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Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Gift of Healing Part 6: The Limitations of Medical Science and Priesthood Blessings

As I mentioned in a previous post (here), and per the church's General Handbook of Instructions, we members have three official options for healing: (1) competent medical help, (2) exercising faith and (3) priesthood blessings.

The handbook defines what church leaders believe are unacceptable avenues for healing: those which are ethically, spiritually or legally questionable. I agree; you can't bring about righteous ends using unrighteous means. 

The Shortcomings of "Medical Help"

The Handbook then gives us a little more detail in the three options. The first, concerning "medical help," provides some common-sense advice: Consult a medical professional who's competent in their area of specialization.

I agree. If you have a broken leg, earache, heart palpitations, kidney stones, or one of a bajillion medical conditions, then go to the doctor! Some may believe that doing so is somehow spiritually reprehensible. I disagree, because sometimes, God provides His healing through those He has gifted with remarkable abilities. While you may have some gripes with doctors, it's foolish to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

However, you and I both know that in many cases, the medical profession has failed us. The barren are still barren, the deaf are still deaf and the blind are still blind. Yet we know that in the Bible, such conditions can be easily reversed by God.

We still lack "standard of care" cures for cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, schizophrenia, manic depression, Alzheimer's, autism, Crohn's disease, tinnitus and chronic insomnia. Where can those with these conditions turn? See what I mean?

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church"

The Handbook gives us a second avenue for healing: priesthood blessings.

When it comes to administering to the sick and healing them, President Brigham Young was specific in what kind of expectations he had regarding results:

"When I lay hands on the sick, I expect the healing power and influence of God to pass through me to the patient, and the disease to give way. … When we are prepared, when we are holy vessels before the Lord, a stream of power from the Almighty can pass through the tabernacle of the administrator to the system of the patient, and the sick are made whole." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 251)

Imagine the reputation the church would have if all its priesthood holders were able to give miraculous blessings of healing! People with faith by the droves would flock to priesthood holders. It would be a regular occurrence to read or hear in the news about people cured of Covid, cancer, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer's disease and infertility by men through whom the power of God flowed.

Unfortunately, that's not reality. 


I think there are many reasons. 

One of them: Many members believe that the higher the priesthood office, the greater the efficacy of the blessing. Nothing could be further from the truth. In July 2018, I posted Cheryl's story (here). In it, she told how she received many priesthood blessings for two serious chronic medical conditions she had experienced for many years. Blessings from Stake Presidency members and bishops were ineffectual. But finally, she was prompted to ask for a blessing from her 19-year-old son who had just been ordained an elder. It worked. He was the youngest, the "least" of the priesthood holders in Cheryl's area. And it was he who got his mother the temporary respite from pain and insomnia she so desperately sought.  

Secondly, it's apparent that many priesthood holders don't know how to give a proper priesthood blessing. For example, I am nauseated - nauseated! - by three modern-day priesthood blessing dynamics:

  1. Blessings in which God refers to Himself in the third person. Priesthood blessings are supposed to be the relaying of God's own words through a mortal agent who is attuned to God and His words. The instant, the very moment, God is referred to in the third person, it ceases to be a personal message to you from God. Somebody else has stepped in between you and God.
I can't think of a single instance where a member of deity referred to themself in the third person. Can you? If you're receiving a blessing where God is being referred to in the third person, then from whom is that blessing really from? 

  1. All the priesthood blessings which sound more like CTR-A primary lessons. "God loves you," "God is aware of you," "God knows your name," "God knows your circumstances." 
No duh! Are we not told that "the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matthew 10:30)? Are we not told time and again that God knows ALL things past, present and future? With these facts (all of which you've known since childhood), why are we expected to be amazed and astounded when we are told that God is aware of you?
  1. The fruits just aren't there. I know hundreds who are literally sick and tired of priesthood blessings which are helpless, hopeless, impersonal, dispassionate, unfulfilling, impotent, barren, fruitless, infertile, sterile, unfruitful, depressing and even distressing.
That's not to say all priesthood blessings are utter failures. Some have worked, and were even powerful. Unfortunately, I know more than my fair share of members who've had so many dismal experiences with priesthood blessings, they've given up on them. 

And when said blessings are given in the name of God, then tell me how this ISN'T a case of using the Lord's name in vain?

Why is this so? President Nelson said in his April 2019 General conference talk, "We Can Do Better and Be Better":

"Brethren, we all need to repent. We need to get up off the couch, put down the remote, and wake up from our spiritual slumber. It is time to put on the full armor of God so we can engage in the most important work on earth. It is time to "thrust in [our] sickles, and reap with all [our] might, mind, and strength." (D&C 33:7) The forces of evil have never raged more forcefully than they do today. As servants of the Lord, we cannot be asleep while this battle rages."

