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I was pleasantly surprised to find a LDS General Conference Talk given in 1986 by (then Elder, now President) Thomas S. Monson about studying our personal Patriarchal Blessings. For those of you who are not LDS, and therefore not
familiar with what I am referring to, I would suggest reading the talk given by President Monson. You can watch, read, or listen to it here. (1)
Elder Monson stated in his talk “Your patriarchal blessing is your passport to peace in this life. It is a Liahona of light to guide you unerringly to your heavenly home.” David A. Edwards commented on that quote in an article to Latter-day Saint youth, saying, “A passport allows you to enter a new land. But just having a passport doesn’t allow you to experience what that new land has to offer. You have to use it. Make frequent trips to a place of peace by studying your patriarchal blessing often.” Brother Edwards also stated, “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see your name in the Doctrine and Covenants, like one of the early Church members mentioned there? Well, according to President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), a patriarchal blessing is “personal scripture to you.” So if you think about how you study the scriptures, you can apply those ideas to studying your patriarchal blessing—making cross-references, keeping a journal of promptings you receive while you read, praying, pondering, making lists, memorizing “verses,” and so on.” (2)
I’ve always felt like a bit of an oddball; ever since I received my patriarchal blessing, I seemed to study it much more than my peers. I wasn’t content to just read it- I wanted to understand it so well that it would truly be written in my heart, and guide my life. It’s nice to know that President Monson and Brother Edwards, as well as others, have felt the same. It’s also nice to know that others have studied their patriarchal blessing in a manner similar to mine: I have written my patriarchal blessing in the back pages of my scriptures, as I regard it to be personal scripture. I have a copy in a folder where I keep my spiritual studies that I’ve color-coded according to topics. In my folder I record key phrases and topics my patriarchal blessing and then research them out. I have most of my patriarchal blessing memorized due to the amount of time I’ve spent pondering, searching out meanings, and studying its topics. I take President Monson’s statement seriously: “Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night. It will guide you through life’s dangers.” And it has. It has brought me so much peace, guidance, and light in my most troubling times.
Here’s a very simple way to start studying and linking scriptures to your own patriarchal blessing:
FIRST: Dedicate a notebook or journal to the study of your Patriarchal Blessing, and keep it in a special place. I have a small notebook that fits easily in my scripture case which I use to list questions that come to mind, record blessings that provide insight into subjects my patriarchal blessing talks about, and also to study out those subjects. I then transfer the information to a large folder where I keep all my spiritual studies.
SECOND: Read your patriarchal blessing and choose a list of subjects to start studying. There is no right or wrong place to start, so choose whatever speaks to your soul, and appeals the most to you. I find that choosing what stands out to me the most, is always exactly what I need at this time and season in my life. Below are some ideas of lists you can make from your patriarchal blessing:
- List divine callings and missions.
- List cautions.
- List directives/ guidance.
- List comforts.
- List protections.
- Any if/then statements?
- List questions that arise.
- List key phrases/topics.
THIRD: Dedicate your study time. Because you’re studying personal scripture, try to set the tone of your atmosphere to invite inspiration. I play calm, Christ-centered music like instrumental hymns, and I start with a prayer. Of course, with my little ones, interruptions are expected. I find though, that a short break to deal with their needs actually leads me to greater thoughts or understanding.
FOURTH: Start studying! I find the Bible Dictionary and Topical Guide to be very useful in looking up scriptures. Since I’m fairly familiar with my scriptures, often times I know what I am already looking for (like where the blessings of each tribe are listed in the Old Testament- Genesis 49). Another place to find wisdom on the topics you listed is to go to www.lds.org and, in the upper right-hand corner where the search you can search the site, enter a topic from your list. This is a great way to find Conference talks that bring wisdom and insight into your topics.
Let’s go through an example of starting to study. Since one purpose of receiving a patriarchal blessing is to list your lineage, here is a list of topics you could study pertaining to the subject of lineage:
- Abrahamic Covenant
- Tribes of Israel
- Lost Ten Tribes
- Gathering of Israel
- Blessings belonging to different tribes of Israel
Let’s choose the topic: “Lineage”. Search for “Lineage” on www.lds.org and all sorts of lovely things pop up! There will be scriptures, General Conference talks, articles from Church Magazines, quotes from lessons in church manuals, as well as videos that you can watch. If you scroll down to the scriptures, and click ‘All results’ there will be a list of nine scriptures to add to your knowledge. Interestingly, seven of those nine scriptures are in the Doctrine and Covenants. There are also seven listings in the Guide to the Scriptures. I would first take a look at the scriptures, and seek to understand what the chapter is talking about in order to keep the verses in their correct context.
On my paper, I would note any questions I have about lineage that arise. Here are some examples of questions that you may have pertaining to lineage: “Why is it important that Jesus’ lineage was listed on the first page of the New Testament?”. “Why are there more scriptures about lineage in the Doctrine and Covenants, and how does it teach me about the importance of knowing our lineage?”. “Why is it important to be a part of the Abrahamic Covenant through my lineage?”.
Some of these questions will be answered by the prophetic statements of our latter day prophets and apostles, so the next thing I would look at would be the General Conference talks and Church Magazine Articles. Make sure that you write which article or talk you are reading next to the information you are reading. Full notation is not needed, since these are just your notes. If you were to use President Harold B. Lee’s “Understanding Who We Are Brings Self-Respect”, I would write the name and title, and then use bullet points of the parts that stood out to me and taught me about my topic. Here are just two points from President Lee’s talk:
Lineage of Jacob= children of Israel.
They were born into the most illustrious lineage of any of those who came upon the earth as mortal beings.
I also like to read books by Latter-day Saint scholars on the topics and add their wisdom to my studies. Two books that greatly helped me in my study, and which I highly recommend in your studies are: The Articles of Faith by James E. Talmadge, Jesus The Christ by James E. Talmadge.
When you feel like you’ve linked enough scriptures, talks, etc. to your topic, feel free to move on to the next topic. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then choose a different topic that excites you. There is no right or wrong way to do start finding and linking scriptures to your patriarchal blessing. Just begin!
May the Lord bless you in your search to understand your own personal scripture, and may many mysteries be unfolded to you.
1- (Thomas S. Monson,Your Patrirchal Blessing: A Liahona of Light, LDS General Conference, October 1986)
2- (David A. Edwards, What A Patriarchal Blessing Can Do For You, https://www.lds.org/youth/article/what-a-patriarchal-blessing-can-do-for-you)