When my children were toddlers, I wanted them (ideally) not just to be quiet while the Sacrament was being passed, but to feel the Spirit and learn what’s so important about it. One successful way for me to enhance our reverence has been to quietly whisper in my child’s ear about what the Sacrament means. Pro tip: If you whisper in an unending stream, they don’t have a moment to get a shriek in edgewise. Through many years of trying to teach them the importance of the Sacrament, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons that have changed how I think about the Sacrament, too. Below are some of the insights I’ve gained as I have sought to teach my little ones about this important ordinance.
When the bread was being passed, I would teach my children that the bread is representative of Jesus Christ’s body. Over many years of pondering this, I believe the bread also represents his life—his mortal, earthly life; his day-to-day actions, and living example of how to treat people, how to forgive, how to be bold in a righteous cause. He is our ultimate exemplar. I believe the bread representing his physical flesh also represents the way he used that body—the way he lived.
The water, therefore, represents his blood, but also his willingness to spill that blood for our sake. It represents His ultimate sacrifice given freely to us. His blood marked the path back to our heavenly home. Without his atoning sacrifice, we have a good man, a prophet, a teacher, but we still have no hope. The water reminds us of our hope in Christ.
Both the way He lived and the reasons why He died are taught in the administration of the Sacrament.
The Unique Wording of Each Sacrament Prayer
I’ve also learned to listen more carefully to the words of the Sacrament prayers. I’ve noticed a distinct difference that has enhanced my faith and encouraged me to more fully live my covenants.
The Sacrament prayer can be found in D&C 20:77 and 79. The beginning of each is very similar.
|Prayer for the bread||Prayer for the water|
|O God, the Eternal Father,||O God, the Eternal Father,|
|we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ,||we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ,|
|to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it,||to bless and sanctify this [water] to the souls of all those who drink of it;|
|that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son,||that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them;|
|and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father;||that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father;|
To this point in the prayer, the words are almost verbatim, only changing for bread vs. water, how to ingest it, and what it is partaken in remembrance of. Then, things change.
|Prayer for the bread (cont.)||Prayer for the water (cont.)|
|that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them;||that they do always remember him,|
|that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.||that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.|
What we are willing to do represents how we use our agency. It’s what we want, what we choose, what we desire to do.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “What we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.”
Clearly, what we desire, what we are willing to do and be makes a huge impact on our eternal lives. Being willing to take on Christ’s name, remember Him, and keep His commandments are our first covenants (through baptism).
What we will matters! But entirely alone, it’s not enough.
And so, we have the next prayer. “That [we] do always remember Him.” Yes, we must be willing, but we also must do. God requires our willing heart and our obedience.
It won’t be perfect. We will make mistakes in our doing, but that’s what the Atonement and Savior are for!
The next time we partake of the Sacrament, let us consider what we are willing to do for the Savior, and then commit to doing it. Then His joyful, peaceful, hopeful Spirit will always be with us.
What have you learned from taking the Sacrament?