The sacrament prayers, which were revealed by the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith, are among the few set prayers in the Church, and the only ones members are commanded to offer "often" (D&C 20:75). They are offered regularly during the administration of the ordinance of the sacrament in sacrament meeting, occupying a central place in the religious lives of Latter-day Saints. They originate in ancient practice and, with one exception (the current use of water instead of wine), preserve the wording of Nephite sacramental prayers:
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 hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen. (Moroni 4:3)
O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this 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. (Moroni 5:2)
The prayers, in turn, formalize language used by the resurrected Savior when he visited the Americas (3 Ne. 18:5—11; cf. D&C 20:75—79). Subsequent to a revelation in August 1830 (D&C 27) water has been used instead of wine.
No such exact wording of the prayers is included in the New Testament. However, one scholar has detected parallels between Latter-day Saint sacrament prayers and ancient eucharistic formulas (Barker, pp. 53—56). The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) confirms that key elements of the sacrament prayers were part of the original Last Supper: Jesus included covenantal obligations similar to those in the prayers (JST Matt. 26:25) and made clear that his action introduced a formal "ordinance" that they were to repeat often (JST Mark 14:24). Further, in the JST, Jesus does not say, "This is my body," and "This is my blood"—metaphors whose interpretation has historically divided Christians on the matter of "transubstantiation." He said instead, "This is in remembrance of my body," and "This is in remembrance of my blood" (JST Matt. 26:22, 24; cf. JST Mark 14:21, 23).
The sacrament prayers invite personal introspection, repentance, and rededication, yet they are also communal, binding individuals into congregations who jointly and publicly attest to their willingness to remember Christ. This shared commitment to become like Christ, repeated weekly, defines the supreme aspiration of Latter-day Saint life.
Barker, James L. The Protestors of Christendom. Independence, Mo., 1946.
Tanner, John S. "Reflections on the Sacrament Prayers." Ensign 16 (Apr. 1986): 7—11.
Welch, John W. "The Nephite Sacrament Prayers." FARMS Update. Provo, Utah, 1986.
Anderson, Richard Lloyd. "Religious Validity: The Sacrament Covenant in Third Nephi." In By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley, edited by John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, 2:1—51. Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990.
John S. Tanner