"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."

Purpose of the Sabbath

by Ezra Taft Benson

The purpose of the Sabbath is for spiritual uplift, for a renewal of our covenants, for worship, for rest, for prayer. It is for the purpose of feeding the spirit, that we may keep ourselves unspotted from the world by obeying God's command. (D&C 59:9.) (God, Family, Country, pp. 103-4.)

Few, if any, subjects in the great, eternal gospel plan of the Lord have been spoken of more frequently than that of the Sabbath. Ancient prophets of God have proclaimed it, Presidents of the Church and other General Authorities have repeatedly emphasized it, lay Christians and men of goodwill throughout Christendom have spoken approvingly of its place and value in the lives of men, women, and children of all races and climes. (God, Family, Country, p. 97.)


Many—too many—have almost ceased to observe the Sabbath. Not only is it a workday now, but it is supremely a day of amusement and recreation: golf, skiing, skating, hunting, fishing, picnicking, racing, movies, theaters, ball playing, dancing, and other forms of fun-making—all are coming largely to be the rule among too many so-called Christians. Some churches are said to encourage all these, if properly conducted. But God's law says keep the Sabbath day holy. "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work" (Exodus 20:9). (This Nation Shall Endure, p. 51.)

What fits the purpose of the Sabbath? Here are a few suggestions: Activities that contribute to greater spirituality; essential Church meetings in the house of prayer; acquisition of spiritual knowledge—reading the scriptures, Church history and biographies, and the inspired words of the Brethren; resting physically, getting acquainted with the family, relating scriptural stories to children, bearing testimonies, building family unity; visiting the sick and aged shut-ins; singing the songs of Zion and listening to inspired music; paying devotions to the Most High—personal and family prayer; fasting, administrations, father's blessings; preparing food with singleness of heart—simple meals prepared largely on Saturday. (God, Family, Country, p. 104.)

I don't believe that it is possible to keep our spirituality on a high plane by spending our Sabbaths on the beach, on the golf course, in the mountains, or in our own homes reading newspapers and looking at television. When the Lord said, "And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer" (D&C 59:9), that is exactly what He meant. We must have spiritual food.

Of course you can live a pretty good life out on the golf course on Sunday. But you don't build your spirituality. Probably you could worship the Lord out there, but the fact is you don't do it as you don't worship Him down on the beach. But if you go to the house of the Lord you will worship Him. If you attend to your prayers in your home with your family you will worship Him. And your spirituality will be raised. The spiritual food which your body requires will be provided and you are much more apt to have this joy. ("The Home and Family," BYU Religious Life Series, Provo, Utah, September 1960.)

Men from time immemorial have recognized the need for blessed rest—time for physical and spiritual refreshment. The human body and the spirit of man require it for happy, purposeful living. (God, Family, Country, p. 98.)

Yes, Sunday is wonderful, but how much more wonderful it might be if honored as a sacred Sabbath. Man has tried on several occasions to change God's law of the Sabbath. Each attempt has resulted in failure. (God, Family, Country, p. 99.)

The new consolidated meeting schedule is a marvelous step toward achieving our expectations. Think on this! Every Latter-day Saint father gathering his family together on the Sabbath and instructing them in gospel principles, gospel responsibilities, missionary service, and genealogy work. Will this not cause every man, woman, and child to move toward the ideal to speak in the name of the Lord? Will not faith increase in the hearts of many? Will there not be more covenants made with sincerity, and more covenants kept? And will there not come from these faithful homes those who can proclaim the gospel message to others? As the families of the Church follow the counsel of their leaders and instruct their families in the gospel principles and obligations, we will see results far beyond that which we initially contemplated. (Salt Lake City, Utah, 6 June 1980.)

We have requested priesthood leaders to minimize administrative meetings on the Sabbath so that families may engage in worship and family time. Our hope is that you will use this time to attend your meetings, render Christian service, visit family members, hold family home evenings, and study the scriptures. (CR April 1984, Ensign 14 [May 1984]: 7.)

Remember, Sunday is the Lord's day—a day to do His work. (God, Family, Country, p. 104.)

