Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

The Appropriateness of Blessings

Posted by Jon on February 22, 2008

Our two boys have been sick with the flu this week. Probably the reason I’ve been wondering how soon is too soon (if there is a “too” soon?) to give a blessing, especially for the so-called “little things” in life?

Don’t get me wrong, I love giving blessings. I love receiving blessings. I love seeing the faith of those who ask to receive blessings. I whole-heartily see blessings as a fundamental part of Mormonism and the Priesthood. But when Priesthood Blessings does it go to far? Can it go to far? After all, the power of the Priesthood was given to us to use it for righteous reasons, or so I understand it.

Still, I find myself slow to react for the little things, such as a cough, a cold or a fever. My rationale is simple: If I bless my kids when something little and that we know we can cope with, where do I draw the line?

It’s funny because I never thought I’d actually be asking myself this question. On my mission I had no problem explaining the benefits of blessings to people, and even offered (the appropriate way… not solicitation) many blessings to investigators, members or less-active members. So it’s weird that I find myself asking this question.

Part of the reason this is even a question is that my children don’t know to ask. My oldest has an idea as I’ve given him a couple blessings, but my youngest, at under a year, certainly does not. As a child and throughout my life I’ve been taught that it is an act of faith to ask for a blessing. That said, I either wait to be asked or ask when I feel its needed. So with children the rules change somewhat since the onus is on the parent to ask, or act.

The simplest answer I’ve come up with is to act when I feel prompted. There is no other better way than to have the spirit direct you. The fact I was even thinking about it means I probably should have blessed him last night when the thought even entered my mind. Now that I’m feeling some clarity on the matter (and I appreciate you–the reader–letting me take you through my thought processes), I realize I got tripped up when I started thinking about what medicine to give him to bring the fever down. Or what we could do to his room to circulate more air and help him breath a little easier.

I remember hearing stories while on my mission about how amazing the miracles were that took place in certain parts of Africa. From what I was told, because the faithful LDS in many areas of Africa are without much of the modern medicine we take for granted, they rely on blessings much more than us Westerners do. Their faith in Gods power to heal is powerful and real.

In a sense, I was guilty of relying too much on “mans” assistance, as I believe many of us do, more than that of a loving Heavenly Father. For my kids sake, and mine for that matter, I hope this isn’t a mistake I’m caught repeating throughout my life.

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5 Responses to “The Appropriateness of Blessings”

  1. McDevin said

    I know exactly how you feel. I often struggle with when to give (and ask for) a blessing. I think it comes down to me not wanting to bother God with something trivial. I went to a church school and saw many situations where people would ask for blessings for things as insignificant as not knowing whether to take one class over another. For whatever reason, I found this in poor taste and have tried not to be like that in my personal relationship with requests for divine intervention.

    I suppose another reason I shy away from blessings is that there is always a part of me that is afraid that the blessing won’t work. This fear probably derives from the fact that I’ve never had an experience where I can honestly say that a priesthood blessing was the force that produced some tangible result that probably wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. I always enjoy hearing other people’s stories because other people’s experiences have served as the basis for my testimony in the power of the priesthood.

  2. Jon said

    McDevin, I can absolutely relate to what you said about attending a church school. I felt similar about some of the times I was asked to give a blessing, but on the other hand I also had respect for people who had the faith and belief that God would help them even with the little things. It is my understanding that God does leave a lot up to us to figure out, but for those moments when we can’t or feel like his assistance would be useful, I don’t see a problem asking for a blessing.

    As far as miracles, I have witnessed them. Several times even. But that’s not why I have trouble giving my children blessings. It’s for the reason you outlined… that stuff will most likely work themselves out without it so why trouble God. You summed it up with that statement (something I was unable to do in eight paragraphs). The conclusion I came to though was that it was MY lack of faith that it would even be important to God, that prevented me from acting on the feeling or question I was feeling. Much the same way I force myself to pray each night, especially if I feel so tired I just want to go to bed, I’ll act on the feeling to give my kids a blessing next time it feels relevant.

  3. Andrew said

    I think we tend to view priesthood blessings like nuclear weapons: they’re an option of last resort, and not to be taken lightly. But I wonder whether that’s the right approach. I think Heavenly Father would probably rather than we err on the side of over-blessing than under-blessing.

    McDevin, as a fellow questioner of natural causes v. priesthood causes for healing, I can tell you I’ve had an experience where I am certain it was the priesthood that healed me. Freshman year of college, I contracted a serious illness that made me absolutely exhausted; I could keep myself awake only about 4 hours per day; I am not exaggerating. The doctor told me I could expect that fatigue to last for two weeks. After 5 days of missing class and my mid-term exams, I was seriously worried about the impact this illness was having on my grades. I was being cared for in the home of some longtime family friends, and I asked their recently returned-missionary son to give me a priesthood blessing. He was and is honestly one of the most gentle, genuine, Christlike people I’ve ever known, and I had full faith and confidence in his worthiness. So that night before bed, he blessed me that I would be able to quickly return to my studies. Before retiring to bed, I remembered how Jesus often forgave people of their sins when healing them. So I got down on my knees, thought of everything I could think of that I had possibly been doing wrong, and asked for God’s forgiveness.

    The next day, all of my symptoms remained except one: the overwhelming fatigue was completely gone. Although I still felt miserable, I was at least able to remain awake for a normal day and do my schoolwork, as I had been blessed to do. For me, this experience is one of the anchors that keep me tied to the Church.

  4. Jon said

    Great thought Andrew. With God, it’s all about the erring on the side of what’s right, rather than what “may not” be right. Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Lynn Jensen said

    We are told in the scriptures to pray always, over our fields and flocks and everything. Asking for blessings is not a way of expecting God to eliminate the trials but of asking him to help us through them. I have asked for blessings before surgery and then find out that my life was in grave danger during the surgery. My recovery showed me that my Heavenly Father is watching out for me even when I’m not aware that the need is so great. Sometimes the answer to a request for blessing is “no” and we have to be ready to understand, at some time, that God has good reason to let things happen beyond our expectations. Don’t wait to ask until the need for a blessing is great. Would you not help your own children with the ‘little things’ as willingly as with ‘big things’?

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