Now, don't think that this is some kind of new dynamic in the church. It isn't. It's been a problem for at least 30 years:

"In recent years I have felt, and I think I am not alone, that we were losing the ability to correct the course of the Church. You cannot appreciate how deeply I feel about the importance of this present opportunity unless you know the regard, the reverence, I have for the Book of Mormon and how seriously I have taken the warnings of the prophets, particularly Alma and Helaman. Both Alma and Helaman told of the church in their day. They warned about fast growth, the desire to be accepted by the world, to be popular, and particularly they warned about prosperity. Each time those conditions existed in combination, the Church drifted off course. All of those conditions are present in the Church today. Helaman repeatedly warned, I think four times he used these words, that the fatal drift of the church could occur 'in the space of not many years.' In one instance it took only six years." (See Helaman 6:32, 7:6, 11:26.)" (Elder Boyd K Packer, address given at a Regional Representatives Seminar, March 30 1990)

Twenty years later, In the April 2010 General Conference, he also said,

"We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be." (Pres. Boyd K Packer, "The Power of the Priesthood", April 2010 General Conference)

Eight years later, the situation hadn't changed at all. In his April 2018 General Conference address, Pres. Nelson gave a terrific example of this lack of priesthood power:

"Now, may I voice a concern? It is this: Too many of our brothers and sisters do not fully understand the concept of priesthood power and authority. They act as though they would rather satisfy their own selfish desires and appetites than use the power of God to bless His children.

I fear that too many of our brothers and sisters do not grasp the privileges that could be theirs. Some of our brethren, for example, act like they do not understand what the priesthood is and what it enables them to do. Let me give you some specific examples.

Not long ago, I attended a sacrament meeting in which a new baby was to be given a name and a father's blessing. The young father held his precious infant in his arms, gave her a name, and then offered a beautiful prayer. But he did not give that child a blessing. That sweet baby girl got a name but no blessing! That dear elder did not know the difference between a prayer and a priesthood blessing. With his priesthood authority and power, he could have blessed his infant, but he did not. I thought, 'What a missed opportunity!'

Let me cite some other examples. 

We know of brethren who set sisters apart as Primary, Young Women, or Relief Society leaders and teachers but fail to bless them-to bless them with the power to fulfill their callings. They give only admonitions and instructions. We see a worthy father who fails to give his wife and his children priesthood blessings when that is exactly what they need. Priesthood power has been restored to this earth, and yet far too many brothers and sisters go through terrible trials in life without ever receiving a true priesthood blessing. What a tragedy! That's a tragedy that we can eliminate." ("Ministering with the Power and Authority of God"; also see D&C 84:19-22; 107:18-19; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:30-31)

Pres. Nelson continued:

"Recently, Wendy and I were in a meeting where the organist was poised and ready to play the opening hymn. His eyes were on the music, and his fingers were on the keys. He began pressing the keys, but there was no sound. I whispered to Wendy, "He has no power." I reasoned that something had stopped the flow of electrical power to that organ.

Well, brethren, in like manner, I fear that there are too many men who have been given the authority of the priesthood but who lack priesthood power because the flow of power has been blocked by sins such as laziness, dishonesty, pride, immorality, or preoccupation with things of the world.

I fear that there are too many priesthood bearers who have done little or nothing to develop their ability to access the powers of heaven. I worry about all who are impure in their thoughts, feelings, or actions or who demean their wives or children, thereby cutting off priesthood power.

I fear that too many have sadly surrendered their agency to the adversary and are saying by their conduct, "I care more about satisfying my own desires than I do about bearing the Savior's power to bless others."

I fear, brethren, that some among us may one day wake up and realize what power in the priesthood really is and face the deep regret that they spent far more time seeking power over others or power at work than learning to exercise fully the power of God." (Pres. Russell M Nelson, "The Price of Priesthood Power," April 2016 General Conference)

Finally, Pres. Nelson said: 

"Stake presidents and bishops, please ensure that every member of the quorums within your stewardship understands how to give a priesthood blessing-including the personal worthiness and spiritual preparation required to call fully upon the power of God."
 ("Ministering with the Power and Authority of God")

It's no wonder that we read,

"They draw near to me with their lips . . . having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof." (Joseph Smith 2:19; 2 Timothy 3:5)

So here you have the current church president and the immediate past Q12 President both saying the same thing. And those are relatively recent quotes.

It's time for us to not stick our heads in the sand and assume that all is well in Zion. It isn't. Did you see how Pres. Nelson used the word "fear" in conjunction with this condition? OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Pres. Nelson doesn't take this situation casually, and neither do I. We have many members seeking healing, which should be rightfully theirs, and not finding it. That should concern all of us.

