We learn in Moses 5:5 that one of the first commandments that Adam and Eve were given after they left the Garden was “that they should worship the Lord their God”. The commandment to worship our Lord remains in effect today, although the means of worship no longer involves the sacrifice of our flocks, but the sacrifice of our hearts and minds. This can sometimes feel like an impossible sacrifice to make in the day to day grind of things, but President Hinckley taught “It is not so much the major events as the small day to day decisions that map the course of our living … Our lives are, in reality, the sum total of our seemingly unimportant decisions and of our capacity to live by those decisions.” (BYU, 26 Oct 1965). In the Doctrine and Convenants the Lord said, “You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.” D&C123:16 Like the ship being directed by the small helm, I have found that by deciding to worship the Lord on a day to day basis that when the Lord asks me to sacrifice my heart and mind in a new level of worship that it is actually possible because I already have a habit of worship and sacrifice. I have broken up my personal worship into four areas:
1. Worship through daily scripture study.
2. Worship through daily prayer.
3. Worship through regular temple attendance.
4. Worship through service.
1. WORSHIP THROUGH DAILY SCRIPTURE STUDY.
As stated in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, it is the keystone of our religion and it needs to be the keystone of our lives. I have always loved the Book of Mormon, but early morning seminary opened my eyes to the potential impact that a serious study of it would have on my life. President Benson promised in October 1986 General Conference that “There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path.” I will admit that the words serious study can sometimes be a real challenge, but I also know from personal experience that serious study will only happen if you are opening and at least reading everyday from the Book of Mormon. It was many years of just reading a chapter here and verse here every night before I had a real awakening to the power that the Book of Mormon in my life. And while I would like to say that one verse nights and weeks without a spiritual experience with the scriptures don’t happen anymore, they happen more often than I care to admit. But I also know that despite the one verse nights, I have been protected in more ways than I will probably ever realized in this life and this knowledge helps me to want to increase my daily scripture feast.
Specifically on my mission I developed a better understanding of who Jesus Christ is through the Book of Mormon and I have tried to continue that relationship. President Benson spoke of this in the October 1987 General Conference “We have an increasing number who have been convinced, through the Book of Mormon, that Jesus is the Christ. Now we need an increasing number who will use the Book of Mormon to become committed to Christ. We need to be convinced and committed.” For the most part I believe that we all have been convinced, but now is the time for us to become committed. The development of our commitment to Christ and His Gospel is what shapes lives. We need to be better in how we use the Book of Mormon to reaffirm that dedication to the Gospel.
In the words of the apostle Paul we find the same message, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. I frequently receive my reproof and corrections from the Lord through the scriptures and for me it is always easier to take because I know that it is truly from the Lord, Himself.
2. WORSHIP THROUGH DAILY PRAYER.
Interestingly enough, our worship through daily scripture study is in separately linked to our worship through prayer. Elder Eyring, then a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles said in the October 2001 General Conference: “We can and must go often and carefully to the word of God. If we become casual in our study of the scriptures, we will become casual in our prayers. We may not cease to pray, but our prayers will become more repetitive, more mechanical, lacking real intent. Our hearts cannot be drawn out to a God we do not know, and the scriptures and the words of living prophets help us know Him. As we know Him better, we love Him more.” I know this to be true from my own life. As I immerse myself in the scriptures, I become acquainted with the language of God and am able to communicate with Him on a much more intimate level.
I came across a beautiful Psalm:”The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” Psalms 9:9-10. How can we expect to know the name of the Lord in times of need if we have never sincerely called on him in times of joy?
In the Doctrine and Convenants we are told that if we,"Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” D&C 10:5. It is humbling to think that by such a small thing we can have power over the adversary. The prayer that is necessary to tap this power from heaven is not just hours of time on your knees, but as Alma taught “Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.” Alma 34:27. May our hearts be always filled with prayer.
3. WORSHIP THROUGH REGULAR TEMPLE ATTENDANCE.
Temple worship begins long before you enter the temple, it begins with living your life worthy of a temple recommend. I love the feeling of rummaging for a card in my wallet and seeing my temple recommend and knowing that I’m worthy of it. And that feeling is available to all members regardless of whether or not they have been endowed or they have a limited use recommend. The next part of temple worship involves actually going. The Lord has blessed us with a temple in our mist, let us wear it out, let us force the temple open more hours because of our diligence, let us prompt another temple to be built in Alberta. The Lord will provide way, so that you may attend to the needs of your family beyond the grave. And as we do so, the Lord will assist us with the work that needs to be done in our families that are here. For me this has meant having my heart soften to forgive those in my family that have hurt me.
Now the downside to having miracles happen in your life as a result of your temple worship is that with it comes many trials. The early saints were particularly sensitive to this phenomenon and were very reluctant to start building a temple in the Salt Lake Valley. President Young told them, “Some say, ‘I do not like to do it for we never begin to build a temple without the bells of hell beginning to ring.’ I want to hear them ring again.” I testify that they will ring as you worship in the temple, but that you will receive a power far greater than anything that comes from yourself to face your trials and you will overcome them is ways beyond your ability to understand.
4. WORSHIP THROUGH SERVICE.
One of the ways we worship through service is by sustaining our leaders and one another in our callings. Elder George Albert Smith, a former member of the quorum of the twelve apostles taught what it means to raise your arm to sustain the prophet. “The obligation that we make when we raise our hands under such circumstances is a most scared one. It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct this work, but it means -- if I understand the obligation I assumed when I raised my hand – that we will stand behind him; we will pray for him; we will defend his good name, and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct him to offer them to us while he remains in that position.“ I suggest that this applies not just to the prophet, but to every position in the Church. Are we carrying out the instructions of our bishop or relief society president; are we making sure that our children bring their scriptures to primary and Sunday school? I lived in a ward once that was exceptional in accepting and fulfilling assignments and callings. In fact so exceptional that for eight consecutive months we had 100% home and visiting teaching. Some may say that numbers don’t mean anything, but in this case they do. Let me share what our Bishop told us at the end of the school year. He had been a Bishop of singles wards over the years for a total seven years. This was the first time that he had not had one single case of immorality. As a result of individual members decisions to sustain our church leaders and one another in our individual assignments, we as a ward brought about a miracle.
One of the greatest services we can give is kindness to one another. When we have an attitude of worship, we focus on people’s hearts and desires. Criticism disappears, and we are filled with patience and understanding. It’s the difference between being irritated by the bratty kids behind you in Church and thinking “my children never behaved like that!” Or seeing a family who are struggling to teach their children about reverence.
In closing I’d like to return to the analogy of the ship with the small helm. The storms of life will come and we will never be able to think of every possible scenario where the Lord is going to ask us to sacrifice our hearts and minds, but with the helm of personal worship grasp firmly in hand, we will have the power to steer our lives in the way the Lord would have us go.
”Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. “ D&C 64:33.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.