My husband and his brother are extremely reluctant to give blessings to sick family. They see it as a last resort while my sister-in-law and I see it as a line of defense for times when you’ve done what you can at home but going to the doctor will probably be a waste of time or when someone is in extreme pain right then, etc. They seem to feel like they shouldn’t ask God for help with these things unless it’s serious but we don’t think there’s a limit to God’s patience or their Priesthood power.
There are no limitations (serious or simple) provided by the Lord in order for a priesthood blessing to be given. In my years I have come across two common theories as when to ask for a priesthood blessing:
1) We should go to the Lord first and exercise faith in his power (faith precedes the miracle). If not healed, then seek medicinal opportunities that are available to us.
2) We should do all we can first before we seek out a priesthood blessing. This principle appears to be associated with the concept of doing all we can before we qualify for the grace of Christ, or faith without works is dead. Do all you can, and if all you can still isn’t working, then go to the Lord.
In the Book of Mormon we can read the following passage of scripture,
“And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate—” (emphasis mine, Alma 46:40)
I personally, believe that God has given us a mind to think through our decisions, and to discover the best action to take. If I wake up in the morning with a very bad headache, I know we have medicine — that God prepared — for me to use to remedy this pain. Oh, and with how often I seem to get headaches, I am very grateful to modern medicine. I do not need to seek a priesthood blessing as the remedy has already been given.
On the other hand, when my children were young and were not feeling well (not with a headache though) I would offer a blessing in order to increase their faith in Christ and in His priesthood. If we are thinking through things, I believe our spirits will tell us when we should seek a priesthood blessing, and no priesthood holder should feel reluctant to provide a priesthood blessing to someone who has requested such. This is not our place as those who hold and do not own the priesthood. I would personally hate to be that person who is reluctant to give a blessing, because the Lord did not reveal to me that they should ask me for a blessing. This is not my place.
I, personally, am not comfortable being reluctant to give a blessing to a brother or sister, young or old, male or female who comes requesting a priesthood blessing — no matter how serious I think the issue is. The problem here to me is the word “I” which shouldn’t be an aspect of priesthood blessings. I do not know what witness or what feeling they have felt from the Lord, and to think I can judge how serious a situation is — well — I simply don’t think that way. With my own family, I will instruct and counsel on the already given principle — God has given me a mind to think through and to discover the best course of action. There is a time to act, request a priesthood blessing, and there are times for us to first do all we can before we seek a priesthood blessing. Who then decides that? The individual requesting decides that, and if a priesthood holder receives a request for a blessing we shouldn’t be hesitant, but act in faith and provide a blessing as requested, because our reluctance and lack of faith could prevent the Lord from giving this individual the blessing they deserve. How can we be open to the Spirit if we ourselves are reluctant to give a blessing?