Saturday, February 5, 2005

Elements of Worship

Coloring Key:
Black- Pres. McKay- handout
Blue- Pres. McKay- I just read
Red- My thoughts & other quotes

Elements of Worship Ch 4 of Teachings of David O. McKay
Life O David O McKay

“One of the most impressive services I have ever attended was in a group of over eight hundred people to whom the sacrament was administered, and during that administration not a sound could be heard excepting the ticking of the clock—eight hundred souls, each of whom at least had the opportunity of communion with the Lord. There was no distraction, no orchestra, no singing, no speaking. Each one had an opportunity to search himself introspectively and to consider his worthiness or unworthiness to partake of the sacrament. His was the privilege of getting closer to his Father in heaven. That is ideal!”

President McKay encouraged all Latter-day Saints to pursue this ideal in their worship services and in their personal lives. He said, “To have communion with God, through his Holy Spirit, is one of the noblest aspirations of life.”

Reverence is profound respect mingled with love.

1. Inseparable from the acceptance of the existence of God is an attitude of reverence, to which I wish now to call attention most earnestly to the entire Church. The greatest manifestation of spirituality is reverence; indeed, reverence is spirituality. Reverence is profound respect mingled with love. Reverence is the fundamental virtue in religion. It is “one of the signs of strength; irreverence, one of the surest indications of weakness. No man will rise high,” says one man, “who jeers at sacred things. The fine loyalties of life,” he continues, “must be reverenced or they will be foresworn [or rejected] in the day of trial.”

I found it interesting that The Encyclopedia of Mormonism used this quote in their definition of reverence.

2. Parents, Reverence, as charity, begins at home. In early childhood children should be trained to be respectful… reverential to things sacred, to parents and parental love. Three influences in home life awaken reverence in children and contribute to its development in their souls. These are: first, firm but Gentle Guidance; second, Courtesy shown by parents to each other, and to children; and third, Prayer in which children participate. In every home in this Church parents should strive to act intelligently in impressing children with those three fundamentals.

3. Reverence directs thought toward God. Without it there is no religion. I look upon reverence as one of the highest qualities of the soul. An irreverent man is not a believing man. … Reverence indicates high culture, and true faith in deity and in his righteousness. I am prompted to place reverence next to love. Jesus mentioned it first in the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. …” [Matthew 6:9.] Hallow—to make holy—to hold in reverence. If there were more reverence in human hearts, there would be less room for sin and sorrow and more increased capacity for joy and gladness.

What exactly is reverence, is it just sitting still with your arms to you r side, what is it?

I believe that it is displayed in our actions, but that it is a state of mind, a state of perfect learning, a state ready to be taught divinely.

Joseph Smith Taught: The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching. (HC) 4:425

This kind of teaching can not come without perfect reverence of mind and actions.

Meditation leads to spiritual communion with God through the Holy Spirit.

4. We pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion. In our worship there are two elements: One is spiritual communion arising from our own meditation; the other, instruction from others, particularly from those who have authority to guide and instruct us. Of the two, the more profitable introspectively is the meditation. Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as “a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.” Meditation is a form of prayer

I know for myself, I need to study this language more than I have been.

5. Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord. Jesus set the example for us. As soon as he was baptized and received the Father’s approval, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” [Matthew 3:17] Jesus [went] to what is now known as the mount of temptation. I like to think of it as the mount of meditation where, during the forty days of fasting, he communed with himself and his Father, and contemplated upon the responsibility of his great mission… Before… the beautiful sermon on the mount, he was in solitude, in communion….Again, after Jesus had fed the five thousand he told the Twelve to dismiss the multitude, but Jesus went to the mountain for solitude (Matt. 14:23.) Meditation! Prayer!

If Jesus can spend 40 days and 40 nights in Meditation, can we spend at least 10 minutes a day?

Ezra Taft Benson said, " When you pray-when you talk to your Heavenly Father-do you really talk out your problems with Him? Do you let Him know your feelings, your doubts, your insecurities, your joys, your deepest desires? Or is prayer merely a habitual expression with the same words and phrases? Do you ponder what you really mean to say? Do you take time to listen to the promptings of the Spirit? Answers to prayer come most often by a still voice and are discerned by our deepest, innermost feelings. I tell you that you can know the will of God concerning yourselves if you will take the time to pray and to listen.

We should find an appropriate place where we can meditate and pray. We are admonished that this should be "in [our] closets, and [our] secret places, and in [our] wilderness." That is, it should be free from distraction, in secret. We should prepare ourselves for prayer. If we do not feel like praying, then we should pray until we do feel like praying. We should be humble (DC 112:10). We should pray for forgiveness and mercy. We must forgive anyone against whom we have bad feelings.

If meditation is a form of prayer than the words of Nephi should help us see the importance of meditation.

