All Things Witness

Thoughts on the mission and power of Jesus Christ

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Two Prayers

When I started this series about the LDS ordinance of the sacrament, I thought it would take me two posts to cover the sacrament prayer. As I sat down to dissect the prayers into areas I wanted to cover, however, I realised that it was going to take longer than that. So this is the first of, well, several short articles about the sacrament prayers themselves. If you want to see a list of all of the topics on the sacrament covered so far, go here.

As I’ve said before, the prayer on the sacrament must be word perfect. Any mistake must be remedied, and the Priest will repeat the prayer until every word spoken is correct. I love the symbolism of that.

Yes, we are commanded to be perfect even as the resurrected Christ, or His Father in Heaven, are perfect (3 Nephi 12:48). But we can’t actually achieve that. Not any of us. We all make mistakes and transgress the laws the Lord has given us.

But that’s okay. Because of the atonement of Christ, the emblems of which are displayed on the sacrament table, we can all partake of His grace, repent, and start again. No matter how many times we’ve failed, we can try again. Thus, even with our imperfections, we can keep this commandment by being “perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:33).

Indeed, we can only obey this commandment to be perfect through our Saviour and Redeemer, and the requirement for perfection in the prayers on the sacrament is a beautiful metaphor for that. Continue reading

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They Did Kneel Down With The Church

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This post is part of my series about the LDS ordinance of the sacrament. In my previous posts I’ve discussed the table, the cloth covering and the Priests. For those articles, as well as to see what else I’m currently expecting to write in the series, go here.

When Jesus introduced the sacrament amongst His Jerusalem apostles, Matthew tells us that He “blessed” and “gave thanks” for the bread and wine. He then offered it to His disciples. (Matthew 26:26-27) A single blessing or thanks, one for the bread and another for the wine, and then each of the men with Him partook of it.

If you stop and think about it, that’s really interesting, because it is so unusual. Most other LDS ordinances are very much one to one. Baptism: a single prayer for a single person. Confirmation: a single prayer for a single person. Priesthood ordinations: a single prayer for a single person. Etc. We have many communal worship experiences. Not so, with ordinances.*

Indeed, for the sacrament, it seems that the communal experience is an integral part of the ordinance. Moroni tells us that those ministering the Sacrament, “…did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ…” (Moroni 4:2, emphasis added. See also D&C 20:76)

The question we must ask ourselves is therefore why the communal experience is so important. Continue reading

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Yearning for Heaven

armsOver the years, I’ve learned loads of things at Church. In my adult years, though – like many life-long members of the LDS Church I’m sure – very little has come from the actual words spoken in meetings and lessons. Because those who speak to, or teach us, in Church have to cater for a wide range of gospel understanding, our lessons and sermons tend to be fairly basic in content; with lessons getting recycled every four years.

I still enjoy them, though, for a couple of reasons. First, on odd occasions I’m able to make a contribution to a topic which I hope others find helpful (certainly others make contributions which I find helpful). Second – and relevant for this post – the things I learn are most often from words that are not audible. They are from the words and feelings that come directly into my mind.

That was the case today. The sermons in our main worship meeting were on the subject of prayer and while what the speakers had to say was good, there was something else I learned on the subject; something they didn’t talk about. A phrase came directly to my mind which cause me to ponder quite deeply; to examine myself and my approach to prayer. It is something which will change the way I approach my Heavenly Father when I kneel before him in my solitude. It affects the power of my prayers. Continue reading

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On Prayer and Patience

I love the passage of scripture in the Book of Mormon where Alma and Amulek are teaching the poor amongst the Zoramites. Their teachings comprise chapters 32-34 of Alma, and begin with the famous passage comparing the word of God to a seed. This passage is worth study itself in relation to the Atonement because ultimately, Alma teaches, the seed will grow into the Tree of Life which, as Nephi teaches us earlier, is a representation of the love of God, as manifest through His Only Begotten. “To partake of the love of God is to partake of Jesus’ Atonement and the emancipation and joys which it can bring.”, said Elder Neal A Maxwell about the Tree of Life (Lessons from Laman and Lemuel, October 1999 General Conference).

As we partake of the fruit of this tree, “…behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” (Alma 32:42-43)

It is interesting that Alma here teaches that some of the blessings of the Atonement will come to us after we have exercised a degree of patience. Continue reading