Could you explain what the scriptures mean about the gift of ministering angels? I’ve always wondered about that.
The good news (and there is no bad news) is that the gift of ministering of angels is just what it sounds like…angels (I suspect some of them are family members who have gone on before us) watching over you. Guiding, protecting, and inspiring. The scriptures are full of examples of angels ministering to men, but their labor is not limited to prophets.
As you know, the Aaronic Priesthood holds the keys of the ministering of angels, so let’s start there. Elder Oaks explained this:
“What does it mean that the Aaronic Priesthood holds “the key of the ministering of angels” . . . The meaning is found in the ordinance of baptism and in the sacrament. Baptism is for the remission of sins, and the sacrament is a renewal of the covenants and blessings of baptism. Both should be preceded by repentance. When we keep the covenants made in these ordinances, we are promised that we will always have His Spirit to be with us. The ministering of angels is one of the manifestations of that Spirit.” The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament
What this tells us is that through baptism, and striving to be clean we can become more worthy to have the Spirit with us, and part of that means the ministering of angels. Yes, you and I can receive the ministering of angels. Consider these words by Elder Holland. Here he was talking about Adam and Eve, but the words can apply to all of us:
“But God knew the challenges they would face, and He certainly knew how lonely and troubled they would sometimes feel. So He watched over His mortal family constantly, heard their prayers always, and sent prophets (and later apostles) to teach, counsel, and guide them. But in times of special need, He sent angels, divine messengers, to bless His children, reassure them that heaven was always very close and that His help was always very near. Indeed, shortly after Adam and Eve found themselves in the lone and dreary world, an angel appeared unto them, who taught them the meaning of their sacrifice and the atoning role of the promised Redeemer who was to come.” The Ministry of Angels
This quote tells us part of what ministering angels do…they remind us that heaven is very close at hand and His help is always near. That is my favorite of their jobs, but they do other things as well. We can see through the scriptures some of their different roles. Angels administered to Christ in Gethsemane. Angels brought the glorious news of the Savior’s birth to shepherds. An angel brought a message of repentance to Paul and to Alma the Younger. Moroni’s mission to Joseph Smith was to teach and instruct. We can see then that their roles are not unlike what the Holy Ghost does in our lives. It seems then that the more faithfully we live the gospel, the more likely we will be to feel the influence in our lives of ministering angels. Of course, we will not always see them, in fact, seeing them is rare, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. As Elder Holland said,
“Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times.” IBID
Sometimes too, if we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, particularly the Gift of Discernment, Heavenly Father can use us to do His work, in other words WE can be angels. Elder Holland spoke of this too:
“I have spoken here of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are interments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with–here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is only word that comes to mind.” IBID
I think the main thing we should remember about ministering angels is that they are a witness to us that “heaven [is] always very close and that His help [is] always very near.”