What manner of worship?

Temple (2)This post originally appeared in The Deseret News on Tuesday 12 June, 2012, available at http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865557279/Reader-Voices-What-manner-of-worship.html

At the end of a long week I sat down and evaluated my worship for the week. I concluded that while being incredibly busy, my week had failed to go beyond what I considered to be the bare minimum of worship. I had attended Church on the Sunday which had included taking the sacrament, I had studied and prayed both individually, and with my family, each day, but that was it.

As I looked at the activities my wife and I had been involved with we had spent a total of 50 hours in Church related service. It was only when I looked at that figure, then my forty hour work week that I began to explore what I could have done more. I then realised that in separating my acts of worship from my acts of Church service I was missing the point.

What was the point? My Church related service activities were acts of worship within themselves. How had I missed this? Maybe a brief list of some of these activities might help the explanation: I had attended a local inter-faith meeting, my wife had attended a Presidency meeting, I had spent two hours sending out invitations to an upcoming event, I had attended the Temple with two of children (okay- that does count as worship), taught with the missionaries and so on.

Most of these events I categorized as administration or organizational, even the teaching I saw as an act of teaching rather than an act of worship. What I had failed to appreciate, is that each of these activities were designed in some way to help others draw closer to Christ, and indeed, at the same time if I did them properly they could also help me draw closer to Him. I needed to refocus my attitude so they became worship rather than activities.

As I developed this train of thought further I had the opportunity to teach an undergraduate class on Islam. I taught about the word “Islam” meaning “submission”, and that a Muslim would strive to submit to Allah in every aspect of their lives. I realised that the re-evaluation of my Church related activities as worship was only the tip of the iceberg. If I applied what I learnt from Islam, I realised that every aspect of my life: Church, work and family were actually all acts of worship that could draw me closer to the Saviour?

How does this work? As a father, the way that I treat or speak with my children can exemplify my efforts to develop Christlike characteristics, or not as the case may be. The way that I exert my efforts in the workplace can similarly exemplify my promises to ““to stand as [a witness] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that [I] may be in” (Mosiah 18: 9). I am reminded of a passage from The Shack: “It’s simple, Mack. It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. What we are doing right now− just doing this− and being open and available to others around us. My church is all about people and life is all about relationships” (Young, 2008: 178). Sharing life, and engaging in relationships wherever they are found are the acts of worship I am striving to develop.

At the moment I do not know how this newly discovered attitude to worship will work in practice. What I am sure of, is that by striving to include all of my life as an act of worship then I can hopefully draw closer to Christ, and feel less guilt about the “acts of worship” I so dearly wished to do. It does not negate my responsibility to attend Church, the Temple and to study and pray, but if I view every action- whether visiting members of the Church, teaching a University class, or spending time with my family as an opportunity to develop my relationship with the Saviour, as ai develop my relationship with others I may be on the right track.