One topic to which my eye was drawn during a study of the Book of Mormon was how exactly God wants to be worshipped. As Latter-day Saints, we often say that lives of steady, regular devotion to righteousness and service constitute the ultimate worship, which is all fine and good–no problem there–but in light of the examples set by prophets in the scriptures, it seems incomplete. Consider:
1 Nephi 1:14-15: Lehi exclaims to God how great God’s power and plan are
2 Nephi 4:30-35: Proclaim trust in God while pleading (with firm faith) for help
2 Nephi 9: 8,9,13,17,19,20: Extol the virtues of God
Mosiah 2:3-4: Mosaic sacrifices and offerings explicitly linked with showing gratitude (see also verse 20)
Mosiah 18:30: Praises to be sung to God
Alma 26:8: Again, singing laudatory praises of gratitude
Alma 45:1: Fasting and prayer mentioned in conjunction with grateful worship
And those eleven citations are just a sampling of what the Book of Mormon shows in its narrative about the nature of worship. This may be something that we could benefit to learn from our Evangelical friends: while the kind of demonstrative emotion shown in much of their public worship might strike us as overly ecstatic to the point of being irreverent, our own scriptures surely show that it does have a proper place. I offer three suggestions–which I’ve practiced myself–to try integrating into our own worhsip, and see if they don’t invite the Spirit:
- In prayer, list the glorious qualities of Heavenly Father’s excellence which fill you with love, awe, and gratitude. In addition, bear your testimony in private prayer. Declare your trust in God.
- In song, picture yourself singing for a divine audience, as you do when you pray. This is most easily developed by concentrating on the words of songs like “How Great Thou Art” and other songs where the lyrics are addressed directly to God.
- Rather than using it to ask for further blessings or even to express gratitude for those previously given, dedicate a fast to praising and worshipping Heavenly Father. During the course of the day, practice the other two ideas listed above.
I’d be happy to hear further ideas about such worship and your experiences with them.