You Can Write Your Blessings: Some questions for you

In his book, Memorable Stories with a Message, President Boyd K. Packer shared a story that can be an invitation to each of us.

Donna and I attended an unusual dinner at the home of one of our beloved friends. It was a New Year’s Eve party. Our host had an activity for the evening. He read a quotation from Heber C. Kimball: “I have said often, you may write blessings for yourselves and insert every good thing you can think of, and it will all come to pass on your heads, if you do right.” (From an address in the Old Tabernacle, August 1853.)

He gave each of us a sheet of paper and an envelope and suggested we write upon the paper the things we hoped to achieve in the new year. We were asked to seal the envelope and put our name on it. “I will take these to the bank and put them in the vault,” he said. “A year from now we will meet again and have a dinner and I will deliver them to you. And we will tell if you wish, how nearly we have achieved our goals.” We thoughtfully set our goals that night and sealed them up, and they were delivered to the vault to lay unopened for a full year. Six things were on our list, each relating to a blessing for someone dear. Each seemed near to the impossible. One, for instance related to a sister and … marriage. Worthiness was no problem; it was her body so crippled with disease that a [marriage] was out of the question or was it?

The year rolled by and the envelopes were delivered to us again. During the year, with those goals in mind, we had prayed now and then, and then little opportunities came by. They would have gone unnoticed if we had not set the goals. We were able to move forward, first with one goal, then with another. Five impossible things had happened. The sixth related to the solution of a problem of a friend. It was on New Year’s Eve that I received a telephone call from across the country. My friend excitedly told me that his problem had been solved. He knew nothing of the notes in the envelope.  (7-8.)

Can we really write our own blessings?
What limitations are suitable for the blessings we write?
What keeps us from doing it?
Why not begin right now?

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  • Reply Jim January 27, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I’m a great believer in the power of positive thinking as it pertains directly to my life- the things that I can directly “control.”

    I have noticed too that there is power to committing goals or even “to-do’s” to writing- that those things that I write seem more likely to be done than things that I think of but do not write.

    At the same time, I am skeptical of making a goal that relies to some extent on the agency of another. For example, if I am a missionary, I can easily make a goal of the number of hours I plan to study, to proselyte, etc. But it is another matter to even prayerfully and with inspiration to set a goal for the number of people that I plan to baptize. I can do all in my power to find people to teach, to teach them with the spirit, to help them make and keep commitments, etc., but ultimately the decision to be baptized is theirs, not mine. If someone chooses to not be baptized, is this somehow a reflection of my lack of faith?

    Or, if I’m reluctant to make a goal that relies on another’s agency, does that reflect a lack of faith on my part?

    • Reply admin January 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm

      Yes, Jim. As we write our goals, we must be sensitive to the agency of others. Maybe that is why we must sense from God what goals He would have us set.


  • Reply Candleman January 28, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    I don’t have any doubt that Elder Packer and President Heber C. Kimball were absolutely correct. Still, I’d sure like more details, especially from Elder Packer.

    I’m not too comfortable specifying which blessings God might give me.

    I don’t look upon Him as a vending machine.

    I’ve found things work better, for me, to ask God what He’d like me to do, rather than presuming to direct Him around the universe.

    I’m a lot more comfortable waiting to see what He has to give me, that telling Him what I want.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I have hopes, dreams and even goals. But I don’t have any terms. Wanting life on my terms always leads to disaster. Accepting life on God’s terms, on the other hand is relaxing, rewarding, amazing and divine. God’s great gifts always exceed my feeble hopes and desires. I’ve had occasion to suspect that insisting on my own desires, which were granted, precluded something better. Can’t have that!

    • Reply admin January 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm

      Yes, Candleman. You’re right. But I wonder if submitting to His will and making requests can be merged into one seamless whole. Maybe when we sit peacefully with God, He will give us the right desires. Then, when we ask for the things we want, He gladly grants them.

      This way He is teaching us to do exactly what He does: Act with great power while being in total alignment with Truth, Goodness, Eternity, Law.

      What do you think?


  • Reply Kristen January 29, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    As we discussed this in my home, we also wished for more details. I feel very inspired when I read something like this, but then questions arise:
    *Are goals and blessings the same thing? I’ve always thought of goals as something you work on and have control over, and blessings as something you request.
    *If I don’t receive the blessing I’ve asked for, does that mean I ‘didn’t do right’?
    I think confusion about the correct way to approach God in some matters is what keeps me from doing it.
    I’d like to hear more of Dr. Wally’s thoughts.

  • Reply Candleman January 29, 2009 at 5:04 pm


    You are absolute right. You also have more experience with knowing His will than I have.

    When Jesus went to raise Lazarus from the dead He “lifted up [his] eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” (John 11:41)

    Clearly he had desired to restore Lazarus to life, had sought approbation from the Father and received it. There is no reason we should not expect the same. It is more likely, though, that I might “ask amiss”, than it was for the Savior.

    I am hopeful that such a day will come for me. It has on occasion, particularly when giving Priesthood blessings, for which I am especially grateful. But, for the most part, I’m not entirely certain what God has in mind or in store.

    Perhaps I am too laid back about this, lacking curiosity or something. But I kind of like not knowing. God has never let me down and the element of surprise really enlivens my days. These days, being in recovery from addiction, I spend my time in the moment. I seldom look much into the future (or the past)and have no interest in having any control over what comes. God is in the driver’s seat and I’m content to enjoy the ride!

  • Reply Charmaine January 29, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    “Six things were on our list, each relating to a blessing for someone dear.”

    “…you may write blessings for yourselves and insert every good thing you can think of…”

    This is my question, are these two quotes from the article the same concept? Is there a difference in wishing something for ourselves and going to work or wishing for something that doesn’t depend on anything we do except maybe exercise faith?

    I like the little talked about parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18) “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” If our cause is just will God hear our “continual coming?” “I tell you that he will.” Does not giving up make a difference?

  • Reply samantha harris husband: Writing Stuff Down to Get What You Need « dqian February 11, 2009 at 12:30 am

    […] today (and for the full account of President Packer’s referenced story, you can check out this entry over at Dr. Wally’s […]

  • Reply catherine December 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Please provide a link or reference if possible to Pres Packer story.

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