The Prophet gave me a blessing today
You hear a knock on your door. You aren't expecting visitors, so you glance through the window first, and your jaw drops. In a daze, you open the door and greet the Prophet of God. He tells you he felt impressed to visit your house and give you a personal priesthood blessing.
I was blessed by Prophets, Seers, and Revelators
How you would feel as President Nelson laid his hands on your head? Awe-struck? Humbled? Excited? All of the above? You may try especially hard to mentally capture every moment of this visit from the Lord's mouthpiece. You might even start your phone's voice recording app so you don't miss a single word of his blessing to you. That personal priesthood blessing from a Prophet of God would become a treasured, spiritually defining memory. Decades later, you might look back with special gratitude as you see how his pronouncements of added spiritual strength and revelation impacted your life.
As a young boy, I used to imagine meeting or even receiving a blessing from a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. But I knew that among so many millions of Church members, I'd never get the chance. And with such a well-organized hierarchy of priesthood leadership, I'd never really need a personal blessing from a Prophet or Apostle, anyway. I figured it would all just be a silly daydream.
But my silly daydream actually came true.
As a young missionary, I had the unexpected opportunity to receive a priesthood blessing from Elder Jeffrey R Holland in the Quorum of the Twelve. I can no longer remember the words of the blessing, but I remember the feeling it stirred within me and the impact that blessing had on my mission. More recently, I received another unexpected opportunity– this time to receive a priesthood blessing from Pres. Russell M. Nelson, himself. Both of these experiences were spine-tingling.
But before you get to thinking that I frequently rub shoulders with senior Church leadership, let me clarify. When Elder Holland blessed me, he also simultaneously blessed the thousands of other missionaries sitting with me at the MTC. And when President Nelson blessed me, he also simultaneously blessed the millions of other Church members listening to his April or October 2020 General Conference Talks.
Perhaps you might think I'm stretching too far here. You might be thinking to yourself that these uplifting thoughts from a public sermon are quite different than a real priesthood blessing. You might think that a blessing is given to a group collectively makes it less personal or less powerful. Or perhaps you think that a blessing without the physical laying of hands doesn't even "count" as a priesthood blessing?
In response, I would ask you: Were the Israelites "less healed" because Moses set up the brazen serpent instead of laying his hands on them? Was Naaman any "less cleansed" because Elisha didn't meet him in person? Was the day of Pentecost less personally transforming because everyone in the group received a tongue of fire over their heads?
Clearly, the size of the audience and the exact steps of a blessing do not impact its personal impact! Yet many members sadly don't connect the dots. Whether he is reading the blessing from a teleprompter or dictating it in your living room with his hands laid on your head makes zero difference. Apostolic blessings aren't just a nice way to end a Conference talk– we are being offered a personal priesthood blessing at the hands of a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.
Still don't believe me? Listen to these words from Elder Holland in 2008:
As our apostolic witnesses are taken into the world, we have [the opportunity] to bless– as the ancient Apostles did when the Savior invited them to do as He had done, except that it would be in all the world.
So for every one of you in attendance tonight– here in this vast auditorium or in other locations around the world– I bless every one of you, each one of you in your individual circumstances, as if my hands were on your head. I offer that to you as honestly as I offer my testimony. I bless you in the name of the Lord.
This statement– that apostolic blessings are offered exactly as if their hands are upon our heads individually– is is repeatedly attested to by members of the Quorum of the Twelve (example, example, example). The question is not whether apostolic blessings have the same power as personal priesthood blessings. The question is do we trust God when He says that they do? And do we take that seriously enough to perk up and pay attention when they are given?
The power of apostolic blessings
I share all of this because of an experience I had listening to Pres. Nelson's 2020 General Conference addresses during my personal study. Alone, without my kids clamoring for my attention, I could finally listen to his words. When he reached the end of his talks where he gave his apostolic blessings, I was prompted to pause and reflect. Pondering on the sacred nature of apostolic blessings I outlined above, I was impressed to listen to his blessing again, but this time with my head bowed and my eyes closed, "as if his hands were on my head." In this reverent atmosphere, his words hit me with new power:
Invoking the authority vested in me, I [confer] upon you an apostolic blessing.
