Lesson 4: The Sabbath Day

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part B, (2000), 25–33


The purpose of this lesson is to help us keep the Sabbath day holy.

Why Should We Keep the Sabbath Day Holy?

It Is a Commandment

When the Lord gave us the fourth commandment, He said, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

  • What is meant by holy?

In commanding us to keep the Sabbath day holy, the Lord explained, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Exodus 20:9–10).

It Is a Blessing

In giving us the Sabbath as His day, the Lord has actually given us a gift of time. The Lord knows we need a day of rest. Regardless of the type of work we do, we need to renew our bodies by resting from physical labor. We need to refresh our minds by using them in a different way. We need to feed our spirits by worshiping the Lord. The Sabbath is our opportunity to take care of these needs, develop spiritually, and find joy and peace. The Sabbath should be the best day of the week.

Orthodox Jews call the Sabbath day “Shabbot Hamalkah, Sabbath Queen.” They feel that the Sabbath is the crowning day of the week. It is to be regarded as noble, majestic, and beautiful. As a queen, the Sabbath is to be full of grace.

  • What would life be like without the Sabbath?

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said:

“If thou turn away … from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

“Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; … for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13–14).

The Lord has promised blessings to those who keep the Sabbath day holy.

How Can We Keep the Sabbath Day Holy?

Wise Preparation

To keep the Sabbath day holy, we must be prepared to rest on the Sabbath, attend Church meetings, and enjoy the day in peaceful, righteous activities. This requires serious preparation during the preceding six days. Mothers in particular need to plan ahead and guide family members to do likewise. Sister Marilyn T. Brockbank wrote of her experience in learning to prepare for the Sabbath:

“I remember saying to my husband, ‘What is wrong with me? … I get a headache Saturday afternoon and it’s Monday before I have any peace. … Where are all those blessings we are promised? I keep the Sabbath day. I don’t go to movies or shop. I go to my meetings. What is wrong with me?’ Well, I found out what was wrong with me. …

“I knew in my heart, when I slipped in a batch of wash on Sunday, or vacuumed the floor, or stole a peaceful moment after church to sew and watch TV, that I was not keeping the commandments and therefore had no blessing.

“What a sense of peace and joy it gave me to commit my heart to the proposition that I would start the very next Sabbath day to keep it holy. Once having made the decision, I was filled with inspiration as to the details of making it truly workable. …

“I first list everything in detail that has to be done by Saturday midnight. This includes the house to be well cleaned, … all clothing ready for every member of the family for Sunday, shoes shined … ; it also includes those clothes needed first thing Monday morning to get the children off to school. Children must have their hair … shampooed and have their baths. My own hair has to be taken care of and the Sunday School music for which I am responsible prepared.

“Next, all three meals are to be planned, shopped for, and prepared ahead. …

“At last I have peace in my world on the Sabbath day, and I have begun to look forward to it with joy. I find that I cannot refrain from smiling when I contemplate the precious hours that are mine to read or to think and meditate, to pray, to really rest and refresh my soul.

“… I have found extra strength and wisdom in caring for and dealing with my children. I have felt more love filling my heart and flowing out to them. And I have felt great abundance of the Spirit in me and a closeness to God, a feeling of his love and a new joy in prayer. …

“The Lord has said that he will provide a way for us to accomplish the things he commands. In addition, he promises immediate gifts of the Spirit. …

“I testify that if you will go to him in your … situations and struggles, you will receive knowledge and inspiration as I did” (“Prepare to Keep the Sabbath Day Holy,” Ensign, Mar. 1972, 44–45).

  • What blessings did Sister Brockbank receive from keeping the Sabbath day holy?

  • Read the words to the song “Saturday,” found below.

    Saturday is a special day.
    It’s the day we get ready for Sunday:
    We clean the house, and we shop at the store,
    So we won’t have to work until Monday.
    We brush our clothes, and we shine our shoes,
    And we call it our get-the-work-done day.
    Then we trim our nails, and we shampoo our hair,

    So we can be ready for Sunday! (Children’s Songbook, 196.)

  • Display visual 4-a, “Why are these poor ways to spend the Sabbath day?” What are these people doing on Sunday that they should have done on Saturday?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks told of his experience as a student:

“When I left this campus [BYU] to study at the University of Chicago, my mother reminded me that my father had never studied on the Sabbath during his professional training. She said to me very casually, ‘Son, if you want to enjoy that blessing you should arrange your activities so that you never study, so that you never do anything on the Sabbath except partake of the spiritual food that is available to you on the Lord’s day.’

