Elements of Worship (David O. McKay Lesson 4)

On Worship

Why should men exercise faith? Why engage in Divine worship? In this age of education and philosophy, with a learned skepticism or "higher criticism" seeking to cast a doubt on the truth of the scriptures, it may be well to consider what intelligent reason underlies these principles.

If asked why we ride on the railroad cars, we might answer, because that is the easiest and quickest way to travel; if, why we build a bridge across the river, we would say, because the safest way to cross is over a bridge. For many other things we do, we might give a good reason.

But if asked why we build a chapel, and meet to sing and pray, and worship an object above, whom we neither see, hear nor feel with our material senses, many a good Christian might hesitate before giving an intelligent answer. Not that no good reason may be given, but because many of us worship all our lives intuitively, or, as a matter of tradition, without thinking of the reason why.

In regard to worship, we know that all races of men worship in some form. Veneration seems to be inherent in man; he is impelled by nature to worship some object that he conceives to be superior to himself. This is a divine attribute, and when exercised intelligently in the worship of God is an effectual means of spiritual growth.

One very important mark of distinction between those who worship God "in spirit and in truth," and those who worship idols, is the difference in their attitude towards those who do not worship as they do. It is the will of God that all men be free to use their agency without constraint; and those who worship him, however careful they are to guard their own freedom, are just as careful of the rights of those who do not worship as they do. And no true disciple of Christ will use any power but persuasion and kindness, to induce others to worship as he does; while those who worship false gods, when persuasion fails, will use force to compel others to do as they do.

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." (Eleventh Article of Faith) The gospel is a "perfect law of liberty;" it is a fundamental principle in God's government, and any departure from it would destroy the Church.

Satan, knowing the power of this principle, has invented a thousand devices as objects of worship to lead men away from God, insomuch that for many generations the whole world wandered after the beast, and worshiped his image. The first of the ten commandments given to Israel through Moses was to call them from their idols to the worship of the true God. One object of the gospel, as restored by an angel from heaven in the last days, as recorded in the 14th chapter of Revelation, is to call all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, to "Fear God and worship him who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water." In this principle, Jesus set all men an example.

There are many examples in the scriptures of blessings received through prayer; and in this dispensation, the blessings that came to Joseph Smith, and through him to the Church, have come in answer to prayer. The saints in this day are required to call their families together morning and evening, to bow in prayer and praise to God; and also to meet on the Sabbath, to worship God in songs of praise and prayer, to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of the atonement of Christ, and to receive instructions in doctrine, in theory, and in their duty to God and each other, from the elders, as they are inspired by the Holy Spirit. By withdrawing themselves from the cares of the world, and humbling themselves before God, their souls are brought into harmony with the divine Spirit; they are impressed with greater love to God, and charity for each other. The Spirit of God is poured down upon them; their testimonies strengthened, their faith increased; the sick are healed, the spiritual gifts of the gospel enjoyed. They separate with renewed determination to keep themselves unspotted from the sins of the world. The results are love, union, peace and prosperity, in their homes and communities.

On Reverance

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