As a priesthood holder, I love to give priesthood blessings.
You want to be able to bless the child dealing with cancer that they will be cancer free. You want to be able to bless your friend who is struggling with depression and is suicidal that they will have the spirit in their life to bluster them up and take away the sadness. When you see a terrible accident and you run to help, you want to bless the injured that they will be okay.
Want to heal others
As a priesthood holder, I love to give priesthood blessings. There is something about the laying on of hands to bless someone in need that just brings happiness and the spirit into your life. It is a pure act of service to someone else without any expectation of return.
With all that said, there is still a part of priesthood blessings I struggle with. When a priesthood holder gives a blessing, it is almost always to someone in need. Whether it is a sick child, a depressed family member, an injured stranger, or someone who is spiritually struggling, the person requesting the blessing is in need of some form of help. As the person giving the blessing, you want to be that person that calls down the power of heaven to help that person. You want to be able to bless the child dealing with cancer that they will be cancer free. You want to be able to bless your friend who is struggling with depression and is suicidal that they will have the spirit in their life to bluster them up and take away the sadness. When you see a terrible accident and you run to help, you want to bless the injured that they will be okay.
So with all that love, kindness, and empathy, when you go to give the blessing, sometimes you wonder, are the words I am speaking truly guided by the spirit? Are the words I am speaking the desires of my own heart that may not be in alignment with God’s will for this person? I have asked myself these questions in the midst of giving blessings to someone. I have thought mid-blessing, is what I am saying true? Do I believe it? Do I have the faith needed to seal this blessing on someone’s head?
Avoiding Personal Bias
So how do I make sure my personal bias in wanting to help someone does not override receiving inspiration and guidance from the spirit in blessing someone. President Lorenzo Snow is quoted as saying, “We should bring our wills into subjection to the will of the Father, and feel to say, what is the will of our Father, whom we are here in the world to serve? Then every act that we perform will be a success.”
Additionally, Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that “the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”
In further searching for guidance and answers on how I am to follow God’s will when I perform a blessing for the sick, I ran across a talk given by Dennis L. Lythgoe titled “Giving Priesthood Blessings”. In his talk, Dennis Lythgoe shared some great insight. He shared that with the opportunity to give priesthood blessings also “comes the great need to act through faith and inspiration: ‘And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up.’ (James 5:14–15.).”
So priesthood holders need to act through faith and inspiration. Dennis Lythgoe then goes on to share a couple great stories about following Heavenly Father’s will in giving priesthood blessing.
Faith is a central factor in the blessing
Here is an excerpt of the first story he shares:
A powerful experience in my own life involved an impressive Maori lady in New Zealand when I served a mission there. Seriously ill, she was taken to the hospital to have an operation. It was doubtful that she would survive, because of her weight and her advanced age.
She requested that I bless her, saying: “I know I’ll be all right if you’ll give me a blessing, Elder!” I sensed deeply the responsibility, and prayed at her bedside before assuming it. Then a blessing came to her through me that surprised both my companion and me by its positive nature—and I worried, fearing that I had been carried away by my own desire for her recovery. She held my hand and said, “Thank you. I’ll see you at church next Sunday.”
I did not believe her. Yet the operation was successful and her recovery complete—and she did attend testimony meeting the following Sunday. Though physically weak, she stood to eloquently thank the Lord for helping her at a critical hour. In this instance, her faith was a central factor in the blessing.
Sometimes the Lord's desires differ from ours
However, Dennis Lythgoe also shares that Heavenly Father’s will may not always be to bless someone to get better. In another story, Dennis Lythgoe shares:
It is important for us to remember, however, that sometimes the Lord’s desires differ from ours. As his agents in the performance of priesthood duties, it is mandatory that we be receptive to his inspiration. A missionary I knew had a sobering experience giving a blessing. He was working on a renovation project at a branch chapel in New Zealand. The branch president, who was doing some repairs on the roof, lost his footing and fell to the pavement below. Immediately the missionary ran to his side and pronounced a powerful blessing, promising him life and complete restoration to health. A few minutes later, the branch president died.
Greatly disillusioned, the missionary went to his apartment and wrote three letters: one to his mission president, one to his bishop, and one to the president of the Church. The letters outlined his disenchantment with the priesthood and his intention to abandon his missionary service. Then he went to bed.
After worrying, struggling, and praying intermittently throughout the night, he gradually came to understand that the Lord’s will had been done—and that he needed to seek the inspiration and guidance of the Lord earnestly before undertaking any administration.
I don’t know even after reading some great talks and pondering on this matter that I have entirely come to a conclusion. However, there are a few things I have learned. 1) We must always be prepared so that we are worthy to give a blessing when the time comes. 2) We must have faith that Heavenly Father will direct us as we give the blessings. 3) We must be willing to accept Heavenly Father’s will whether it be to heal the person, allow the person to learn and grow from a trial, or even let the person go from this life to return to their Heavenly Father’s presence. While people may still have questions and struggle with aligning their will with Heavenly Father’s, as we strive to do so we will be able to call down the powers of heaven.