(Note: Click here to return to the original article.)
“Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name” (D&C 20:70). In conformity with this revelation, only worthy men who hold the Melchizedek Priesthood may participate in naming and blessing children. The ordinance of naming and blessing children requires authorization from the presiding authority (Family-Guidebook from lds.org).
Those holding the Melchizedek priesthood gather around and hold the baby as described on the previous page. If the one being blessed is old enough to sit in a chair then the brethren gather around and place their hands lightly on the child’s head. Remember, we are not trying to press the child into a diamond. Lightly brethren, lightly. Their little necks can only bear so much pressure.
Below is a 3 x 5 card you can print on heavy paper or card stock and cut out to take with you as a reference. The steps listed on the card are word for word from the Church’s website.
Thank you for posting this. I have a question on one of the minor details of the blessing. Glad to hear any thoughts from you or other readers.
Is it best to address the child directly or is it best to address Heavenly Father directly? I’ve seen it done both ways, but still curious how the best way is to do it.
When giving a blessing the priesthood holder is standing in for God. The priesthood allows our Father’s sons to lay their hands on the heads of their brothers and sisters and pronounce the will of God in their behalf. That is what the priesthood is for, to bless the lives of all God’s children. That said, it seems odd to me that a priesthood holder would address God instead of the child of God that is being blessed.
Please note that giving blessings is a difficult skill to acquire. It takes practice and experience by the priesthood holder, and is a scary thing to do. There is tremendous pressure felt by the one giving the blessing, and sometimes we end up petitioning God to bless instead of pronouncing the will of God on the head of the one being blessed. If all we are going to do is ask the Lord for help, we can do that through prayer – no blessing needed. But I fully understand why some brothers do it. I hope this helps.
Thank you for the article and the reply to other questions… Can you elaborate on the verbage?
I. E. “we bless you [ name ] that you may…”
Or is it “we ask thee heavenly Father to bless [ name ] that he/she may…”
Thank you in advance for any advice.
You bring up a good point. When you bless someone you are standing in for He whose priesthood you bear. Would Jesus say, “Please Father do such and such for this person?” or would He say, “I bless you …?” It is often difficult for priesthood holders to get used to the idea of directly, and personally, blessing the individual, but that is what we are supposed to be doing. No one needs the priesthood to ask for a blessing to be given to another person. Anyone can do that. But a man who holds the priesthood should be using that authority to directly call down the blessings of heaven on the head of that individual. It is appropriate for you to say, “I bless you that …”
To be able to give blessings like this, we need to be humble and prepared to say what comes into our mind and heart at the time of the blessing. I know I have sweated bullets going into certain blessings, not having any idea beforehand what I should say. But the promise of the Lord is that when we are worthy He will send the Spirit to tell us what to say in the very moment we need to say it. Admittedly, that takes practice and a lot of it. Some have a gift of being able to give blessings. Others struggle with it until they grow into the ability to give blessings. I know that there have been times when I have started the blessing and have felt like I was rambling on, when suddenly thoughts that are not my own start to pour into my head. As I voice these thoughts the blessing unfolds that I could never have given on my own. When the thoughts stop then I close the blessing.
Giving blessings is probably one of the most difficult things to master in using the priesthood. It requires so much faith and patience, practice and trust that the Lord will step in and give you the information you need to really bless that person.
I hope this answers your question. Thanks for asking.
I think you might have already answered this, so I apologize, but… since there are multiple people taking part in the baby blessing, is it better to say “we bless you…” or “I bless you…” ?
Also, as I am going over things in my head, what is a good way to word the part where you give the baby a name? I’m having trouble coming up with something that flows smoothly.
Ex. “Dear Heavenly …, by the power of the… … , we give thee the name of ___ ___ ___… in addition to blessing you with… ”
I understand these things take practice to get the hang of but this will be my first baby blessing and I would prefer not to stumble through the initial part of the blessing.
The general rule of thumb when praying or blessing as the spokesperson for a group is to use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. Every priesthood holder in the circle is assisting in giving the name and blessing, so it would be appropriate to use ‘we’.
As to the wording of the naming of the child, as long as you include all the required phrases and parts, it doesn’t really matter what flourishes you add to personalize it. I would suggest keeping it as simple and straight forward as you can. Keeping it simple will help maintain the reverence and dignity of the ordinance.
I hope this helps.
Several years ago Elder Boyd K Packer sent a letter to Bishops and Stake Presidents stating that blessing a child should be done as a prayer to Heavenly Father. Since we begin by addressing Him, we should continue with the prayer as such. This is contrary to commonly held counsel, but I’m pretty sure I remember this letter. Does anyone else Remember it?
I don’t remember hearing of this letter, but if anyone can find the contents of it I would certainly be interested in reading it. Thanks for bringing it up. I wish there was something on LDS.org that would allow us to read all the letters the Brethren send out to the Church.
Is there a record in the Church that provides information and certifies that a naming and blessing of a child has taken place?
The blessing of children is a recorded ordinance. Check with your membership clerk.