Just a random thought I had…
In Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood, B, it states the following with respect to performing priesthood ordinances and blessings:
All ordinances must be performed by the authority of the priesthood. Only brethren who hold the necessary priesthood and are worthy should perform or stand in the circle for an ordinance.
As an example, to bless a child, one should:
- Addresses Heavenly Father.
- States that the blessing is performed by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
- Gives the child a name.
- Gives a priesthood blessing as the Spirit directs.
- Closes in the name of Jesus Christ.
So I wonder why priesthood holders (almost universally) substitute the word power for authority?
Reading dictionary definitions for power, I can see where the confusion might come from. Some definitions given are:
- ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something
- great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force
- delegated authority; authority granted to a person or persons in a particular office or capacity: the powers of the president
- a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence
However, I don’t think those fit with a gospel definition of power. In a gospel context, I think we use the word power with its physics definition:
The amount of work per unit of time
I don’t see priesthood power as being the ability to act in behalf of God. I think that is why they specifically mention that blessings, etc.. are to be done by stating the authority. Priesthood power comes from the work accomplished in a given amount of time.
If we continue to break down the definition of power using physics definitions, we will see that work is defined as
Force producing movement in the direction force is applied
I really like this definition. In order for there to be “work” you need movement in the direction that force is applied. I often think of this definition in opening exercises in priesthood meeting. The following happens often:
Ward Mission Leader: “Does anyone have a missionary moment that they’d like to share?”
Peter Priesthood raises his hand. WML motions for PP to share his ‘moment’
PP: “Last week I was talking to a less active friend of mine…..”
Good old Peter Priesthood feels good that he did some ‘missionary work’, but by definition, he didn’t. Missionary work is defined as “Bringing souls to Christ through the ordinances of baptism and confirmation.” To do missionary work, you would need to have movement in the direction force was applied. But since Peter’s less active friend was already baptized, this falls under Perfect the Saints. So what we end up having is a ward thinking that they are doing Missionary Work when in fact they are ignoring it and mistaking what they do for perfect the saints (is it any wonder our church wide missionary program is struggling?).
Anyway, back on topic…
There is no ‘Priesthood Power’ unless we are actually doing something and getting a result. Performing an ordinance or blessing really doesn’t involve any power at all on behalf of the person giving the blessing or performing the ordinance. When I have given healing blessings, and the one being blessed is healed, I didn’t actually do anything. There was no part of me that healed this person. That was God’s power at work. All I did was say a few words for Him because He wasn’t there to say them himself. I acted in his name, by his authority.
Power from me would perhaps be in the form of providing service (shovelling snow, etc…) or getting something accomplished. Such acts really don’t require the priesthood to perform. True priesthood power comes from God, not man. I may be wrong on that, but it seems to fit the definition and context.
For those who think you have the power in and of yourself, I think you share a little something in common with the fella’ mentioned in D&C 29: 36 and Moses 4:1. Not really the best company to be in methinks.
So, next time you’re getting ready to give that blessing, remember that you really aren’t doing anything except saying a few words for someone who isn’t there to do it themselves. Your just an understudy, a proxy, a stand-in for the guy with the real power. You might want to show respect and honour to Him who’s power it really is by properly stating the authority you are acting under.