Partaking of the sacrament is an ordinance that Jesus Christ initiated as a part of his Church during his earthly ministry. Matthew 26:26-28 tells how Christ administered this first sacrament:
- [A]nd as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Latter-day Saints continue performing this same ordinance as a way to remember Christ and his gift.
The sacrament is the most important part of Sabbath day worship for Mormons. It is a time when they focus on the Savior and renew their efforts to live his commandments. Each week, when Mormons gather for Sabbath day worship, the first thing they do is partake of the sacrament. The meeting during which the sacrament is passed is called "Sacrament Meeting."
The Sacramental Prayers
The sacrament is administered by the priesthood. Deacons and teachers may pass the sacrament, and priests generally bless the sacrament. However, any male holding a higher priesthood can perform these ordinances. For example an Elder, who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, can bless the sacrament, but a deacon or teacher cannot, because they hold a lower priesthood.
The officiating priest kneels and blesses the bread first and then the water, reciting prayers given by revelation. These prayers are found in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 20, verses 77 and 79:
|Blessing on the Bread||Blessing on the Water (wine)|
|O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, 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 has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.||O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this water (wine) to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.|
These prayers, along with the baptismal blessing, are the only prayers that must be recited verbatim. In a later revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord Jesus Christ declared that any food and drink can be used for the sacrament, just so long as the ordinance is performed with an eye single to God's glory (see D&C 27). Wine is no longer used in the sacrament, though if "new wine" of their own make, it may be used; accordingly the original blessing has been changed slightly, changing the word "wine" to its current-day use, "water."