The prayers offered over the sacramental bread and water were given by revelation to Joseph Smith in 1820 (Doctrine & Covenants 20:75-79). They are nearly (but not precisely) identical to the prayers offered in the ancient American church as recorded by Moroni (Moroni 4, 5).
Moroni recorded those prayers in about 421 A.D. But much of the text of the prayers comes directly from the instructions that Jesus gave during His visit to the American continent. The following table shows the similarities between the words of the Savior and the words of the prayers.
|The Savior taught…||The prayers say…|
|“Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19).||O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ,|
|He that eateth this bread eateth of my body to his soul; and he that drinketh of this wine drinketh of my blood to his soul (3 Nephi 20:8).||to bless and sanctify this [bread/wine] to the souls of all those who [partake/drink] of it|
|And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you (3 Nephi 18:7)
and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you (3 Nephi 18:11)
|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 it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me (3 Nephi 18:7)
this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you (3 Nephi 18:10)
that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me (3 Nephi 18:11)
|and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them
that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him
|And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you (3 Nephi 18:7, 11)||that they may [always] have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.|
Today, I will ponder the instructions the Savior gave to the Nephites when He instituted the sacrament among them:
- we eat and drink the bread and water to our souls
- we do this in remembrance of His body and blood
- participation serves as a tangible affirmation that we will always remember Him
- if we always remember Him, we will have His Spirit to be with us
I will be grateful that those key principles are repeated each Sunday before we eat the bread and again before we drink the water to help us focus our minds on what we are doing and why we are doing it.