A few weeks ago, in response to my post on communion, a reader asked for more info on taking personal, daily communion. I recognize this is a practice not accepted by all streams of Christianity. Some believe that communion, or the Eucharist, can only be administered by an ordained member of the clergy.
Early Church Fathers
This position is supported in the early church. For example, Ignatius (A.D. 30-107), one of the earliest church fathers, wrote, “Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.”
Before the end of the first century, the simple gospel of Jesus had been organized into hierarchies called churches (ekklesias). These churches had deacons, elders, and bishops who ruled over them. Paul was foremost among the establishers of these positions as we see in his pastoral epistles (1 Timothy, Titus). Organizing and establishing is a common human trait and I’m sure this was deemed necessary to corral and make sense of this new ekklesia Jesus had established. The churches that follow this practice have good scriptural reasons.
Jesus and the Gospels
But there is another stream that harkens back even further than Paul and Ignatius. One that originates with Jesus, to the gospels. Before the ekklesia was organized into a human structure. When Jesus established what we now call the Lord’s Supper, he did it in a family context. With a dozen or so of his best friends. His family. Over dinner. And he simply said, “When you do this (break bread together), remember me.” And then he went on to explain the unexplainable (at that time) to them, telling them that the bread was his body, broken for them and the wine was the blood of the new covenant poured out for them (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22).
With the advantage of hindsight, those words now make sense. Sort of. We know what they mean in the context of His atoning and victorious sacrifice for us. We could argue about the setting. Can we remember Jesus only when we’re at family dinner? Only when we’re with others? Or can we remember Jesus and His mercies any time we break bread? Or any time?
So that brings me to personal communion. I love taking communion at church or in a small group. I would love to make it part of our family dinners. But that isn’t always possible. And to me, the benefits of communion outweigh the location.
I believe that as I remember Jesus in communion, there is something profound that happens. I wouldn’t go so far as transubstantiation, but neither would I go to the opposite—fond recollection. I believe that as I break the bread and drink the cup and remember Jesus, He actually does something. That He is available in a powerful way that does allow me to re-member and re-present Him.
There’s Power in the Body and the Blood
My most common practice is to pray, confess as needed, and then to concentrate on the bread. As I break it I remember His broken, tortured body and I invite His broken body into my broken body, soul, and spirit to heal in whatever area I need it.
When I take the cup, I remember that there is power in the blood and life in the blood. I ask that as the liquid enters my body, that Jesus would take it to every cell. I ask that He would cleanse all toxins, viruses, bacteria, or anything that doesn’t belong in each cell and that he would heal anything that needs healing. I specifically mention those areas of my body that need a boost. I have a very weak immune system, so I ask Him to build up the antibodies to their original design. For my husband with Parkinson’s, I ask that He restore the dopamine receptors. I believe that by focusing on—remembering—the healing power of Jesus, I am making myself available for Him to act and heal.
Could he heal without communion? Of course. But I find that communion causes me to set aside a holy moment in which I re-member and re-present Him. It causes me to invite the Jesus into my deepest needs. It also causes me to focus on gratitude for all He’s already done for me. For the gift of salvation. For previous healing. For the life I enjoy in this nation. For my family. I can go on and on with gratitude, and I often do.
Personal communion causes me to come aside for a few minutes and focus on Jesus with my whole being. To remember Him.
You might ask about the logistics. Of course you can grab a chunk of bread and a glass of juice or wine. Some people even have special plates and cups dedicated to their personal communion.
I can’t always depend on my pantry, so I’ve taken to using the communion with the wafer and cup in one simple package. I’ve found two companies that produce these, although I know there are others. I buy mine from Amazon. Celebration Cup and Broadman Church Supplies both offer boxes of 100 sets. These are also available from ChristianBook.com. Prices vary, so shop around and look for sales.
I keep these in my room and usually take communion during my morning prayer time. But they’re available for any time I feel the need to re-member Jesus.
I hope you’ll consider starting the habit of personal communion. I can tell you that I’m healthier than ever before and that my faith has become more firmly anchored since I’ve begun this practice. Let me know how you implement it.
 Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrnæans: Shorter and Longer Versions, quoted in Schaff, Philip (1819-1893), ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.html