October 2, 2007

"Where Our Hearts Are, There Our Thoughts Will Be"

Brigham Young
July 13, 1855
During the 50s and 60s President Young made a point to travel throughout the Utah settlements to hold conferences for members all over the territory. These caravans often included several apostles, and about 50 others, and were greatly anticipated by members excited for a visit from the prophet. At one such conference at Provo in the summer of 1855, President Young addressed the Saints on their temporal and spiritual duties:

As the people have now begun to assemble, I take the liberty of making a few remarks. I request those who profess to be Saints to exercise faith, and to endeavor to realize that the worship of God is sacred, and beneficial to His people. It is true the we have much to do of a temporal nature, as it is termed; many duties pertaining to daily business and the affairs of this life devolve upon us.

This is necessarily the case, for if we are to build up the kingdom of God, or establish Zion upon the earth, we have to labor with our hands, plan with our minds, and devise ways and means to accomplish that object.

There is a time for all these duties, and there is also a time to serve the Lord by praying, preaching, singing, meditating, watching, and fasting. Inasmuch as there is a time for all things, and as this is the time that we have unitedly set apart for the express purpose of worshiping the Lord, and of enjoying His Holy Spirit by calling in our reflections pertaining to earthly things and objects, that we may attend more immediately to a deep reflection and contemplation of heavenly things, it is necessary for these my brethren, who have accompanied me to this place, to bring their thoughts to bear upon the things that are present, and while we are here, to let Great Salt Lake City remain where it is-don't bring it here.

Brigham knew these new settlers had a lot of care; the droughts threatening crops, mouths to feed, farms to establish, roads to build, irrigation canals to construct, and many other labors. Still, he hoped they would let their minds take a break from the temporal, especially when going to meeting:

Those who have left their families at home, and are away from their houses, cattle, fields, flocks, herds, and other possessions, and also all who have assembled from the different settlements in this county, one and all, let all your affairs, those that you were obliged to leave at home stay where they are, and you stay here and worship the Lord.

In this way every person who has assembled here can feel to leave their affairs and effects where they belong, and bring their minds to bear upon the spiritual things of the kingdom of God. Then they can have their minds enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and understand that which will make them rejoice.

If those are our feelings and determinations, the candle of the Lord will be lighted within our hearts, but if we keep our minds constantly upon our families and effects, we shall be but little benefited by coming here; this is true in regard to each one of us.

Where our hearts are, there our thoughts will be: and if our thoughts are bound up in our earthly possessions, we had better remain at home and attend to what we have most set our affections upon, and not pretend to try to obtain happiness from any other source.
This expression is along the lines of Lehi's reminder to his sons before he died:
Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal (2 Nephi 9:39).
His advice to missionaries was the same; keep your mind on the work:
Those who go out to preach the Gospel and at the same time say, 'My poor wife and my poor children; and I shall be glad when my mission is out,' seldom do much good.
He exhorted again, keep your minds on the Lord when at meetings:
When people assemble to worship they should leave their worldly cares where they belong, then their minds are in a proper condition to worship the Lord, to call upon Him in the name of Jesus, and to get His Holy Spirit, that they may hear and understand things as they are in eternity, and know how to comprehend the providences of our God. This is the time for their minds to be open, to behold the invisible things of God, that He reveals by His Spirit.
Brigham believed one reason we are commanded to meet together often, at least each Sunday, was to engender unity. He said prayer was another way unity could be increased, with families as well as in the Church:

Again, suppose a family wish to assemble for prayer, what would be orderly and proper? For the head of the family to call together his wife, or wives, and children, except the children who are too small to be kept quiet, and when he prays aloud, all present, who are old enough to understand, should mentally repeat the words as they fall from his lips; and why so? That all may be one. If the people will ask in faith, they will receive, and let all mentally ask precisely as does the one who is spokesman.

Let all leave the cares of their work behind them; let the kitchens take care of themselves, and let the barns, the flocks and herds take care of themselves, and if they are destroyed while you are praying, be able to freely say, 'Go, they are the Lord's; He gave them to me, and I will worship Him; I will assemble my family and call upon the name of my God.'

By leaving business and the cares thereof where they belong, and attending strictly to worship in its season, if not at first, you soon will be united, and be able to bring every evil principle into subjection. If all are bound up in this manner, don't you see that it will make a mighty cord of faith?

As with Martha and Mary, Jesus would have us "choose the good part," that of loving and listening, rather than "running faster than we have strength" while neglecting the "weightier matters of the law" (see Luke 10:40-42; Mosiah 4:27; Matthew 23:23).
In speaking more of prayer, Brigham encouraged the saints to repeat the words of prayers in their minds, alluding to a higher order of prayer:

I will now ask this congregation, how many of you thought of mentally repeating my prayer as the words came to your ears? Did you realize that the order of prayer required you to mentally follow the words of the person who was praying? With us every one should mentally repeat the same words and ask for the same things as does the one who leads vocally, and let all say, amen.

There are times and places when all should vocally repeat the words spoken, but in our prayer meetings and in our family circles let every heart be united with the one who takes the lead by being mouth before the Lord, and let every person mentally repeat the prayers, and all unite in whatever is asked for, and the Lord will not withhold, but will give to such persons the things which they ask for and rightly need.
He concluded the topic with an appeal to unity through meetings and prayer:
In some denominations the hearers are accustomed to cry out, 'Amen, amen, amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord,' &c., during the prayer service, and immediately let their minds wander to the ends of the earth. That is not the right way to pray, but let every one throw off care for their effects, for the Lord knows all about them; He protects them while we are with them; and He is equally able to protect them while we are absent; therefore, while engaged in worshiping Him, let every heart be concentrated upon the subject before them. If this congregation will take this course, I promise them that they will go to their dwellings satisfied that the Almighty has been with us to strengthen us; but if our minds are like the fool's eyes, we shall be profited but little.
By following the counsel, we shall be profited greatly. Brigham closed to give way to the next speaker:
It seems to be hard work for me to speak here this morning, and I will give way and let the brethren occupy the remaining time this forenoon. The ideas that I have laid before you, if you think of them and lay them to heart, will do you good; and in our protracted meeting we may be spiritually benefited, and receive joy and satisfaction. I feel to bless you all the time, and pray that we may be prepared to build up Zion and to inherit the fulness of the glory of God on the earth; this is my prayer continually. May the Lord bless you. Amen (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:51-65).


ralleyclimber said...

I learned a bunch from this. Thanks. Are you going to lds.org to read these?

LifeOnaPlate said...

Thanks, I'm glad I can share this stuff with someone!

I am reading the JoD as found on the JournalofDiscourses.org site.

Always feel free to comment, I rarely get enough discussion in these posts.

ralleyclimber said...

I will start to post more.

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