Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grammatical Study of the Sacrament Prayer on the Bread

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. (D&C 20:77)
Let’s start with the verbs and verbals. What do we find?

Are willing
Take upon
Has Given
May Have
Be with

There are so many things we can say about this list. It indicates that taking the sacrament is not just one action, but many. Some actions are visible and others aren’t. And I can see that if I am not strenuously engaged in those actions that are not outwardly visible, I am clearly not doing my part and the ordinance is merely “dead works.”

Something else I can see from this list is that there are actions that the Lord does and actions that we do. The Lord does the “bless, sanctify, has given, be with”. We do the “ask, partake, eat, are willing, remember, keep, and may have.”

How about the nouns in the prayer? (There’s a lot of pronouns in there too, so I am leaving them out.)

Jesus Christ
all those who partake of it

Something I notice from this list is that the whole Godhead appears in it. Each member of the Godhead is performing a special role. God the Father will bless and sanctify the bread so that the ordinance can be done to salvation. The Son, Jesus Christ acts as an advocate, since the ordinance is done in His name. He gave commandments, which are referred to. He was born on earth, He died, and was resurrected, which is implied by the mere reference to His body. The same reference to His body also evokes His voluntary sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Finally, Spirit acts as a constant companion to the worthy partakers.

I also notice that “the name of thy Son” occurs twice in the prayer. The first time it is used as part of the petition and the second it is something taken on by the partaker. To me this suggests the hope of a change in identity that is to lead to a change in nature.

Okay. What adjectives and adverbs can we find and what do they teach us?

Eternal (Father)
Eternal (Father)
Always (remember)
Always (have)

The only true adjectives and adverbs are focused on eternity. This is a sign to me that this ordinance is of God and that God’s work is to bring us to be more like Him. That “always remember” suggests to me that my memory and gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice can last beyond mortal life into the eternities.

What words in the sacrament prayers strike you as being especially significant? What experiences have brought you greater meaning as you have taken the sacrament?


S.Faux said...

What an excellent way to analyze the sacrament prayer!! Thinking about the verbs and nouns places the prayer into a larger perspective, I think. Great thoughts. Thank you.

Papa D said...

Excellent thoughts. Thank you!


Gdub said...

That's an awesome way to examine things! Thanks for pointing this out to me!