We worship God as the supreme act of faith in Jesus Christ. The commandment to do so, I believe, is equal to the first principle of the gospel: faith in Jesus Christ; the Giver of all commandments. To worship God is to have faith in His Plan made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ; acknowledging our complete dependence and gratitude for both in order to overcome the world and receive the crowning blessing of Exaltation.
It is only by the grace of God, made possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that we are able to repent of sin, overcome personal weakness and eventually become perfected. Grace is a power beyond that of the natural man. Grace enables us to accomplish that which we, left to ourselves, could never do.
Without grace, there would be no hope.
With this understanding then, how important is our faith in relation to obtaining grace? I believe it’s everything; it is the foundation upon which we are enabled to act according to God’s laws of progression.
As I contemplate the doctrine of faith, I am humbled to find that God’s perfect plan provides “the Way” for us to navigate every obstacle known to mankind and overcome this mortal experience. As we worship Him, we enable this power in our lives.
The Church is currently emphasizing the importance of Sabbath Day observance. We worship God on Sunday by first keeping the commandment to attend church and receive the ordinance of the Sacrament; to renew our covenants and retain a remission of sins.
In the Book of Mormon, we read the account of the Zoramites (apostates) and how they also gathered to worship God one day a week. The content of their service was reciting prepared prayers, stating their unified beliefs and doing so atop a tower called the Rameumptom. The Zoramites were filled with pride and denied the poor to worship in their midst. When Alma discovered this, he was heartbroken that these former members, whom he loved, had drifted so far from Christ – even denying Him. Sadly, these members had succumbed to the influences of the anti-christ, Korihor, whose doctrine was, to say the least, smooth to the ear. Daily, personal worship of God (prayer) had completely gone by the wayside.
“Daily fervent prayers seeking forgiveness and special help and direction are essential to our lives and the nourishment of our testimonies. When we become hurried, repetitive, casual, or forgetful in our prayers, we tend to lose the closeness of the Spirit, which is so essential in the continual direction we need to successfully manage the challenges of our everyday lives.” —Elder Donald L. Staheli (in Conference Report, Oct. 2004, 40; or Ensign, Nov. 2004, 39).
Alma, witnessing this evil, determined to try and reclaim this group by bearing down in pure doctrine. The scriptures record: “And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” (Alma 31:5)
Boyd K. Packer taught, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.
“The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior. … That is why we stress so forcefully the study of the doctrines of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 20; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).
Fortunately, Alma did have some success in reclaiming many of those whom the prideful Zoramites had cast out and in a state of deep humility they were prepared to be taught “true doctrine” – the doctrine of faith! (see Alma 32)
Faith is a gift of the Spirit; apparently there are two levels (or types) of faith. Boyd K. Packer explained: “There are two kinds of faith. One of them functions ordinarily in the life of every soul. It is the kind of faith born by experience; it gives us certainty that a new day will dawn, that spring will come, that growth will take place. It is the kind of faith that relates us with confidence to that which is scheduled to happen. …
“There is another kind of faith, rare indeed. This is the kind of faith that causes things to happen. It is the kind of faith that is worthy and prepared and unyielding, and it calls forth things that otherwise would not be. It is the kind of faith that moves people. It is the kind of faith that sometimes moves things. … It comes by gradual growth. It is a marvelous, even a transcendent, power, a power as real and as invisible as electricity. Directed and channeled, it has great effect. …” (“What Is Faith?” Deseret Book, 1983, emphasis added.)
I believe that this “rare” faith is the natural byproduct of true worship. To truly worship God (not only on the Sabbath Day) means having faith in the literal power of the Atonement, over all other powers (ways), in order to overcome the natural man and becometh a saint. This is a daily process and evidence of an individual’s humility before God; thus our need for constant, personal prayer as an important aspect of true worship.
Through prayer, we acknowledge God’s power and our need for that power (Atonement) in our lives, daily. To confine our worship to one day of the week then is to misunderstand the principle of having faith in Jesus Christ; which faith is intended to “cause things to happen” that otherwise could not, or will not if we choose to remain ignorant to this power (grace).
As I look forward to the months and years ahead, to those things that I personally desire to improve about myself, I feel an increased commitment to keep the first and greatest commandment: to love (worship) God, daily, above all. How can I not, as I better understand His reasons for insisting that I do? As with all of His commandments, they are intended to bless us beyond our temporal understandings if we will but have faith and trust in Him completely.
“And now, my beloved brethren (Kathryn), I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation (overcome personal weakness – repent) with fear (reverence) before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ (have faith);
That ye (Kathryn) contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God (pray), in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies (grace) and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.” (Alma 34:37-38)
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