Lesson 7: Reverence

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, (2000), 48–54


The purpose of this lesson is to help us learn how to teach reverence to our family and how to improve our own reverence.

Reverence Is a Quality of the Soul

  • Display a poster of Leviticus 19:30, or refer to the scripture on the chalkboard.

Modern prophets have counseled us about reverence. President David O. McKay said, “I look upon reverence as one of the highest qualities of the soul” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1951, 179–80).

The following text was written by President Spencer W. Kimball for Church members:

“We are a richly blessed people. The Lord has given us everything: the gospel of Jesus Christ, the light, the priesthood, the power, the promises, the covenants, the temples, our families, the truth. We should be the happiest people on earth. We should also be the most reverent people, but here I think every individual and every family should take a look at themselves. Are we a reverent people? Do our actions in the home and at church show reverence for our Creator?

“Sometimes we wonder. We attend sacrament meetings and conferences where children wander unrestrained in the aisles. During the service, we notice adults talking with their neighbors, people dozing, and young people gathering in the foyers. We see families coming late and filing noisily to their seats, and groups engaged in loud conversation in the chapel after the meeting.

“Our thoughts turn to investigators, friends, and those whose testimonies are fragile and developing. Are our meetings the powerful missionary tools they can be, where the Spirit of the Lord reigns and penetrates hearts? Or to sense the Spirit must we first block out many needless distractions?

“Let us examine reverence, not only its meaning and importance in the lives of Latter-day Saints, but some possible ways we can teach reverence to our children and improve our performance.

“The Meaning and Importance of Reverence

“Reverence has been defined as a ‘feeling or attitude of deep respect, love, and awe, as for something sacred.’ To describe it as devotion to God is another way to express the meaning of reverence.

“Many of our leaders have expressed regard for reverence as one of the highest qualities of the soul, indicating it involves true faith in God and in his righteousness, high culture, and a love for the finer things in life.

“Reverence for God

“In modern revelation the Lord has helped us understand the meaning and importance of reverence.

“One such instance would seem to indicate that reverence toward the Father and the Son is an essential qualification or characteristic of those who attain the celestial kingdom. In section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants, known as ‘The Vision,’ given to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in February 1832, we find:

“‘And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;

“‘Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.

“‘They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace.

“‘And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.’ (D&C 76:92–95.)

“Reverence for the Name of Deity

“Another modern revelation directs us to hold in reverence even the very name of Deity; we are told not to profane the name of the Father, and even to avoid frequent use of it. (D&C 107:2–4.)

“Here we should remind ourselves that one of the Ten Commandments reads:

“‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.’ (Exodus 20:7.)

“It would appear that reverence for God and his name is one of the most important qualities we can develop.

“Reverence for the House of the Lord

“In yet another area of extreme importance, the Lord has directed by modern revelation that we should have proper reverence for his holy house. In the important revelation given to Joseph Smith known as the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, a directive was given that this, as with all other sacred temples erected unto the Lord, should be a place of reverence to Him. (See D&C 109:13, 16–21.)

“In a very real sense, what is said of the sacred temples of the Church is applicable to every ‘house of the Lord,’ whether it be a meetinghouse or any place where the Saints worship, or in fact, any Latter-day Saint home.

“Reverence Involves Happiness

“As with the other principles of the gospel, reverence leads to increased joy.

“We must remember that reverence is not a somber, temporary behavior that we adopt on Sunday. True reverence involves happiness, as well as love, respect, gratitude, and godly fear. It is a virtue that should be part of our way of life. In fact, Latter-day Saints should be the most reverent people in all the earth.

“Reverence and the Home

“Where, then, does reverence begin, and how can we develop it?

“The home is the key to reverence, as it is to every other godlike virtue.

“Let me emphasize the importance of teaching children to pray. It is during personal and family prayers that little ones learn to bow their heads, fold their arms, and close their eyes while our Father in heaven is being addressed. Behavior learned at home determines behavior in Church meetings. A child who has learned to pray at home soon understands that he must be quiet and still during prayers in worship services.

“Likewise, when family home evenings are part of home life, children know that there are special times, not only at church but at home, when we learn about our Heavenly Father and when everyone needs to be on his best behavior.

“Music is a special delight for children. Hymns that are frequently sung at church can become familiar in the home too. Small children especially could benefit if parents helped them learn simple hymns at home. In this way, children would eagerly anticipate singing at sacrament and other meetings.

