What Should We Do on the Sabbath?

From an October 1984 general conference address.


L. Tom Perry

What Should We Do on the Sabbath?

The gospel is so very simple when we understand it properly. It is always right, it is always good, it is always uplifting. Obedience to gospel principles brings forth joy and happiness. Disobedience has a day of reckoning and will only bring forth heartache, misery, strife, and unhappiness.

Keep the Sabbath holy

There is one of the Lord’s basic commandments which we see so much violation of in the world today. The Lord instructed ancient Israel: “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

The Lord has not withheld instructions from His Saints in this day. In fact, He has given us some pretty specific instructions about what we should do on His holy day.

There appear to be three things that the Lord would require of us in keeping His day holy (see D&C 59:9–13):

  1. 1.

    To keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

  2. 2.

    To go to the house of prayer and partake of the sacrament.

  3. 3.

    To rest from our labors.

Keep unspotted from the world

When He instructed us to be unspotted from the world, I believe He not only expected us to stay away from worldly places on the Sabbath, but also to dress appropriately on His day. I often wonder what happened to the good old saying, “Sunday best.” If our dress deteriorates to everyday attire, our actions seem to follow the type of clothing we wear.

Of course, we would not expect children to remain dressed in their church clothes all day, but neither would we expect them to dress in clothes that would not be appropriate for the Sabbath.

Go to the house of prayer

Attendance at church and partaking of the sacrament are basic for our observance of the Lord’s day. Each member of the Church covenants to always remember the Savior as he or she partakes of the sacrament. Weekly we should each seek a personal experience, a closeness to our Lord and Savior, which, when remembered each week, will help us to become more like Him. We have His example always before us.

But because of human weakness, we make mistakes even after baptism. The Lord has, therefore, provided a way for us to renew our baptismal covenants through partaking of the sacrament each week. When we partake of the sacred emblems reverently and worthily, we witness again that we will take the name of Christ upon us, that we do always remember Him, that we will keep His commandments. It is a time to remember Christ’s atonement, His love, Gethsemane, Calvary, and the empty tomb.

I’ve always been impressed with the renewed strength and dedication which come from weekly participating in the sacrament.

Rest from our labors

The Lord has instructed us to rest from our labors on this day. I am sure this means that a hay baler stands idle in the field on the Sabbath. The family business has a Closed sign facing a potential customer on Sunday. The cash register does not ring to record one of our purchases on His special day. It is truly a day to rest from our labors.

Plan properly for the Lord’s day

What should we do on the Sabbath day? With the proper planning, we should be able to use the Lord’s day in the way that He has intended for us.

From the scriptures, let us remember, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). And again He has instructed us in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Trifle not with sacred things” (D&C 6:12).

I give you my witness that the greatest joy you can experience here in mortality is being obedient to the will of the Lord. May we always strive to keep His commandments, and may we keep His sacred day holy.

The Lord has given us some pretty specific instructions about what we should do on His holy day.

What should we do on the Sabbath day? With the proper planning, we should be able to use the Lord’s day in the way that He has intended for us.

Photograph by John Luke; Christ Holding Sacrament Bread, © Del Parson

Photo illustration by David Stoker