Do you believe in Priesthood Blessings?

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In the July 2012 edition of the Ensign, there is an article by Elder Dallen H Oaks. http://www.lds.org/liahona/2012/07/the-importance-of-priesthood-blessings?lang=eng&query=blessings+comfort
In the article, he talks about the different kinds of priesthood blessings. For this post, I would like to focus on Blessings of Comfort or Counsel. The article describes them this way:

“Persons desiring guidance in an important decision can receive a priesthood blessing. Persons who need extra spiritual power to overcome a personal challenge can receive a blessing. Priesthood blessings are often requested from fathers before children leave home for various purposes, such as school, service in the military, or a long trip.

Blessings given in circumstances such as I have just described are sometimes called blessings of comfort or counsel. They are usually given by fathers or husbands or other elders in the family. They can be recorded and kept in family records for the personal spiritual guidance of the persons blessed.”

Part of the article is also very specific that blessings of comfort or counsel, should be requested by the individual receiving the blessing. So, I am curious about your experiences with blessings of this type. Since many people who were raised in the church are likely to have had a number of these blessings, I am curious which of these statements fit your experience:

I have never had a blessing of the kind described above.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it helpful in making a decision.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me peace and acceptance of a situation.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found it brought me strength during a difficult trial.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised me that happened.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific but still helpful with a coming school year, decision, or endeavor in my life.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that there were specific things promised to me that did not happen.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found that the contents of the blessing brought guilt or feelings of discomfort.

I have received the kind of blessing described above, I found the blessing to be non-specific and unhelpful with whatever I was struggling with.

Every (or almost every) blessing I received was at my request.

Some of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were not at my request.

All of the blessings I received were inspired, and I felt increased influence of the Lord as a result.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, and most of them brought an increase in faith.

Some of the blessings I received were inspired, but most of them did not bring an increase in faith.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and did not have much impact on my testimony.

Most of the blessings I received were not inspired and negatively impacted my testimony.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and decreased my faith.

Some or all of the blessings I received brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and led to me completely losing my faith.

I tried to include the variety of experiences I or friends have had, but I am sure I missed some questions. What would you have added to the list?

I realize that many people will have had a variety of experiences that fall into several categories, so I doubt that many people will have only one answer. I can say that I have both had blessings that brought feelings of unrighteous dominion and impacted my testimony in a negative way. I have also had profoundly strengthening blessings, that gave me hope in the middle of difficult trials, and the specific promises of the blessings which happened afterwards, to be an important part of my testimony as an adult.

I am curious about specific experiences that were definitive in your life. For me, during a particularly difficult period with a husband (who I am no longer married to), I requested a blessing from my step-father. The specific information about the needs of my children, and the supports that I should look for as I moved forward to protect myself, were extremely helpful. The fact that my mother took notes while the blessing was being given, and I had those notes to go back to, helped me to keep the promises of the blessing in the forefront of my mind. I have never had an actual recording of a blessing, but until I read this article, I hadn’t realized it was considered appropriate to do so. It is something that I will think about, and consider in the future when I am requesting a blessing.

So, what is your experience(s) with receiving blessings of comfort or counsel? Have they ever helped you, or did they feel like words that were just being said?

Have you ever recorded a blessing either with a recorder of with someone taking notes? If you did, were recorded blessings more helpful than blessings which you did not have recordings for?

Do you find blessings that are specific or more generalized more helpful?

If you have had a blessing that felt like it was simply a priesthood member exercising unrighteous dominion, did you request that/those blessing(s)?

While the main thrust of this post is to talk about experiences receiving blessings, but for those who have given them, at some point,is there anything that you do to prepare for giving this type of blessing, and if you have done specific preparation, do you find it makes a difference in the kind of blessings you give? Were there blessings you gave that you did not feel came from God?

6 thoughts on “Do you believe in Priesthood Blessings?

  1. Personally, I can see why a blessing from a trusted family member can be a great comfort, but I don’t think it has any supernatural powers. I think many of the atheists reading this site feel the same way.

    However, not everyone here is an atheist, and many probably have had interesting (positive and negative) experiences with priesthood blessings, regardless of where we’re currently at with our beliefs.

    Anyone else have an experience or perspective to add?

  2. chanson,

    The diversity of views, and I hope experiences are what I am hoping will be shared.

    I tried to give a voice to the variety of experiences I personally have had, as well as experiences I have heard others talk about. For me it was really great the first time I talked to someone else about the fact that some blessing felt true and confirmed, but blessings my biological father gave me just seemed like him using blessings as a way to try to make me, my siblings or my mother do what he wanted us to do.

    Since most people who grow up in the church minimally have a blessing when they are a baby, when they are confirmed after baptism, when they receive an advancement in the priesthood and any time they are set apart for a calling, I thought that most members and former members would at least have some thoughts on the subject.

    Julia

  3. Very true. Personally, I feel like blessings weren’t as central a part of my Mormon experience as for many other people.

    For example, preisthood blessings are very central to Emily Pearson’s memoir Dancing with Crazy. Some negative experiences with priesthood blessings (and especially too much reliance on priesthood blessings to make important life decisions) ultimately caused her to question her faith.

