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Sacrament Prayersby John S. Tanner
The Sacrament prayers, which were revealed by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith, are among the few set prayers in the Church, and the only ones members are commanded to offer "often" (D&C 20:75). They are offered regularly during the administration of the ordinance of the Sacrament in Sacrament meeting, occupying a central place in the religious lives of Latter-day Saints. They originate in ancient practice and, with one exception (the current use of water instead of wine), preserve the wording of Nephite sacramental prayers:
The prayers, in turn, formalize language used by the resurrected Savior when he visited the Americas (3 Ne. 18:5-11; cf. D&C 20:75-79). Subsequent to a revelation in August 1830 (D&C 27) water has been used instead of wine.
No such exact wording of the prayers is included in the New Testament. However, one scholar has detected parallels between Latter-day Saint Sacrament prayers and ancient eucharistic formulas (Barker, pp. 53-56). The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) confirms that key elements of the Sacrament prayers were part of the original Last Supper: Jesus included covenantal obligations similar to those in the prayers (JST Matt. 26:25) and made clear that his action introduced a formal "ordinance" that they were to repeat often (JST Mark 14:24). Further, in the JST, Jesus does not say, "This is my body," and "This is my blood"metaphors whose interpretation has historically divided Christians on the matter of "transubstantiation." He said instead, "This is in remembrance of my body," and "This is in remembrance of my blood" (JST Matt. 26:22, 24; cf. JST Mark 14:21, 23).
The Sacrament prayers invite personal introspection, repentance, and rededication, yet they are also communal, binding individuals into congregations who jointly and publicly attest to their willingness to remember Christ. This shared commitment to become like Christ, repeated weekly, defines the supreme aspiration of Latter-day Saint life.
(See Sacrament; Partaking of the Sacrament family home evening lesson; Basic Beliefs home page; Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Priesthood Organization home page; Priesthood Ordinances home page)
Barker, James L. The Protestors of Christendom. Independence, Mo., 1946.
Tanner, John S. "Reflections on the Sacrament Prayers." Ensign 16 (Apr. 1986):7-11.
Welch, John W. "The Nephite Sacrament Prayers." F.A.R.M.S. Update. Provo, Utah, 1986.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Sacrament Prayers
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company