I bless you with peace and increasing faith in the Lord.
I bless you with a desire to repent and become a little more like Him each day.
I bless you to know that the Prophet Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness.
Should there be illness among you or your loved ones, I leave a blessing of healing, consistent with the will of the Lord…
I bless you to be filled with the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ. His peace is beyond all mortal understanding. I bless you with an increased desire and ability to obey the laws of God. I promise that as you do, you will be showered with blessings, including greater courage, increased personal revelation, sweeter harmony in your homes, and joy even amid uncertainty…
I so bless you, adding once more my expression of love for [you], in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Pres. Nelson has never been to my house. Pres. Nelson doesn't know my name. But the spirit was present all the same. Across time and space and through the channel of my phone's speaker, I had just been given a blessing by the Prophet of God.
The growing need for apostolic blessings
Many apostolic blessings are given in stake conferences, missionary conferences, following natural disasters, and other selective occasions where recording and transcription are discouraged. However, there are some given in General Conference, recorded devotionals, and other public occasions that are well-documented. I linked around 50 of them below. Notice the trend: apostolic blessings are being offered more and more frequently, particularly in the last 4 years. We have all heard Pres. Nelson speak of his sense of urgency; is it any wonder he feels compelled to accompany the unprecedented times we are in with unprecedented, apostolic blessings?
- Pres. Young
- Pres. Kimball, October 1982
- Pres. Benson, April 1986
- Pres. Benson, April 1987
- Pres. Benson, October 1988
- Pres. Hinckley, April 1990
- Pres. Hunter, October 1994
- Pres. Faust, 1996
- Elder Holland, 2011
- Pres. Eyring, August 2001
- Pres. Eyring, Sept 2001
- Pres. Nelson, 2001
- Pres. Faust, April 2006
- Pres. Monson, October 2007
- Elder Eyring, 2008
- Elder Holland, 2008
- Elder Holland, 2009 via DVD
- Elder Christofferson, 2011
- Elder Holland, 2012
- Pres. Nelson, 2013 to the youth
- Pres. Nelson, 2013 to teachers of youth
- Elder Holland, 2015
- Elder Uchtdorf, 2015
- Pres. Nelson to Millennials, 2016
- Elder Rasband, 2016
- Pres. Nelson, 2017
- Pres. Nelson, April 2018
- Pres. Nelson, October 2018
- Pres. Nelson, October 2018 in Chile
- Elder Rasband, October 2018
- Pres. Nelson, April 2019
- Elder Uchtdorf, April 2019
- Elder Stevenson, April 2019
- Pres. Nelson, May 2019
- Elder Ballard, 2019
- Elder Rasband, 2019
- Pres. Nelson, September 2019
- Pres. Nelson, October 2019
- Pres. Nelson, February 2020
- Pres. Nelson, April 2020
- Pres. Nelson, October 2020
- Pres. Nelson, #HearHim
- Pres. Nelson in For the Strength of Youth
- Pres. Eyring, April 2021
- Elder Rasband, April 2021
- Pres. Nelson, April 2022
2 hours after I originally published this post, Pres. Nelson spoke in the Worldwide Young Adult Devotional and gave us another prophetic, apostolic blessing:
As the Lord's Prophet, I bless you to know the truth about who you are, and to treasure the truth about what your glorious potential really is. I bless you to take charge of your own testimony, and I bless you to have the desire and strength to keep your covenants.
As you do, I promise that you will experience spiritual growth, freedom from fear, and a confidence that you can scarcely imagine now.
You will have the strength to have a positive influence far beyond your natural capacity, and I promise that your future will be more exhilarating than anything you can presently believe. I so bless you and again express my gratitude and love for each of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Now the question is, do we believe him? Or write it off as nice thoughts? Me, I believe him and rejoice at another unexpected opportunity to receive a priesthood blessing from the Prophet tonight.