The Sacrament and Spiritual Growth

By Elder Melvin J. Ballard (1873–1939)

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

From “The Sacramental Covenant,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1919, 1025–32; punctuation and capitalization standardized.

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The one thing that would make for the safety of every man and woman would be to appear at the sacrament table every Sabbath day.

woman with head bowed

Our Father in Heaven has provided that, not only once but frequently, we shall meet together to renew our pledge, our covenant, and our agreement to keep His commandments and to take upon us [the Savior’s] name again. I have always looked upon this blessed privilege as the means of spiritual growth, and there is none other quite so fruitful in the achievement of that end as the partaking, worthily, of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. We eat food to stimulate our physical bodies. Without the partaking of food, we would become weak and sickly and fail physically. It is just as necessary, for our spiritual body, that we should partake of this sacrament and by it obtain spiritual food for our souls. …

Spiritually Hungry

We must come, however, to the sacrament table hungry. If we should repair to a banquet where the finest of earth’s providing may be had, without hunger, without appetite, the food would not be tempting, nor do us any good. If we repair to the sacrament table, we must come hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for spiritual growth.

How can we have spiritual hunger? Who is there among us that does not wound his spirit by word, thought, or deed from Sabbath to Sabbath? We do things for which we are sorry and desire to be forgiven, or we have erred against someone and given injury. If there is a feeling in our hearts that we are sorry for what we have done, if there is a feeling in our souls that we would like to be forgiven, then the method to obtain forgiveness is not through rebaptism; it is not to make confession to man, but it is to repent of our sins, to go to those against whom we have sinned or transgressed and obtain their forgiveness and then repair to the sacrament table where, if we have sincerely repented and put ourselves in proper condition, we shall be forgiven, and spiritual healing will come to our souls. It will really enter into our being. You have felt it. I am a witness that there is a spirit attending the administration of the sacrament that warms the soul from head to foot; you feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load is lifted. Comfort and happiness come to the soul that is worthy and truly desirous of partaking of this spiritual food. …

Self-Reflection and Safety

We want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing them into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters. It is the place where we become our own judges.

… No man goes away from this Church and becomes an apostate in a week, nor in a month. It is a slow process. The one thing that would make for the safety of every man and woman would be to appear at the sacrament table every Sabbath day. We would not get very far away in one week—not so far away that, by the process of self-investigation, we could not rectify the wrongs we may have done. … The road to the sacrament table is the path of safety for Latter-day Saints. …

Preparing to Enter the Divine Presence

I know, my brethren and sisters, that no man or woman shall ever come to stand in the presence of our Father in Heaven, nor be associated with the Lord Jesus Christ, who does not spiritually grow. Without spiritual growth we shall not be prepared to enter into the divine presence. I need the sacrament. I need to renew my covenant every week. I need the blessing that comes with and through it. …

Go to the sacrament table. Ah, that is a blessed privilege that I now rejoice in, and I would be ashamed, I know, … to stand in [the Savior’s] presence and try to offer any apology or any excuse for not having kept His commandments and honored Him by bearing witness, before the Father and before men, that I believe in Him, and that I take upon me His blessed name, and that I live by and through Him spiritually. …

Brethren and sisters, let us go unto Him in His appointed hour. Let us take our children with us and through our faithfulness find all the blessings attendant upon this sacred observance of this holy ordinance—ours in time and in eternity.