Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Blessings of Keeping the Sabbath

9 And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High.
11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times; (Doctrine & Covenants 59:9-11)
These verses teach us that going to the house of prayer (church) and offering up sacraments (prayers and taking the sacrament) on the Lord’s holy day (Sunday) keeps us more pure from the sins of the world than if we didn’t.

Why is this?

I suspect it is because doing these things fulfills some spiritual laws that secure us from a good many temptations that we would fall prey to if we didn’t.

Meeting together makes it possible for us to nourish each other with the word of God through talks and lessons. The Savior told Peter to “feed my sheep”, and that is done with gospel doctrine.

Offering up meaningful prayers on the Sabbath (and on other days) helps us by not only calling the blessings of heaven down on us as individuals, but helps us develop love for others when we call down blessings on those around us. Also, when a whole congregation prays silently for the same things that the vocal prayer-giver asks for, the combined faith is stronger, the blessings greater, and the Spirit is given in greater measure. This helps us keep more unspotted from the world, because it puts us further in God’s territory and more acquainted with His goodness. The better we know Him, the more we will want to be like Him. The more we want to be like Him, the more we will want to repent and the less attractive sin will seem.

Offering up our sacraments can mean that priesthood holders prepare and bless the sacrament and it can also refer to all those who take the sacrament. Taking the sacrament renews the covenant of baptism to follow Christ and keep His commandments. It is offering a renewed promise to God that we will forsake sin. This will help us keep from being spotted by the world. God’s promise to us is that we will have His Spirit to be with us always if we try to remember Him always. This is an extra aid to help us resist temptation.

I really look forward to taking the sacrament each week. I notice the effect that it has on me, and it is different from any other time that I eat a piece of bread or drink a little bit of water. It is really subtle, but over a period of years I’ve noticed how I am affected by taking the sacrament worthily. I feel like I want to be a little kinder. I’m more open and interested in listening to spiritual messages. I feel like I want to contribute in the discussions and say something edifying.

Back to the topic. How does resting from our labors on Sunday help keep us unspotted from the world? The Sabbath is a day to put aside the work of the week. We get a break. It is a lot easier to do what I have to do during the week when I am rested and relaxed. When I am tired and cranky, I have a hard time getting myself to do my homework or help other people or work on chores around the house. I just want to vegetate. I also have a hard time working up the energy to keep the commandments as fully as I know I should. When we are weak and tired, our defenses are down and Satan will try especially hard to overpower us with temptations. He may tempt with sins of commission or with sins of omission. Resting on the Sabbath from work renews our strength for the rest of the week.

However, refraining from the week’s work is not enough to constitute keeping the Sabbath. The Sabbath is also for paying our devotions to the Most High. It’s not just at church, it’s for the whole day. It’s for studying and learning about the gospel (preparing for next week’s church lessons), strengthening ties with family with good conversation, praying about things you need help with, thinking, writing in your journal, etc. It’s not about entertaining yourself, it has to be consciously or subconsciously directed to God.
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:13-14)
How does this help keep us unspotted from the world? It strengthens us in our knowledge of what is right, and strengthen our commitment to practice throughout the week what we have learned. Including our families in these efforts will unify them, which is especially needed in this age of dysfunctional families.

Some of the things I like to do on the Sabbath are the following:
Go to church
Write in my journal
Read my scriptures
Write for this blog
Talk to my husband
Call my family
Go to church choir practice
read church books
listen to hymns and uplifting classical music
go on a walk with my husband
go visiting teaching

I know that keeping the Sabbath has blessed me. I feel truly rested and rejuvenated and ready for Monday when I keep it holy.


In The Doghouse said...

Great post on the Sabbath. I do believe that on the seventh day the Lord does all the Father's work. If that is the case, than keeping the Sabbath day holy means doing the Fathers work as well. I believe that anything that brings us closer to the character of Christ is therefore acceptable Sabbath behavior.

Michaela Stephens said...

I agree with you.

What kinds of things do you consider to be the Father's work?

In The Doghouse said...

Hi Michaela,
I believe that anything that will bring you closer to the Lord, or bring others closer to the Lord is acceptable Sabbath activity. IMHO That may be different for each individual.