A Song and Three Videos

I heard this contemporary cover of “Nearer My God To Thee” on Mormon Channel radio last week and loved it.

Also, I found these three videos to be very helpful in picturing the detailed directions for making the tabernacle, priestly clothing, etc. in Exodus 25-30. The narration isn’t from the King James Version, but it’s easy to tell what’s what. In fact, the updated terminology also helps clarify the KJV text.

The first video covers Exodus 25 (0:00-5:27), Exodus 26:15-30 (5:27-7:07), and Exodus 27:1-8 (7:07-8:09)

The second video covers Exodus 27:9-21 (0:00-2:30), and Exodus 28:1-43 (2:30-9:08)

The third video covers Exodus 30:1-10 (0:00-1:56), and 30:17-33 (1:57-4:30)

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Live and Die To Make Men Free

There are multiple versions of the Civil War marching song, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  The original words to the song include this line:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free. 

It’s easy to see why this would be inspiring to the Union soldiers singing it to build morale.  They were imitating the example of their Lord, who gave His life to free humanity from the bonds of sin and death.  This same Lord said, memorably, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).  The North must have been encouraged by seeing themselves in the role of temporal saviors, risking and often giving their lives to free black Southerners from the bonds of slavery.  (The famous “grapes of wrath” from the first verse refers to God’s righteous indignation at the evil of the slaveholders, which was in immediate need of retribution, through the instrument of the Northern army.) 

Such an analogy was uplifting and appropriate for the soldiers of the time (and, indeed, for soldiers of any time).  However, as much as I like the injunction in the hymn to “die to make men free,” I also like the way those words are modified in the hymn book of my church, the LDS Church.  In our hymnal, that line reads:

As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.

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A Passion For Prayer

I was assigned to speak to another ward today on behalf of our stake Sunday School presidency.  The topic was “the power of prayer.”  I think it went well, but this was actually the first time I’ve addressed another ward’s sacrament meeting, and I think I may have gone a little too quickly–my talk only took ten minutes.  Still, I’m pleased with it.

*****

In salesmanship, there’s a classic example of how to show people how amazing something very simple is.  You advertise to someone that you’re selling a product that can perfectly record every event in life and thought they ever have; it’ll also keep track of every single piece of information you ever need to remember.  It’s extremely low maintenance, and even has a built-in correction accessory, in case you use it wrong.  It’s lightweight, portable, durable, lasts for years, uses no electricity or fuel, and on top of all that, costs less than a dollar.  What could this incredible new invention be?  It’s a pencil.  Keep that in mind for now. 

My subject today is prayer, specifically the power of prayer.  Now, I’m sure I don’t need to sell anyone here on the importance of prayer, but even though we all believe in prayer, and try to pray often, I know that sometimes we find that we don’t always love it, sometimes we don’t look forward to it, sometimes we don’t make it a priority or even find joy in it.  So, I’d like to take a few minutes and share with you what I found as I sought, in preparation for this talk, how we can develop a greater passion for prayer. 

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Worshipping Through Prayer, Singing, and Fasting

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

1 Nephi 18:16: Prolonged praise and suppression of desire to murmur (see also Ether 6:9)

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

3 Nephi 4:31: Again, singing laudatory praises of gratitude (see also Mormon 7:7)

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:

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