If we fast for more than one thing does it diminish the help we might receive?

If we fast for more than one thing does it diminish the help we might receive?

Question

 

Dear Gramps,

If a person fasts for more than one concern at the same time, does it dilute or diminish the power or help that could be available were we to fast for any one of those concerns individually?

Robert

 

Answer

 

Hi Robert,

I suspect the problem here is one of viewpoint. The fast is not a magical rite that invokes a quantity of blessings on the object of the fast, with the consequence that those blessings might be diluted if spread too thin. We are not trying to bribe God or secure his divine favor through His appreciation of our performance of a fast.

The fast (and the prayer that should always accompany it) is a blessing that God has given to us. It is completely for our own benefit. The fast is designed to increase and deepen our own spiritual sensitivity, allowing us more intimate communication with God. In that state, we can more easily determine God’s will and understand how our own actions might affect the course of events. We become more sensitive to impressions and ideas that can help us and those we love.

So why not just fast for everything at once, all the problems in our lives and in the world? Because that is not how our minds and our spirits work. We normally confront our challenges individually and deal with things one by one. Eveything at once is simply too big an elephant to eat in one bite. But as we consider individual challenges and obstacles, fasting can help us understand how to proceed, or at times give us the strength to carry on despite the challenges.

 

Gramps

 

Does your patriarchal blessing ever hint as to who you will marry?

Does your patriarchal blessing ever hint as to who you will marry?

Question

 

Gramps,

I have been thinking a lot about patriarchal blessings lately, and I was wondering if your blessing ever hints to WHO you will marry. I’m in high school and believe me I’ve had lots of crushes on different boys, but lately I’ve been spending time with a new person and he has a beautiful pure heart and honors his priesthood and I feel like he is someone special. He fulfills every requirement on my eternal companion list. I even feel the spirit when I think about him. Is this possible? Thanks

Kate

 

Answer

 

Dear Kate,

It’s always dangerous to try to predict what will or won’t be in any particular patriarchal blessing.  These blessings are revelation given specifically to you through your patriarch; and they will contain whatever counsel the Lord thinks you need to have (and sometimes what He wants us to know, doesn’t always coincide with what we want to know!).

That said, it’s probably worth noting as a general principle that patriarchal blessings do not exist primarily to forecast specific life events.  Rather, my experience is that they tend to teach various principles that should be applied throughout one’s life; perhaps with particular attention on one or two relatively specific pieces of advice for specific stages of life.

So if you are looking at getting a patriarchal blessing as a means of identifying Mr. Right–or scouring through a blessing already received, combing for clues as to his identity–I would gently suggest that you change your approach.  Do right, love God, seek revelation, enjoy life as it comes, and trust that when the Lord wants you to get a revelation on that subject–you’ll get it.

 

Gramps

 

What does my patriarchal blessing mean when it says I will live a life of longevity?

What does my patriarchal blessing mean when it says I will live a life of longevity?

Question

 

Gramps,

There is one part of my patriarchal blessing that I have had a very hard time understanding. It says that I will have ministering angels watching over me and at times I’ll be able to feel of those angels. And as long as I’m worthy of this blessing in my life I will have the opportunity of living a life of longevity. I’ve always wondered about if that means a long life here on this earth or a long life as in an eternal life even after I have passed on. Any insight? Thanks!!

Kara

 

Answer

 

Kara,

Patriarchal blessings are deeply personal revelations to the individuals that receive them. As such, the interpretation of them is also deeply personal. The section you are sharing could have any number of meanings. The best way to discover your answer is to make it a matter of personal prayer. There are a couple things that prevent me from offering an interpretation of this part of your blessing.

First of all, the meaning of this part of your blessing is not for me to know. I wish I could feel confident in giving you a more direct answer. However, there are several things even I am not supposed to know in this life. The interpretation of other people’s patriarchal blessings happens to be one of those things. Nobody has the authority to receive revelation regarding your patriarchal blessing besides you. As you search for the answers you are in need of, maintain your humility and purity before the Lord in your daily walk in this life. Be prepared for the chance that now isn’t the right time for the answer you are seeking. All things are done in the wisdom, and the time, of the Lord. When He knows the time is right, and sees that you are prepared, the answer will come.

