wine. I am grateful for this change, particularly for parents of little children.
The ordinance of the sacrament is performed very simply and very reverently. In fact, Jesus Christ gave the exact words that are to be used for blessing the bread and the water. The beautiful prayers explain the covenants we make very well. When we listen to the prayers we know exactly what we are promising and what blessings are extended to us.
The prayer over the bread is as follows: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in the remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77).
The prayer over the water is similar but different: “O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine [water] to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in the remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:79).
We renew sacred covenants with the Lord every time we partake of the sacrament. A covenant is a sacred promise between the Lord and His children. The sacramental prayers clearly state the covenants we make; therefore, it is important for us to know and understand what the covenants are and what they mean.
The first promise we make is to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. This means that we are willing to be identified with Him and His Church. We promise to never do anything that would bring shame or reproach upon His name.
The second promise we make is to remember Jesus Christ. We should allow Him to influence all of our thoughts, words, and actions and to assist in performing His work.
The third promise we make is to keep all of His commandments.
We take these three obligations upon ourselves when we are baptized (see Doctrine and Covenants 2:37; Mosiah 18:6-10); we renew our baptismal covenants when we partake of the sacrament. We can put ourselves in perfect harmony with the Lord by partaking worthily of His sacrament (see 3 Nephi 18:1-12).
The Lord has promised that we can receive “the remission of [our] sins (Inspired Version, Matthew 26:24) by partaking of the sacrament worthily. He also promises that we can always have His Spirit to be with us if we keep our covenants. When we are guided by the Spirit, we can have the knowledge, faith, power, and righteousness to gain eternal life.
We should prepare ourselves to participate in the ordinance of the sacrament. We must repent of our sins before partaking of the sacrament. “If any have trespassed, let him not partake until he makes reconciliation” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:4). Leaders are instructed, “Ye shall not suffer anyone knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it. For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul” (3 Nephi 18:28-29).
We do not need to be perfect to partake of the sacrament, but we must have the spirit of repentance in our hearts. Our attitude during the sacrament service should be one of worship and reverence. We should clear our minds of all worldly thoughts. We should think about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and be grateful for it. We should be prayerful. We should examine our lives and look for areas where we can become better. We should renew our commitment to live our covenants and keep the commandments.
We should understand that our attitude while partaking of the sacrament will influence our experience with the ordinance. If we partake of the sacrament with a pure heart, we can receive the blessings promised by the Lord.