I believe in honoring the Sabbath day. I love a sacred Sabbath. I am grateful that as a boy I had a constant example and sound parental counsel as to the importance of keeping the Sabbath day a holy day. My memories of the Sabbath from infancy have been joyful, uplifting, and spiritually profitable, for which I am deeply grateful. (God, Family, Country, p. 9.)

I am grateful for the Sabbath day. I sometimes wonder what I would do without it. I mean that literally. A day of rest, but more than a day of rest—a day of prayer, a day of worship, a day of devotion, a day to be spiritually fed, a day to reflect on the purpose of life and the privileges, opportunities, and obligations which are ours as members of the Church.

The Lord has said that we should come to the house of prayer upon His holy day. He has made it very clear that if we would keep ourselves unspotted from the world we shall go to the house of prayer and offer up our sacraments upon His holy day. For verily this is a day appointed unto us to rest from our labours and to pay our devotion to the Most High. (See D&C 59:9-10.) So we come to the house of the Lord, if we would keep the Sabbath day holy. It is not possible to keep the Sabbath day holy just by resting from our labors. I am happy for the Sabbath day and all that it brings to us. ("Free Agency," Washington D.C. Stake Conference, 22 May 1960.)

A recommendation for perfecting the Saints is to see that the gospel of Jesus Christ is being taught in the various meetings of the Church. Sacrament meetings should be occasions where the gospel is taught by testimony. This is not now occurring on a regular, consistent basis. Within our ward meetings, members should be edified—built up in their faith and, to use Peter's phrase, given "a reason [for] the hope that is in [them]" (1 Peter 3:15). (Salt Lake City, Utah, 3 April 1981.)

Attend all of your Church meetings. Faithful attendance at Church meetings brings blessings you can receive in no other way. Attend your Young Women meetings every Sunday and your weekly activities. Learn well your responsibilities in the gospel and then perform them with diligence. ("To the Young Women of the Church," Ensign 16 [November 1986]: 82.)

Attend your Sunday School classes every Sunday. Listen carefully to the lesson and participate in class discussions. Gospel scholarship and an increase in testimony will result. Attend your priesthood quorum meetings every Sunday and your quorum activities held on weeknights. Learn well your priesthood responsibilities and then perform them with diligence and reverence. (CR April 1986, Ensign 16 [May 1986]: 44.)

You should participate in the programs and activities of the Church—keep the Sabbath as a holy day; attend your meetings; accept callings extended to you, and magnify those callings. Give service willingly and I promise you will have great joy. (Geneva Switzerland Stake Creation, 20 June 1982.)

I feel confident in my own heart that one of the reasons—probably the principal reason—why the Lord has provided such a full program with meetings, priesthood quorums, group meetings, sacrament meetings, stake conferences, general conferences, and all the rest is to help us as His children, whom He loves and wants to save and exalt, to endure to the end. (Fresno California Priesthood Leadership Meeting, 13 September 1952.)

The gospel of Jesus Christ is to be taught, particularly during our sacrament services. The purpose of that meeting is twofold: first, it is to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants; and second, it is to teach the gospel and testify of Jesus Christ.

I recall as a young boy hearing the gospel from the older members who had been through "the fire." I can still see their fervent faces and hear their inspired testimonies. We need to get back to that. ("Our Duty as Latter-day Saints," Springfield-Burke Virginia Chapel Dedication, 15 October 1982.)

We go to our chapels each week to worship the Lord and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. We thereby promise to take His name upon us, to always remember Him, and keep all His commandments. Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God. Only as we do this may we deserve His blessings and merit His mercy. (Come unto Christ, p. 36.)

Attend your sacrament meeting every Sunday. Listen carefully to the messages. Pray for the spirit of understanding and testimony. Be worthy to prepare and bless and pass the sacrament. Come to the sacrament table with clean hands and a pure heart (2 Nephi 25:16). (CR April 1986, Ensign 16 [May 1986]: 44.)

Whenever you are called on to speak at a sacrament meeting, would you teach the gospel! Teach from the scriptures. Bear your testimony. ("Our Duty as Latter-day Saints," Springfield-Burke Virginia Chapel Dedication, 15 October 1982.)

The sacrament will bless the souls of all those who worthily partake of it, and as such it should be taken often, even by the bedfast (see D&C 20:77, 79). (CR October 1974, Ensign 4 [November 1974]: 66.)


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The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 438-442
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