The other thing that gets in the way is the very nature of a patriarchal blessing. Many times, we can think that a patriarchal blessing is a sort of fortune telling, or horoscope. We can let ourselves think that everything within a blessing simply must happen to us, for God has told us directly. However the reality is that a patriarchal blessing, as with any other blessing, is dependent upon us, upon our hearts, upon our intents, upon our actions, and upon our faith. No blessing comes to one who is not worthy of it. A patriarchal blessing is a moment where Heavenly Father has a chance to speak directly to you about some of the more important things that he wants to make a part of your life. He has the chance to give you some personal council, and in some cases, even some personally tailored warnings.

Because of this, the realization of the section you are wondering about very well could occur in your life. Then again, it could also not occur, for a few reasons, not all of which would be directly tied to you. Further on in your life, you may well read part of your blessing and wonder why something didn’t turn out as you thought. That moment is another opportunity for you to consider what the blessing meant to you at the time, versus the present moment. It is also another opportunity to consider what God meant by it as well. Sometimes we don’t always understand what God is really saying at the time, but only later does it come to our understanding.

Treasure your patriarchal blessing. It is revelation from Heavenly Father directly to you, and to no one else in this life. No one else in this life is entitled to know its contents. Of course you are encouraged to share it and discuss it with your spouse or other close family members as you deem appropriate. I would advise that you very carefully consider whom you include in that group. I promise you that the Lord will keep his word as has been given to you in your blessing. It is dependent upon your righteousness before the Lord. As you maintain your walk with Christ, you will see the promises in your patriarchal blessing become realized in your life, and even greater things beyond them. May God be with you always, Kara.

 

Gramps

 

 

Can miracles be performed by faith alone?

Can miracles be performed by faith alone?

Question

 

Gramps,

John was telling Jesus that there was a man [who not followeth them] casting out devils. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name. From my understanding – people can perform miracles with faith alone and do not need the Priesthood to perform miracles?

Marco

 

Answer

 

Hello Marco,

I think Mark 9, verses 39-42 really gets to the core of what Jesus is trying to teach John:

39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Jesus’ primary concern in this context seems to be for the anonymous stranger who, out of good intentions, is trying to do good in Jesus’ name and advance His cause.  The Lord did not want the zeal of this spiritual “little one” to be squelched, or “offended”, by an inappropriate insistence on legalistic procedures.  Of this situation Elder James E. Talmage wrote (in Jesus the Christ, chapter 24, pages 390-391):

“That the man who had attempted to do good in the name of Jesus was evidently sincere, and that his efforts were acceptable to the Lord we cannot doubt; his act was essentially different from the unrighteous assumptions for which some others were afterward rebuked; he was certainly a believer in Christ, and may have been one of the class from which the Lord was soon to select and commission special ministers and the Seventy.”

In a footnote to this passage, Elder Talmage contrasts this incident with the unsuccessful attempt of the sons of Sceva to cast out devils in Christ’s name as related in Acts 19:13-17.

Is it possible to work miracles through faith alone?  Clearly, yes.  In a recent conference address on healings, Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:

We know that the prayer of faith, uttered alone or in our homes or places of worship, can be effective to heal the sick. Many scriptures refer to the power of faith in the healing of an individual. The Apostle James taught that we should “pray one for another, that ye may be healed,” adding, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). When the woman who touched Jesus was healed, He told her, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Matthew 9:22). Similarly, the Book of Mormon teaches that the Lord “worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men” (Moroni 10:7).

 

A recent nationwide survey found that nearly 8 in 10 Americans “believe that miracles still occur today as [they did] in ancient times.” A third of those surveyed said they had “experienced or witnessed a divine healing.” Many Latter-day Saints have experienced the power of faith in healing the sick. We also hear examples of this among people of faith in other churches. A Texas newspaperman described such a miracle. When a five-year-old girl breathed with difficulty and became feverish, her parents rushed her to the hospital. By the time she arrived there, her kidneys and lungs had shut down, her fever was 107 degrees, and her body was bright red and covered with purple lesions. The doctors said she was dying of toxic shock syndrome, cause unknown. As word spread to family and friends, God-fearing people began praying for her, and a special prayer service was held in their Protestant congregation in Waco, Texas. Miraculously, she suddenly returned from the brink of death and was released from the hospital in a little over a week. Her grandfather wrote, “She is living proof that God does answer prayers and work miracles.”

 

Truly, as the Book of Mormon teaches, God “manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles … among the children of men according to their faith” (2 Nephi 26:13).

(Emphasis added.)

What, then, is the advantage of having a priesthood holder attempting to call down the same miracle?

