As I mention in my post on the mission application timeline, if you have not received your patriarch blessing by the time you begin to fill out your missionary paper work, you should make arrangements at that time to get it. Missionaries are required, per the instructions in the mission call letter, to receive a patriarchal blessing before they serve a full time mission.
What is a Patriarchal Blessing?
A patriarchal blessing is a special blessing given to worthy members of the LDS Church by ordained patriarchs. Patriarchal blessings contain personal counsel from the Lord which a person can use throughout his or her life as well as a declaration of a person’s lineage in the house of Israel. As a person studies his or her patriarchal blessing and follows the counsel it contains, it will provide guidance, comfort, and protection.
Every Mormon can receive a patriarchal blessing once in their lifetime. There is no set age, but it is frequently done when the person is a teenager or soon after being baptized if they are an adult convert to the Church. The requirements for receiving a patriarchal blessing are that the person should be worthy and that they should be old enough to understand the significance of it. The blessing is considered highly personal, and recipients are counseled not share their blessings with people outside of family members.
Importance of Patriarchal Blessings
A patriarchal blessing can reveal talents and strengths which the person should develop during life. Often, individuals receive guidance about weaknesses or temptations they may face. Sometimes prophecies may be made regarding the person’s life, and generally other blessings are promised which are contingent upon the faith and obedience of the individual.
The ancient apostle Paul wrote about patriarchs (he referred to them as “evangelists”) and the purpose and importance of patriarchal blessings in Ephesians 4:11-15
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
James E. Faust Talk on Patriarchal Blessings
“As moved upon by the Holy Spirit, the patriarch declares by inspiration the lineage in the house of Israel of the recipient, together with such blessings, spiritual gifts, promises, advice, admonition, and warnings the patriarch feels inspired to give. The patriarchal blessing is, in essence, a prophetic blessing and utterance.
“A patriarchal blessing from an ordained patriarch can give us a star to follow, which is a personal revelation from God to each individual. If we follow this star, we are less likely to stumble and be misled. Our patriarchal blessing will be an anchor to our souls, and if we are worthy, neither death nor the devil can deprive us of the blessings pronounced. They are blessings we can enjoy now and forever.
As with many other blessings, patriarchal blessings should ordinarily be requested by the one desiring the blessing. Responsibility for receiving a patriarchal blessing rests primarily on the individual when he or she has sufficient understanding of the significance of a patriarchal blessing. I encourage all members of the Church having this maturity to become worthy and obtain their blessings. By their very nature, all blessings are conditional on worthiness, regardless of whether the blessing specifically spells out the qualifications. The patriarchal blessing is primarily a guide to the future, not an index to the past. Therefore, it is important that the recipient be young enough that many of the significant events of life are in the future.
…Patriarchal blessings should be read humbly, prayerfully, and frequently. A patriarchal blessing is very sacred and personal, but it may be shared with close family members. It is a sacred guideline of counsel, promises, and information from the Lord; however, a person should not expect the blessing to detail all that will happen to him or her or to answer all questions. The fact that one’s patriarchal blessing may not mention an important event in life, such as a mission or marriage, does not mean that it will not happen. In order to receive the fulfillment of our patriarchal blessings, we should treasure in our hearts the precious words they contain, ponder them, and so live that we will obtain the blessings in mortality and a crown of righteousness in the hereafter.” From Priesthood Blessings by James E. Faust
Patriarchal Blessings: Video from October 2011 General Conference
The following is a video montage and transcript of words and testimonies from the living apostles during the October 2011 General Conference regarding patriarchal blessings:
President Boyd K. Packer, Counsel to Youth
“Against the certainty that I would be drafted, I joined the air force. Soon I was in Santa Ana, California, for preflight training. I did not then have a firm testimony that the gospel was true, but I knew that my seminary teachers, Abel S. Rich and John P. Lillywhite, knew it was true. I had heard them testify, and I believed them. I thought to myself, “I will lean on their testimonies until I gain one of my own.” And so it was.
“I had heard about patriarchal blessings but had not received one. In each stake there is an ordained patriarch who has the spirit of prophecy and the spirit of revelation. He is authorized to give personal and private blessings to those who come recommended by their bishops. I wrote to my bishop for a recommend. J. Roland Sandstrom was the ordained patriarch living in the Santa Ana stake. He knew nothing about me and had never seen me before, but he gave me my blessing. In it I found answers and instruction.
“While patriarchal blessings are very private, I will share a short quote from mine: “You shall be guided through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and you shall be warned of dangers. If you heed those warnings, our Heavenly Father will bless you so that you might again be united with your loved ones. That word if, though small in print, loomed as big as the page. I would be blessed to return from the war if I kept the commandments and if I heeded the promptings of the Holy Ghost.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson, Covenants
“Some of us are the literal seed of Abraham; others are gathered into his family by adoption. The Lord makes no distinction. Together we receive these promised blessings—if we seek the Lord and obey His commandments. But if we don’t, we lose the blessings of the covenant. To assist us, His Church provides patriarchal blessings to give each recipient a vision for his or her future as well as a connection with the past, even a declaration of lineage back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Elder Robert D. Hales, Waiting upon the Lord
“We may not know when or how the Lord’s answers will be given, but in His time and His way, I testify, His answers will come. For some answers we may have to wait until the hereafter. This may be true for some promises in our patriarchal blessings and for some blessings for family members. Let us not give up on the Lord. His blessings are eternal, not temporary.”
Elder David A. Bednar, The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn
“I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories.
“As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.”