I Can’t Do It
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“I Can’t Do It,” Ensign, Apr. 1993, 59–60

“I Can’t Do It”

Jerry*, a newly ordained priest, knelt before the sacrament table to offer the prayer on the bread. The quiver in his voice betrayed his nervousness, and he stumbled on his words. He began again. The anxiety in his voice grew. Then another mistake, and he had to start all over once more.

Finally, after Jerry had made three unsuccessful attempts, the bishop walked over to the table, knelt beside Jerry, and offered the sacred prayer for him.

Jerry was a cheerful young man. He excelled in athletics and had a pleasing personality. He was liked at school and in the ward. But Jerry could barely read. When called upon to read in public, his disability worsened.

Learning to offer the sacrament prayer without stumbling would be a difficult challenge, but the bishop privately expressed to Jerry that he had confidence in him. He knew that even if Jerry was not able to offer the prayer correctly, it was important to let Jerry know he was concerned about him and supportive of his efforts. He asked Jerry to study the prayer and to let him know when he was ready to try again.

Jerry made several attempts to offer the prayer. Sometimes he was successful, other times he wasn’t. But despite his frequent failures, Jerry always tried again.

One Sunday, as Jerry sat at the sacrament table, several stake visitors took their seats near him. With the added pressure of wanting to do well for the stake visitors, Jerry was unable to offer the prayer. His fellow priest had to offer both prayers.

Afterwards, Jerry dejectedly told the bishop, “No more—I can’t do it!” He asked for a different assignment to allow him to satisfy his priesthood responsibilities.

The bishop and the priests quorum adviser discussed Jerry’s situation. They were concerned about Jerry and wanted him to know of their love and support. Finally it was decided that the adviser, Steve, would privately coach Jerry every Sunday. The two spent many weeks working together.

Finally, Jerry and Steve invited the bishop to join them for a practice session. Steve challenged Jerry, “Read the prayer and then recite it without looking.”

Jerry read the prayer from the card, then he recited it. Both times, the sacred prayer was offered perfectly.

As he shook the bishop’s hand, Jerry said confidently, “I’m ready to bless the sacrament today!”

As sacrament meeting began, the bishop watched Jerry’s family. He could see that they were silently praying for Jerry. Steve, sitting with his family, had expressed confidence that Jerry would succeed. The bishop offered his own silent prayer in Jerry’s behalf.

As Jerry knelt, he felt the confidence he had gained from practicing with Steve. Flawlessly, he offered the sacrament prayer. As Jerry rose to his feet, his smile displayed his joy at conquering his fears. He would have no further problems blessing the sacrament.

  • Name has been changed.

  • David De Ford is first counselor in the bishopric of the Nottingham Country Ward, Katy Texas Stake.