  4. “Priesthood blessings” of “comfort and counsel” never made sense to me, even when I was a very active Mormon. If the point was to make somebody feel better, or calmer, or more clear-headed, I always thought there were far more effective and objectively credible ways to do that.

    In all the years I was active LDS I never saw any evidence that the “priesthood” itself gave the man doing the blessing any extra insight or power to actually do anything to or for the recipient, or that any such effects from a “priesthood blessing” could not also be adequately explained as psychosomatic or auto-suggested. I never saw any such “blessing” that accurately promised or foretold any future event that ever came to pass and which could not be adequately explained as the mere result of ordinary events and choices.

    I knew of families in which it was an annual ritual for the father to give such “blessings” to all the kids at the start of each school year. I always thought this was a meaningless charade that couldn’t possibly affect school performance. So what was the point? Whether for school, or individual life challenges, or anything else like that, I never believed such “blessings” could be as effective as individual counseling, or therapy, or just good old one-on-one time with a kind and insightful and loving dad. I certainly never saw any evidence that alleged “inspiration” ever gave or enhanced any benefits to a kid beyond what those methods would have given.

  5. Two (hopefully) quick stories:

    While I’ve never been a member (there-by never receiving a blessing in the Mormon sense), Dear Lover (DL) who is ex TBM w/four kids have been members all their lives and I’ve witnessed a handful of blessings.

    Blessing #1: This was requested by his (DL’s) Dear Daughter (DD) prior to her giving birth to her son almost a year ago. It certainly brought her peace and gave her mother strength to get through the labor which ended up only lasting 3 hours before a beautiful baby boy popped out! I think her mom had a more difficult time with the labor process than she (DD) did because her mom was watching her 17-year-old, Mormon daughter give birth with no father by her side.

    Oh, and DD was pleased to announce to everyone that her water broke on its own and managed to make it about a foot over the doctors head (sorry for the graphic imagery!).

    Blessing #2: The baby was and has been just the beginning of court dates, child support/custody arrangements, statutory rape charges, restraining orders – the whole 9 yards!!! And what a pain in the a** it has been!

    Anyways, THE BLESSING part. First thing on the list was paternity suit. DD knew it was one of two guys and she asked her dad (my DL) for a blessing for it NOT TO BE the most likely person, Man #1. DL said that he COULD NOT give her a blessing saying this because it would be unrighteous dominion. In order to double check that his decision was the correct one, he consulted another Priesthood holder who agreed with him saying it would be abuse of his PH. Ultimately he gave her a blessing saying that whoever the father of her precious baby boy was, that there’s a reason for it – and only Heavenly Father knows what that reason is. And that Heavenly Father would provide guidance to know how to handle issues as they arise.

    She said that she did feel peace, strength, and comfort; like she knew everything would work out and be just fine. But she also felt that her prayers would be answered and Man #1 WOULDN’T be the dad. Well, Man #1 IS the dad.

    So, on neither of these occasions were the blessings written down. I’m in limbo w/my current belief in Heavenly Father (though much more on the Atheist side), but I do believe that love, family, group cohesion and solidarity can have an incredibly powerful impact – and in that regard, there was definitely some good feelings in the midst of us!

    ~ SoACTing

  6. I was thinking last night about blessings I have been given, that were not blessings of healing. The two categories for me seemed to end up as: blessings to calm and comfort, and blessings to direct action.

    I have had a number of blessing to calm and comfort that brought the Spirit and a sweet peace, but for the most part I don’t remember exactly what was said, and the feeling of spiritual love was the most important thing. I assume that there are other ways to have found spiritual peace; music, prayer, scripture study, or reading an inspiring book or article. Growing up in a house of conflict, I usually figured out a way to ask someone besides my father to give the blessings. (I would ask someone after a youth fireside, or a friend’s father when I was visiting or having a sleep over.)

    What were much more common in my family were blessing to direct action. Most of those blessings were not for my benefit, but were one of the ways my father tried to control me and my siblings.

    Some blessings were given at times they were considered important, so we always had them before the school year started, when we had our birthdays, when we were leaving home.

    More commonly, we were given a blessing, without asking for it, that my father felt “inspired” to give us. Almost exclusively “Heavenly Father” wanted us not only do what my father wanted us to do, but HF also wanted us to be more reverential to our parents. Often HF wanted us to be more diligent in doing our chores, homework and bringing our problems to our parents FIRST, instead of talking about those things with friends, teachers, counselors or teachers, since they didn’t have the same eternal perspective that my parents would have.

    For me, some of the most affirming blessings have actually come when I was given blessings by someone I have not known before the blessing was given. It is probably an irony that I am sure that I have had 100+ blessings (this doesn’t include blessings of healings) and there are only two that I still remember any details from. The actual experiences are personal, but both times that were significant to me were blessings that confirmed a decision I had previously made, but hadn’t talked to anyone about previously.

    Part of why I wanted to have the OP focuses on blessings of comfort, is that I know that there are a lot more very personal experiences around blessings of healing, and I think that a debate on whether the experiences are “genuine” or not, seemed like opening a can of worms.

    Thank you for your comments. I hope more people will share their experiences.

    Julia
    Poetrysansonions.blogspot.com

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