“I made up my mind at that time that I would observe the Sabbath faithfully so that I could qualify for the blessings of spiritual growth and the companionship of the Spirit that come from observing faithfully the Sabbath of our Lord. I testify to you that I realized those blessings in measurable ways on innumerable occasions” (“The Blessing of Commandments,” in Speeches of the Year, 1974, 219).

We should encourage our children to study and prepare their lessons before the Sabbath so they will be prepared to rest on that day.

In addition to preparing our home, food, and clothing and helping our children prepare, we can prepare for the Sabbath in other ways. We can get a good night’s rest on Saturday night. We can provide opportunities for recreation, sports, and other amusements during the week instead of on the Sabbath.

  • What are some other ways we can prepare for the Sabbath?

If we are properly prepared for the Sabbath, we will have more peace in our homes. We will be spiritually prepared and thus more receptive to what the Spirit has to teach us. We will be able to receive the blessings the Lord bestows on those who keep His day holy.

Proper Worship, Rest, and Service

As we attend Church meetings, additional blessings come to us. We are uplifted as we worship together. Singing hymns can bring “a blessing upon [our] heads” (see D&C 25:12). Attending these meetings and partaking of the sacrament will help us strengthen our ability to avoid the evils and temptations in the world (see D&C 59:9).

Unexpected blessings often come from keeping the Sabbath day holy. One restaurant operator closed his business on Sundays because he believed that obedience to the law of the Sabbath would be worth the financial sacrifice. Later he said:

“The year we closed our business on Sunday we made more money than any previous year. …

“The Lord has blessed us over the years and … we are far better off financially and spiritually than we ever would have been had we remained open on Sunday. …

“I have a firm conviction that the greatest guarantee for success in business for a Latter-day Saint is to honor the Sabbath day as the Lord has commanded” (quoted by Ezra Taft Benson, “Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy,” Ensign, May 1971, 7).

President Spencer W. Kimball noted: “In our Christian world in many places we still have business establishments open for business on the sacred Sabbath. We are sure the cure of this lies in ourselves, the buying public. Certainly the stores and business houses would not remain open if we, the people, failed to purchase from them. Will you all please reconsider this matter. Take it to your home evenings and discuss it with your children. It would be wonderful if every family determined that henceforth no Sabbath purchase would be made” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1975, 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1975, 6).

  • What blessings do you enjoy when you honor the Sabbath? As prompted by the Spirit, bear personal testimony of the blessings you or others you know have received from honoring the Sabbath.

The First Presidency of the Church has explained that “the Sabbath is not just another day on which we merely rest from work. … It is a holy day, the Lord’s Day, to be spent as a day of worship and reverence” (“The Sabbath,” Church News, 11 July 1959, 3).

  • Display visuals 4-b, “Latter-day Saint congregation partaking of the sacrament,” and 4-c, “Studying the scriptures can enhance our Sabbath worship.”

    partaking sacrament(click to view larger)

    4-b, Latter-day Saint congregation partatking of the sacrament

    studying scriptures(click to view larger)

    4-c, Studying the scriptures can enhance our Sabbath worship

  • Have the assigned sister give a brief report on what we should do on the Sabbath, as explained in Gospel Principles chapter 24, “The Sabbath Day.” List the suggestions on the chalkboard as they are given.

  • What ideas can you add for keeping the Sabbath day holy?

The Lord would like everyone to have the privilege of resting on the Sabbath day. However, some services, such as those performed in hospitals, must be performed every day. If possible, we should rest from our labors and also help others to do the same.

  • Why does shopping or attending a recreational event on Sunday keep us from receiving the blessings of the Sabbath?

  • How can remembering the purpose of the Sabbath day help us keep it holy?

The Sabbath is not only a blessing to us, but it is also an opportunity to bless others by following the example of our Savior, who cared for those in need on the Sabbath (see Mark 3:1–6; John 9:13–16). Many people are lonely. Others are in need of an encouraging word or a listening ear. The Sabbath is a time to help those in need.

Conclusion

The Lord has given us the Sabbath for our benefit and blessing. If we will prepare for the Sabbath and honor it as a holy day, we will reap its benefits and blessings.

Challenge

Discuss with family members the benefits of keeping the Sabbath day holy. Make plans as a family to more fully keep the Sabbath day holy. Choose to do something to make Sunday a happy, quiet day of peace and rest.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Study Gospel Principles chapter 24, “The Sabbath Day.”

  2. 2.

    Assign a class member to report briefly on what we should do on the Sabbath. Suggest that she give the 11 ideas listed under the section “How Do We Keep the Sabbath Day Holy?” in Gospel Principles chapter 24.

  3. 3.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.