------ Forwarded message ------
From: Francis Harper
Francis Harper Message for 7/6/2018
We need to worship; individually and as a group. When we draw near to God in prayer he draws near to us. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8). The Father has promised that his Holy Spirit will be given to those who worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:26). We forfeit great spiritual blessings whenever we “forsake the assembling of ourselves together” with the household of faith. See Hebrews 10:25.
As I call to mind the worship experiences of my life, the ones which have blessed me most have been at the prayer meetings with the Saints. These seasons of prayer have been more edifying and life changing for me than listening to sermons and attending classes. In spite of this, the number attending the mid-week prayer services is invariably fewer than at any other service held at the church. Perhaps our prayer services should be held on Sunday mornings!
Jesus emphasized our need to worship in a closet or private place. He said: “when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:5-6).
I have been greatly blessed in meeting and praying with others. Hearing the sincere prayers and testimonies of others strengthens those who are weaker in faith. The collective prayers of those within a group will bring to mind a greater number of needs for which to pray.
How can we encourage others to worship God? We need to share with them how our lives have been blessed in worship. Invite them to join you at prayer services. A young man in our branch was baptized as a result of his attendance at the mid-week prayer services. Years later, after moving to another state, he would occasionally call on Wednesday evenings as we were gathering for prayer. He remembered the Spirit he had felt and the rich fellowship of the believers.
It is difficult to express in words the peace, love and joy experienced in worship, which will convey these feelings to those who are not acquainted with the Holy Spirit’s presence. The divine presence has been described as being akin to being in the presence of a dearly beloved friend. I love the testimony of Oliver Cowdery and the words he utilized to describe his worship experience on May 15, 1829. “The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon him in an earnest manner . . . condescended to manifest to us his will . . . what joy! What wonder! What amazement! While the world was racked and distracted – while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard. . . . his voice though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, “I am thy fellow servant” dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! ‘Twas the voice of the angel from glory – ‘Twas a message from the Most High! And as we heard we rejoiced, while his love enkindled upon our souls, and we were rapt in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? Nowhere. Uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk, no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!” (Church History, Vol 1, pp 37-39).
What an eloquent and fitting description of the appearance of John the Baptist to Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith, Jr. This never to be forgotten experience happened on the banks of the Susquehanna River in northern Pennsylvania. These young men had gone to this place to inquire of the Lord concerning baptism. John was sent to restore priesthood authority and to give them instruction on the mode of baptism. This experience is reminiscent of the angel Gabriel being sent to Daniel in response to his fasting and prayer, to give him “skill and understanding” (Daniel 9:21-22).
My Love to All,
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, see that thou do it not; I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus; worship God . . .” (Revelation 19:10). See also Revelation 22:8-9. Only the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are worthy of our worship. “And 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. For unto such hath God promised his Spirit. And they who worship him, must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:25-26 IV; 4:23-24 KJV). “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Hebrews 11:6).
We learn several things from these scriptures: 1) God invites us to come and worship him in spirit and in truth. He “seeketh such to worship him.” 2) He promises to bestow his Spirit upon those who worship him with the whole heart. 3) We must believe that he is. We must have faith, “without wavering.” 4) “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.”
What rewards can we expect when we worship God in spirit and in truth? He will bless us with the presence of his Spirit. There is no greater blessing. With the Spirit comes peace, love and joy. In the Spirit’s presence we see ourselves and our need for his forgiveness. Our hearts are broken. Then we feel his acceptance; and a glorious release. As with Enos, our “guilt is swept away and we begin to feel a desire for the welfare of our brethren: (Enos 1:5-12).
Two kinds of worship experiences are mentioned in the Scriptures; individual and corporate. Isaiah described his personal encounter with God in Isaiah 6:1-8. He describes in a very few words the essential elements of a true worship experience: 1) The recognition of our sinfulness, 2) a cleansing, 3) a commission and 4) a surrendering to do God’s will.
Examples of worship in groups are: The transfiguration in Matthew 17; Pentecost in Acts, chapters 1 and 2; and The appearance of Jesus Christ at the temple in the Land Bountiful in 3 Nephi 5.
More recently (1908) Emma Burton described a latter day Pentecost. She wrote: “I have hesitated to reproduce or reiterate this experience here, for it seemed too sacred, yet it is not more sacred than the day of Pentecost, and it will be an additional testimony to the power of God manifest through the gospel in these last days. We were in Papeete (Tahiti), at our prayer meeting. I tried to tell the natives in their language of how happy I was, and of how the love of God filled my heart . . . when unexpectedly the difficult work of mentally translating the English into Tahitian passed away. I found myself speaking in a smooth, beautiful language (of the native tongue). As the beautiful words fell from the speaker’s lips, there appeared to my view a small, soft white (glory) cloud . . . (which) gradually settled until it touched the heads of the natives, transforming them from their usual leaning posture to perfect uprightness, and filled them with the Spirit. . . . there could not be any feeling of ill will, or opposition, all were alike made partakers of the divine Spirit. As I sat down, Elder Burton arose and gave the interpretation. It was a psalm of praise to God” (Emma Burton, Beatrice Whitherspoon, pp 372-373). Worship in the presence of the Holy Spirit changes lives. Within an hour a sinner can be transformed into a saint!