Gratitude is of the very essence of Worship by Gordon B. Hinckley
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Many different cultures around the world observe similar religious practices albeit in varying manners. The word “worship” can basically be defined as “reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.” Therefore, when a person “worships,” he is showing reverence and adoration for a deity, or depending on his culture and religious belief system, he may be participating in religious rites which honor a sacred personage, or in some instances, veneration for an object that is regarded as sacred.

The Mode and Method of Worship

In Christendom, worshipping God is considered a reverent act and experience substantiated by faith and humility. In the Holy Bible, in the New Testament book of James, the Apostle exhorts:

 

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:6-10).

Therefore, the believers’ purpose in worship is to glorify, honor, praise, and exalt God. Furthermore, those who worship God, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Said the Master,

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).

Wherefore, true worship must show adoration to God for His amazing grace proffered to all mankind through the vicarious atonement of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, which provides a way to escape the wages of sin and allows the blessed opportunity of receiving the gift of salvation which He wants all of His children to have. Scriptures teach us:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23).

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Romans 5:6-10).

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (Romans 3:22-26).

The Incomparable Power of Fervent Prayer and Fasting

Another important component of worship is fervent prayer. Dictionary.com defines prayer as, “a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.” The Savior taught, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (see Luke 18:1). In 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 we are commanded to “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (a governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church by the media and others), in his address titled Pray Always given during the 178th Semiannual General Conference, stated,

Petitioning Heavenly Father for the blessings we desire in our personal lives is good and proper. However, praying earnestly for others, both those whom we love and those who despitefully use us, is also an important element of meaningful prayer. Just as expressing gratitude more often in our prayers enlarges the conduit for revelation, so praying for others with all of the energy of our souls increases our capacity to hear and to heed the voice of the Lord.

We learn a vital lesson from the example of Lehi in the Book of Mormon. Lehi responded in faith to prophetic instruction and warnings concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. He then prayed unto the Lord “with all his heart, in behalf of his people” (1 Nephi 1:5; emphasis added). In answer to this fervent prayer, Lehi was blessed with a glorious vision of God and His Son and of the impending destruction of Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 1:6–9, 13, and 18). Consequently, Lehi rejoiced, and his whole heart was filled because of the things which the Lord had shown him (see 1 Nephi 1:15). Please note that the vision came in response to a prayer for others and not as a result of a request for personal edification or guidance.

Fervent prayer is often accompanied by unabashed fasting. Fasting may be defined as “an act of willing abstention from all food, drink, or both, for a period of time, especially as a religious observance.” In teaching the proper posture for fasting, our Great Exemplar taught,

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:16-18).

In a video clip of a 2010 interview with Elder David A. Bednar in which he talked about his ministry as a modern day Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, he recounted the following story concerning what fasting is and what fasting is not:

A sister in Africa who had only been a member of the church for eight months…she was teaching a class about fasting.  Now, at the time I was fifty-four years old, member of the church since I was eight and an apostle for two years.  Now remember, she’s been a member of the church for eight months.

This is in a place in Africa where they’re not starving but they’re hungry most of the time.  And they would probably have one meal a day as we understand it.  This woman was teaching the sisters in Relief Society and she said, “Sisters, there are many days when we do not have food and we do not eat.  That is not fasting.  It’s only fasting on a day when we have food and we can choose not to eat it.”

I had been a member of the church all my life and I had to go to Africa to learn from a woman who joined the church just eight months earlier what it really meant to fast.

Although there may be some, even good-hearted Christians, who may feel that the principles of fervent prayer and fasting are not relevant for our day and time, the truth is that both prayer and fasting are perhaps needed more today than at any other time. In an article titled The Power of Prayer and Fasting, Marilyn Hickey, an American Christian minister and Christian television televangelist and personality who teaches Bible studies both nationally and internationally, commented:

The combination of fasting and praying is not a fad or a novelty approach to spiritual discipline. Fasting and praying are not part of a human-engineered method or plan. They are not the means to manipulate a situation or to create a circumstance. Fasting and praying are Bible-based disciplines that are appropriate for all believers of all ages throughout all centuries in all parts of the world.

Those who fast often experience greater discernment of good and evil. In fact, it seems to be a major by-product of fasting. God seems to give us an opportunity as we fast to take a look again at our lives and the world around us and to discern what is good and what is evil. [3] 

Mormons fast on a regular basis, the first Sunday of each month, for 24 hours, or two meals.  They give the money they would have spent on food in order to succor the poor and needy.  Mormons also fast on any occasion during which they desire to give their prayers a stronger focus.  Mormon families, and extended families often fast and pray together when a family member is sick or otherwise afflicted.

The Muslim Faith and Ramadan

The heretofore discussed principles of worship, prayer, and fasting are practiced in somewhat similar manner by those of the Muslim faith in their observance of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset. It is of noteworthy interest that in the Muslim calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day. Therefore, although the observance of Ramadan officially began on Tuesday, 9 July 2013, Muslims began the celebration at sunset on Monday, 8 July 2013. The celebration will continue for a period of 30 days, until Wednesday, 7 August 2013.

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in hadiths. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is fardh (obligatory) for adult Muslims, except those who are ill, travelling, pregnant, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.

While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations; in some interpretations they also refrain from swearing. Food and drink is served daily, before sunrise and after sunset. According to Islam, the thawab (rewards) of fasting are many, but in this month they are believed to be multiplied. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of salat (prayers) and recitation of the Quran. [4] 

In the Quran, chapter 2, Revelation 185 states:

The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful. (Quran 2:185).

Thus, according to the Quran, Muhammad first received revelations in the lunar month of Ramadan. Therefore, the month of Ramadan is considered to be the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar. And so, to reiterate the opening statement of this treatise, many different cultures around the world observe similar religious practices albeit in varying manners. Whether reference is made to Christendom or to members of other faiths such as Islam, the principles and practices of humble worship, fervent prayer, and unabashed fasting are of equal importance and significance to all concerned.

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