Primarily, the advantage lies in the authority of the person offering the blessing.  This authority allows the priesthood holder the discernment he needs to, in the words of Bruce R. McConkie, “stand in the place and stead of his Master—who is the Chief Elder—in ministering to his fellowmen” (Only an Elder, June 1975) such that the priesthood holder’s voice becomes the Lord’s voice; the priesthood holder’s acts, the Lord’s acts.

The Lord recognizes this authority and, in the 42nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants, offers a special promise to those who seek blessings of healing through it:

44 And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. . . .

48 And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.

Notice that this promise does not say “may” be healed, or “might” be healed; but shall (for which one could grammatically substitute “must” or “will”) be healed.

Priesthood authority, then, can facilitate the working of great miracles even if those same miracles might also be attainable by faith alone.  However, one place where priesthood authority is absolutely irreplaceable is in the governance of the Church and the administration of saving ordinances.  In address entitled simply “Ordinances” given at BYU on February 3, 1980, Elder Boyd K. Packer drew a connection between the words ordain, ordinance and order; and I would highly recommend that you read the entire talk.  It is available here.

 

 

Gramps

 

 

Will I receive a greater blessing for enduring a specific trial?

Will I receive a greater blessing for enduring a specific trial?

Question

 

Gramps,

Do I get a greater blessing for successfully enduring a trial? For example I don’t have a family. I was not blessed with children and my relatives are dead. I hear about how important family is. Will I get a greater blessing if I successfully endure this than if I hadn’t had this trial? Will it really be made up to me? I can reach out to people and be friends and do my best to serve others but there is no substitute for a family.

Shasta

 

Answer

 

Shasta,

You are right; there is really no substitute for family.  I’m sorry for the heartache this must cause you.

I don’t think it is helpful to try and place trials in some sort of hierarchy as to which ones are more difficult than others.  Likewise, I’m not sure it’s in our best interest to try and measure blessings.  However, I think you are really looking for hope and comfort, is that right?

If so, then yes, Shasta, I believe you will be blessed for enduring to the end.  Endure means suffer patiently. That tells me that when “endure” is used in the scriptures, the Lord is reminding us that He knows this life is hard.  Fortunately there are also many scriptures that assure us of His love and nearness during our trials. I encourage you to seek for them.

I believe in the end each of us will find our cup runneth over with blessings.  I know that I, as an imperfect father, desire that my children are happy.  I do my best to help them achieve that.  Our Father in Heaven, who is perfect, and all powerful, has so much more ability to make sure that each of us receives a “fullness of joy” when the time is right.

Hold on Shasta, you are not alone in your pain, there will be an end to the suffering, and a beginning to joy such as you cannot yet imagine.

 

Gramps

How is dedicating a home done by a Priesthood holder?

How is dedicating a home done by a Priesthood holder?

Question

Gramps,

How is the performing of a dedication of a home by a Priesthood holder done?  Does he have to raise his hand?  Thanks.

Luis

 

Answer

Dear Luis,

I would follow the Church Handbook of Instructions on this one:

20.11 Dedicating Homes

Church members may dedicate their homes as sacred edifices where the Holy Spirit can reside and where family members can worship, find safety from the world, grow spiritually, and prepare for eternal family relationships. Homes need not be free of debt to be dedicated. Unlike Church buildings, homes are not consecrated to the Lord.

A Melchizedek Priesthood holder may dedicate a home by the power of the priesthood. If there is not a Melchizedek Priesthood holder in the home, a family might invite a close relative, a home teacher, or another Melchizedek Priesthood holder to dedicate the home. Or a family might gather and offer a prayer that includes the elements mentioned in the preceding paragraph and other words as the Spirit directs

 

Gramps

Should we pray for food in a public setting?

Should we pray for food in a public setting?

Question

Gramps,

Should we pray over food in a public setting such as restaurants?

Austin

 

Answer

Austin,

We should always have a prayer in our hearts. As we read in Alma 34:27:

“Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.”

But whether to pray or not in a public restaurant is a personal decision. Some feel it the best course. Some do not. I wouldn’t presume to take a position on it.

The only advice I would give is that if one’s reason to not pray is the fear of man, but otherwise one feels he/she should, then to get over that fear and do as one feels is right.

Gramps

Why are some so public about their donations?

Why are some so public about their donations?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I live in northern Utah.  There is a very wealthy LDS family here who over the years has donated millions of dollars to various causes.  You can see their family surname posted prominently on all kinds of buildings and facilities.  Yet, I’m curious why they would do that, in light of the Savior’s admonition: “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1.  What do you think?

