Lehi and his family left
and went into the wilderness in 600
B.C. in order to save their lives. One
morning as they awoke to continue their travels through the wilderness, Lehi
found a strange object on the ground in front of his tent door. The object was "a round ball of curious
workmanship" made of "fine brass," and they called it the
"Liahona." "Within the
ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way" that Lehi should take
his family. Lehi followed the directions
given on the ball and was led "in the most fertile parts of the
The family learned that the "pointers, which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them." The writing was "plain to be read" and gave "understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things" (Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 10, 16, 25-29).
We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father who desires to guide us and help us to return to His presence. Just as the Lord provided the Liahona to help Lehi and his family find their promised land, God also provides guides for us on our journey through life. One of those guides available to us is a patriarchal blessing. A patriarchal blessing can help us understand what the Lord expects of us and can motivate us to live for the promised blessings.
President Ezra Taft Benson counseled, "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…. 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 Ensign, May 1986, 43-44).
Lehi's Liahona was a kind of compass, which showed them the way they should go, and it operated according to their faithfulness and obedience. A patriarchal blessing is also a type of compass, which can show our way through life, and it operates according to our faithfulness and obedience. A patriarchal blessing is a personalized compass or Liahona that is a gift from Heavenly Father, works according to faith, and leads us in the right direction.
President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency stated: "The same Lord who provided a Liahona to Lehi provides for you and for me today a rare and valuable gift to give direction to our lives, to mark the hazards to our safety, and to chart the way, even safe passage - not to a promised land, but to our heavenly home. The gift to which I refer is known as your patriarchal blessing. Every worthy member of the Church is entitled to receive such a precious and priceless personal treasure" (in Ensign, Nov. 12986, 65).
A patriarchal blessing is an inspired blessing, which declares a person's lineage or the tribe of
to which we belong, and gives insight about our individual lives. It may include promises of blessings we may
receive, warnings about particular temptations or weaknesses, or counsel about
how we should live. We receive only one
patriarchal blessing, and we must receive it through a stake patriarch. The blessing is recorded; one copy is given
to the person and one copy is kept in the archives of the Church. It is a sacred and personal
document that should be read and studied often but should not be shared
casually with others. Israel
President Monson said: "Your patriarchal blessing is yours and yours alone. It may be brief or lengthy, simple or profound. Length and language do not a patriarchal blessing make. It is the Spirit that conveys the true meaning. Your blessing is not to be folded neatly and tucked away. It is not to be framed or published. Rather, it is to be read. It is to be loved. It is to be followed. Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life's dangers" (in Ensign, Nov. 1986, 66).
Any worthy member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can receive a patriarchal blessing when he or she is old enough to understand the opportunities and responsibilities that accompany it. Patriarchal blessings are given by stake patriarchs who are priesthood holders ordained to the office of patriarch.
President Joseph F. Smith, sixth President of the Church, said, "It is [a stake patriarch's] business and right to bestow blessings upon the people, to make promises unto them in the name of the Lord, … by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to comfort them in the hours of sorrow and trouble, to strengthen their faith by the promise that shall be made to them through the Spirit of God" (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 181).
Members of the Church should seek a patriarchal blessing in order to know God's will, promises, and warnings for that particular individual. Elder John A. Widtsoe, a former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated: "Those who seek patriarchal blessings should ask for them with faith in the reality of the power of the Priesthood. They 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." (See Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham, 3 vols. in 1 , 323).
A patriarchal blessing is given when a person is mature enough spiritually to appreciate the significance of the blessing and desires to receive it. People often receive a patriarchal blessing during their teenage years, when they are old enough to understand the importance of the blessing yet young enough to use it as a guide in making important decisions in life. Teenagers should counsel with their parents regarding when it would be appropriate for them to receive a patriarchal blessing.
The usefulness of the Liahona was dependent on the faith and righteousness of Lehi and his family. When there was contention or harshness among the members of the family, the Liahona stopped working. Patriarchal blessings are similarly conditional on faith and righteousness. We can receive the promised blessings only when we follow the counsel and commandments given by the Lord and his servants. We must also realize that the promises made in a patriarchal blessing may not all be fulfilled during our earth life. If we are righteous, however, we will eventually receive all the blessings promised us.
Elder John A. Widtsoe, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated: "Men [and women] have stumbled at times because promised blessings have not occurred in this life. They have failed to remember that, in the gospel, life with all its activities continues forever and that the labors of earth may be continued in heaven" (Evidences and Reconciliations, 323).
A patriarchal blessing will not answer every question about our lives. Patriarchal blessings vary widely in length and detail; some are very long and some are quite short. Through the patriarch, Heavenly Father will tell each of us what He knows we need to know. The length or detail of a patriarchal blessing is in no way an indication of the recipient's worthiness or Heavenly Father's love for him or her.
The best way to prepare to receive a patriarchal blessing is to live righteously. When we decide that the time is right to receive a patriarchal blessing, we will meet with our bishop to obtain a recommend for the blessing. After the recommend is obtained, we will make an appointment with our stake patriarch. We may take our parents or a close family member or friend with us.
Any person who will be receiving a patriarchal blessing may want to spend some time in prayer and fasting before receiving the blessing, although it is not necessary for a person to be fasting at the actual time he or she receives the blessing. Sunday dress is recommended for all those attending the blessing. Everything done in connection with the blessing should invite the Holy Ghost.
"My whole life I had heard about the importance of getting a patriarchal blessing…. To me, it was kind of frightening. What if I didn't hear anything I wanted to hear? What if there were no great promises for me? I worried about being prepared enough.
"I decided that I needed to have faith and that all would be well. I prayed many times, was interviewed by my bishop, and set up an appointment with the stake patriarch to receive my blessing. Then I waited, while trying to prepare spiritually for this important date.
"On the day I was to receive my blessing, I fasted all day. I thought I would have this super spiritual day, but Satan was working on me and I had a bad day at school. I was a wreck. I came home after school and paced the floor. I thought back … to when a man and a woman in our ward whom I admire told us how to prepare, suggesting that we pray for specific things we want to know.
"I went to my room, knelt beside my bed, and prayed that Heavenly Father would tell me what he knew was best for me to hear. I asked that he take away my fears and calm my troubled heart.
"Everything turned out fine. In fact, it was a personal miracle. It seemed that the patriarch knew me so completely, even better than I knew myself. I knew he was speaking for Heavenly Father, and when he spoke, I felt the assurance that Heavenly Father did know me. He heard my prayers….
"Now I know why Church leaders are always emphasizing the value of a patriarchal blessing. When we learn the worth of something and pay the price to obtain it, we begin to better understand its value. For me, my blessing and the experience of receiving it was one of the best experiences of my life. I know my patriarchal blessing will continue to guide me to fulfill its promises" (Rebecca Rose, "My Miracle," New Era, June 1995, 54).
I know that patriarchal blessings contain promises and counsel from our Heavenly Father. Once we receive our patriarchal blessing, we must study it often, follow the counsel it gives, and live worthy of receiving the blessings it promises. I am very grateful for my patriarchal blessing. I read it often and find wonderful counsel, comfort and direction from it.