2 Nephi 32: 8 & 9

And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing. For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the devil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.

But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

Can we not liken prayer with meditation, if we desire to have communion with our Savior? I think they go hand in hand. Herold B. Lee would dedicate 1 hour everyday to meditation, he saw the importance. I challenge all of us to find a little time each day to meditate and establish communion with our Savior.

6. Let us make God the center of our lives. … To have communion with God, through his Holy Spirit, is one of the noblest aspirations of life. It is when the peace and love of God have entered the soul, when serving him becomes the motivating factor in one’s life and existence.

This should be our state of nind at all times, and if it is, we will see the powers of heaven active in our lives in all areas.

I thought I would just share something that I found about Josph Smith, he said, “It is my meditation all the day, and more than my meat and drink, to know how I shall make the Saints of God comprehend the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind.

God was the center of his life even more than food and water, I am constantly impressed with Joseph’s zeal for the Gospel.

We go to the Lord’s house to commune with Him in spirit.

7. The place of meeting… makes little or no difference in our approach and attitude toward the Infinite Presence. To know God is there should be sufficient to impel us to conduct ourselves orderly, reverently.

8. There are two purposes for which each chapel is constructed: first, that it might be the place where all may be trained in the ways of God, and second, that in it all might glorify our Father in heaven, who asks for nothing more of his children than that they might be men and women of such noble character as to come back into his presence. When you enter a church building, you are coming into the presence of our Father in heaven; and that thought should be sufficient incentive for you to prepare your hearts, your minds, and even your attire, that you might appropriately and properly sit in his presence.

9. Let us not make Sunday a holiday. It is a holy day, and on that day we should go to the house of worship and seek our God. If we seek him on the Sabbath day, get into his presence on that day, we shall find it less difficult to be in his presence the following days of the week.

The sacrament provides an opportunity to commune with the Lord.

10. The greatest comfort in this life is the assurance of having close relationship with God. … The sacrament period should be a factor in awakening this sense of relationship. No more sacred ordinance is administered in the Church… than the administration of the sacrament. …

“… the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.” [1 Corinthians 11:23–28.]

11. There are three things fundamentally important associated with the administration of the sacrament. The first is self-discernment. It is introspection. “This do in remembrance of me,” but we should partake worthily, each one examining himself with respect to his worthiness… Secondly, there is a covenant made… Thirdly, there… is a sense of close relationship with the Lord. There is an opportunity to commune with oneself and to commune with the Lord. … I believe the short period of administering the sacrament is one of the best opportunities we have for … meditation, and there should be nothing during that sacred period to distract our attention from the purpose of that ordinance. …

Great events have happened in this Church because of such communion, because of the responsiveness of the soul to the inspiration of the Almighty. I know it is real. President Wilford Woodruff had that gift to a great extent. He could respond; he knew the “still small voice” to which some are still strangers. You will find that when these most inspirational moments come to you that you are alone with yourself and your God. They come to you probably when you are facing a great trial, when the wall is across your pathway, and it seems that you are facing an insurmountable obstacle, or when your heart is heavy because of some tragedy in your life. I repeat, the greatest comfort that can come to us in this life is to sense the realization of communion with God. Great testimonies have come in those moments. …

12. … We [must] surround this sacred ordinance with more reverence, with perfect order, that each one who comes to the house of God may meditate upon his goodness and silently and prayerfully express appreciation for God’s goodness. Let the sacrament hour be one experience of the day in which the worshiper tries at least to realize within himself that it is possible for him to commune with his God.… Let us make that sacrament hour one of the most impressive means of coming in contact with God’s spirit. Let the Holy Ghost, to which we are entitled, lead us into his presence, and may we sense that nearness, and have a prayer offered in our hearts which he will hear.

Suggestions for Study and Discussion

• What does it mean to have “an attitude of reverence”? (See pages 30–31.) In what ways is reverence more than just being quiet? How can we develop this “profound respect mingled with love”?

• How can we teach the principle of reverence in our homes and at church? (See pages 31, 33.)

• Why is it sometimes difficult to find time to meditate upon the things of God? What can we do to make time for meditation? What blessings can we receive as a result of our meditation? (See pages 31–32, 35–36.)

• What can we do to prepare ourselves to “go to the Lord’s house … [and] commune with him in spirit”? (See pages 32–36.) How can we prepare ourselves to partake of the sacrament? (See pages 32–36.)

• In what ways can we help our children and others be more reverent in the temple, during sacrament meeting, and in other Church meetings? (See pages 31, 33.) How does coming to a meeting late or leaving early disrupt reverence?

• What is the significance of the sacrament in your life?

Related Scriptures: Psalm 89:5–7; D&C 20:75–79; D&C 63:64; D&C 76:19–24; D&C 109:21; D&C 138:1–11

Taught by Craig Conover on 2/21/05.

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