I began this post discussing the things "that work together for healing, according to the will of the Lord." (source

While there is a place for diagnosis and treatment by competent, licensed medical practitioners, we both know modern medicine has its fair share of shortcomings which, as the scriptures demonstrate, are nothing in the face of true healing by God. 

While we are encouraged to "call for the elders of the church," it's distressing how passionately and frequently worldwide church leaders have publicly pronounced their votes of non-confidence in  priesthood holders. And because I, and many others, continue to see a lack of priesthood power in blessings given since Pres. Nelson requested local leaders to intervene in this issue, it's reasonable to conclude that the situation isn't improving.

Then there's that third recommendation given in the Handbook: "exercising faith."

The Gift of Healing is a merciful solution to the inadequacies exhibited by modern medical science and the lack of priesthood power. It works, too. We have oodles of scriptural accounts testifying of it.

By the looks of it, we have very few Gift of Healing experts in the church - enough to cause the current church president to consistently use the word "fear." Show me another General Conference talk with those dynamics.

You may think this is another person's problem. It isn't. You may think you can hurry and become an expert when world conditions warrant it. That's called "procrastination." Just read this previous post to see how urgently you -- we -- need the Gift of Healing. 

I praise God for the experiences He's given me regarding the Gift of Healing. I've seen results which far exceeded my wildest expectations. And I have no notable church calling.

How do you get on this course? You begin with prayer. You pour your heart and soul into it, begging God to immerse your mind and heart with ways you can gift Him back by serving your brothers and sisters with the Gift of Healing -- a gift which the Savior so freely offers us, male and female, young and old, to exercise.

Then start learning the basics. Grasp onto the iron rod. Turn to what God has already revealed in the scriptures. Here's a link to the Topical Guide entry for "Healing." 

As you read this and other topics associated with healing, ask God to illuminate your heart and mind with further insights and even experiences about this gift. You'll be tested and tried to demonstrate your dedication. Ace those tests. Keep turning to God directly - His written word and spoken word - and grasping the iron rod that leads to the Tree of Life.

You and I both know that as you head down this path, Satan's going to try to trip you up, divert and discourage you. In my next post, we'll start confronting those obstacles to your fully understanding and exercising the Gift of Healing, where YOU are truly "exercising faith".


  1. Wondering what one is supposed to say during a real healing priesthood blessing, I followed the links provided for the topic of healing provided by the Church and found another talk with more insight on what a priesthood holder is supposed to say during a healing blessing. This is from the talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks from April 4, 2010 General Conference;

    “...Fortunately the words spoken in a healing blessing are not essential to it’s healing effect. If faith is sufficient, and if the Lord wills it, the afflicted person will be healed or blessed, whether the officiator speaks those words or not.”

    “Consequently, no elder should ever hesitate to participate in a healing blessing because of fear he will not know what to say- The words spoken in a healing blessing can edify and energize the faith of those who hear them, but the effect of the blessing is dependent upon faith and the Lord’s will- not upon the words spoken by the elder officiating.”

    Now I am really confused. Maybe it’s other types of blessings where the words matter more and not healing blessings?

    1. Oh I totally agree with Pres. Oaks. ***If the words are from God***, then I don't think God expects us to get every word verbatim. Even Joseph Smith edited many of the revelations he received.

      What I (and Pres. Nelson) are talking about is when the words aren't from God in the first place. You'll be hard pressed to convince me that God honors words which originated from a mortal, not Himself.

    2. Ha ha!Good thought- makes total sense!

    3. It still ends up in exercising faith, for me if the one giving the blessing have sufficient faith that he can heal,its recipient can be healed even if she has a weaker faith, if it is the Lord's will. On the other hand if the one asking the blessing has a greater faith than the one giving it, he can also be healed according to God's will, and if both of them have the same faith on it, it is more powerful, i think. In short, in either ways, the Lord heals people according to their faith and if it is not their appointed time in many ways..

  2. I guess I'm in the same boat in understanding what/how to say a priesthood blessing if what I am doing isn't correct. after reading this, I am sure it isn't.

    1. Unfortunately, we members are constantly and consistently fed a to-do list for everything under the sun. Stake Conferences and even General Conference talks are overflowing with bullet points and lists of things for us to do.

      With all due respect to those speakers, there is one and only one bullet point, and it's found in D&C 8:2-3 --

      "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
      Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground."

      Now you're probably going, "OK, now what are the six bullet points to hear God in my mind and in my heart?" Knock it off with the bullet points!!! There is NOTHING formulaic about revelation. We all know that the spirit is a still, small voice. Then be still. Be calm. Listen for Him. And you'll hear him.