“Reverence at Church

“Of course, parents should attend Sunday meetings with their children.

“The father and mother should work together to make sure that preparation for meetings is a pleasant family experience. The last minute rush to gather the children, dress, and hurry to meeting is destructive to reverence.

“When families fall into this pattern they are frequently late to church, there are often cross words and hurt feelings, and the children are often upset and restless during the service. How much more reverent is the family that prepares well ahead of time for meetings, that arrives at the chapel well before the meeting begins, and that sits together to listen to the prelude music and put worldly concerns out of their minds.

“Parents with small children sometimes have a difficult time helping their youngsters appreciate meetings and keeping them from creating disturbances. Perseverance, firmness, and preparation in the home are essential ingredients for success. If they are perplexed about how to handle their children at church, young parents might seek the advice of a more experienced couple in the ward.

“Often, before and after meetings, members of the Church cluster in the chapel to exchange greetings. Some seeming irreverence is due innocently to the fact that we are a friendly people and that the Sabbath is a convenient time to visit, to fellowship, and to meet new people. Parents should set an example for their families by doing their visiting in the foyers or other areas outside of the chapel before or after meetings. After a meeting, parents can help to carry the spirit of the service into the home by discussing at home a thought, a musical number, or some other positive aspect of the meeting with their children.

“An Effort to Improve Reverence

“We have discussed the importance of reverence and examined some of its meanings. We have also offered several suggestions about promoting reverence at home and at church. The real improvement in actions of the people, however, will come as local leaders and families combine their efforts to overcome their specific reverence problems. We envision an effort throughout the Church to improve reverence. …

“True reverence is a vital quality, but one that is fast disappearing in the world as the forces of evil broaden their influences. We cannot fully comprehend the power for good we can wield if the millions of members of Christ’s true church will serve as models of reverent behavior. We cannot imagine the many additional numbers of lives we could touch. Perhaps even more important, we cannot foresee the great spiritual impact on our own families if we become the reverent people we know we should be. That we might work to develop greater reverence in our lives is my prayer” (We Should Be a Reverent People [pamphlet, 1976], 1–4).

  • How can parents help their children enjoy church meetings and be more reverent? After class members have responded, have someone read the following suggestions:

“Suggestions to Parents on Teaching Reverence

“Parents can help their children enjoy church meetings by—

“1. Participating in Sunday School and sacrament meetings with their children.

“2. Making preparation for meetings pleasant and unhurried.

“3. Arriving five to ten minutes before the meeting is scheduled to begin.

“4. Sitting together as a family.

“5. Discussing a talk, message, musical number, or other aspect of the meeting afterward” (Spencer W. Kimball, We Should Be a Reverent People,  4).

  • Display visual 7-a, “We should be reverent and teach our children to be reverent in the chapel.”

  • How can we teach reverence to small children? After class members have responded, have someone read the following suggestions:

“Parents with small children should try to—

“1. Help children understand what is happening.

“Young children may be able to occupy themselves quietly with a coloring book or workbook, but it is important to help them understand as much as possible about the meeting. An occasional whispered comment to clarify ward business or the speaker’s message may help the child to relate to what is happening. For example, the father could whisper, ‘That is Gordy’s daddy speaking now. He’s talking about pioneers.’

“2. Emphasize the songs.

“Singing can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the meeting for children. Encourage a child’s interest in hymns by singing simple hymns at home and by teaching them to the child. The ward music director may be able to furnish a list of hymns to be sung in future meetings.

“3. Reinforce etiquette learned at home, in Primary, and in Sunday School.

“Help children remember to fold their arms and bow their heads during prayers and to sit quietly during the sacrament. Children should understand that it is discourteous to play in the aisles or to walk in and out of the chapel during the meeting.

“4. Set the example.

“Set a good example by showing interest in the meeting, communicating only when necessary and only in whispers, and encouraging children to do likewise.

“5. Ensure that children are ready for meetings.

“Visits to the restroom and drinking fountain should take place before the meeting begins” (Spencer W. Kimball, We Should Be a Reverent People, 4–5).

Conclusion

When we are reverent, we show our love and respect for our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. As we develop an attitude of reverence, we can experience greater joy in life and in the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Challenge

List the things you can do to become more reverent in your own life and to help others, especially your own family, become more reverent.

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

Prepare the poster suggested in the lesson or write the scripture on the chalkboard.