We Do God's Work on Earth Through the Priesthood

When Performing Ordinances We Draw on His Divine Power

Mormon baptism
Mormon Baptism — Baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints requires full immersion in water by a person who holds the priesthood authority to baptize. Photo courtesy of © 2010 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The priesthood is the divine authority and power that is delegated by Heavenly Father. Everything the Church, or its members do, is based upon this authority. In addition, each level of the priesthood has its own name and responsibilities. To learn more about priesthood authority and organization, read the following:

  • Divine Priesthood Power and Authority
  • How Priesthood Organization and Structure Operates

    Below, you will learn what ordinances exist and the guidelines for how to perform them.

    Saving Ordinances, Other Ordinances and Blessings

    An ordinance is a sacred act. It is performed by a priesthood holder. The person receiving the ordinance has generally made some sacred promise or covenant. The ordinance itself seals the person's promises or covenants.

    Some ordinances, such as baptism and temple marriage, are necessary for our salvation. These are called saving ordinances. Other ordinances and blessings include administering to the sick or dedicating graves.

    List of Saving Ordinances:

    List of Other Ordinances and Blessings:

    • Conferring the priesthood on a recipient
    • Ordaining to an office of the priesthood
    • Setting apart officers and teachers in the Church
    • Consecrating oil for administering to the sick
    • Administering to the sick.
    • Naming and blessing children
    • A Father's blessing to his children or child
    • Blessings of comfort and counsel to family members and others
    • Dedicating graves of the deceased
    • Dedicating homes and dwellings
    • Giving patriarchal blessings

    All ordinances and blessings must be performed by an authorized priesthood holder.

    The level of authorization differs for each ordinance or blessing.

    Who Can Do What, When, Why and How?

    Any priesthood holder has a line of authority. The line of authority specifically names who he received his priesthood authority from and who they received their priesthood authority from going all the way back to Jesus Christ. All lines of authority can ultimately be traced back to the Savior.

    Every time a priesthood holder is advanced in the priesthood it continues an unbroken line of authority. Every leader in the Church has been ordained to that office by someone who holds the priesthood and has delegated authority to confer the priesthood or ordain someone to an office beneath them.

    For example, a father who holds the Melchizedek priesthood has the necessary priesthood authority to bless and name his own child. However, he must only do so under the direction of a local priesthood leader, such as the current Bishop.

    Any male priesthood holder that holds the Priest level in the Aaronic priesthood, or any office in the Melchizedek priesthood, has the necessary priesthood authority to baptize someone. However, it may only be done under the direction of a local priesthood leader, such as the current Bishop.

    Melchizedek Priesthood holders in good standing can do some things on their own initiative without seeking direction from local leaders such as consecrating oil, administering to the sick, giving blessings of comfort and council and dedicating homes.

    Any Priesthood Ordinance or Blessing Must Include Certain Procedures

    All ordinances and blessings are done in the name of Jesus Christ. Some ordinances and blessings must include some stock phrases and words. Guidance for all of these can be found in the Handbooks and other Church instruction.

    For example, two Melchizedek priesthood holders are required to administer to the sick. There are certain words and phrases they must use. However, the one sealing the anointing may speak as prompted by the spirit after the necessary words and phrases have been spoken.

    In doing so, he serves as the vehicle for Heavenly Father to give additional counsel, instruction or blessings to the ill person.

    Ordinances are Conducted by the Laying on of Hands

    The laying on of hands is quite simple. Most of the time, the priesthood holder(s) places his hands gently on the head of the person receiving the ordinance.

    During a baptism, the priesthood holder must immerse people fully in water and then bring them up out of the water. To do so, he holds a person's wrist with one hand and exerts gentle pressure on their back with his other as they come up out of the water. The person being baptized grasps the priesthood holder's arm and bends backward as he immerses them in the water.

    Receiving, using and exercising the priesthood is something all LDS men and boys take seriously. Heavenly Father holds them accountable for anything done in His name.