Robert

 

Answer

Dear Robert,

There’s a number of reasons why a person would want to give publicly. For instance, grandparents may want to instill a sense of giving in grandchildren. They give publicly so that, even after they’re dead, their descendants can see the name on the plaque and know “my family is a family of givers. That’s what my last name means.” By making it a public memorial, the lesson is passed on even without parents making an effort to do so. Similarly, by seeing the kind of places these donations are made, their posterity can see where their values were.

Related to this is the idea of giving to serve as an inspiration and example to others. I may know that one of the donors has an income similar to mine, and by looking at the public acknowledgement of her contribution bracket, I can see that what I deemed was unfeasible may indeed be possible if I were more generous. Her example would lead me to reevaluate my financial priorities.

Sometimes, heads of large corporations will make a public show of their philanthropy in an effort to foster goodwill. Companies are given a bad name by competitors and on occasion by frustrated consumers. At times they are perceived as “out of touch”. Open philanthropy shows that the corporate leaders share some of the same concerns as their employees and customers and can be used to shape an image.

I think these last two reasons are why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publishes some of its humanitarian efforts. There’s a perception that the Church is a multi-billion dollar tax-free business that harvests the funds of needy members and spends it on things of little value (as the critics see it). The very public aid the Church gives shows that it is a part of the world community, and the salvation it is so concerned about includes a temporal salvation. It also serves as an inspiration for other people and other organizations to give generously.

That’s all well and good, but why would a person (or even the Church) “offer alms before men” if there is no heavenly reward for it? Let’s read on and see what Jesus says:

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and they Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”(Matt. 6:1-4, emphasis mine)

They (and the Church) give openly so they can have the open reward. These public donors are not denied public accolades that come from their public giving. They have their reward and they get what they pay for. Those who do the same anonymously are openly rewarded by God.

What do you give and how?

Gramps

 

Why are two Priesthood holders needed for blessing the sick?

Why are two Priesthood holders needed for blessing the sick?

Question

Gramps,

In our Gospel Principles class we were studying the priesthood organization. A question came about as to why we need two priesthood holders to perform a blessing for healing of the sick. I do know if necessary one priesthood holder could accomplish this. Nobody could really come up with a definitive answer.  Thanks.

Chris

 

Answer

Chris,

The blessing of the sick is a two-part ordinance normally accomplished by two or more Melchizedek priesthood holders.  As a two-part ordinance we are counseled that one person anoints, while the other seals the anointing.  The sacrament is also an ordinance which could easily be accomplished by one Melchizedek priesthood holder; although, the Lord has directed that a deacon passes, a teacher prepares, and a priest blesses the sacrament.  The blessing of the sacrament is also two parts: the bread and the water.  One priest could easily bless both the bread and water, and yet, we have two priests to bless the sacrament.

Joseph Smith once declared, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves,” which appears to have persuasion within the realm of blessing the sick.  The Church Handbook of Instructions does not clearly define that the anointing and the sealing must be accomplished by two Melchizedek priesthood holders.  The handbook specifies that “one” brother anoints, while normally two or more take part in the sealing.  We have been provided a principle that gives opportunity (allows others to exercise their priesthood on behalf of family and friends) for more than one Melchizedek priesthood holder to bless the life of a fellow son or daughter of God. At the same time, we are to act in wisdom in all things.  Part of this wisdom is to recognize the circumstances of life which may present an opportunity when we are the only Melchizedek priesthood holder around to anoint and seal a blessing.  At these times we further recognize the Lord’s wisdom.

Gramps

How much fasting is enough to receive blessings?

How much fasting is enough to receive blessings?

Question

Dear Gramps,

I’ve got a question about f. I can see putting forth the effort to fast and all of the pain and suffering that goes along with it in order to obtain a blessing. Sort of like a sacrifice we make for the blessing. But what if the blessing is not to be granted? Are we not being cheated out of the blessing we suffered or paid for? I’m in a dilemma. There’s a family blessing I dearly want for which I am willing to fast, and sacrifice much pain and hunger for many days to obtain. And I have the faith to do it. But if it’s not to be granted in the end, if it’s not God’s will, then why should I go through all of the pain and suffering for nothing? Another question.  How many months of fasting would be sufficient before we can be confident that we’ve done enough? What if I quit a month too early? I’d never know if hanging on just a little longer would result in success. So many questions. Your thoughts on this would be very helpful.

Fabjan (more…)

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