A central reason we gather on the Sabbath is to “offer up thy sacraments upon [the Lord’s] holy day” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9). This is an important time during the week to reflect on Jesus Christ and His Atonement and to renew our commitment to live the gospel and follow Heavenly Father’s plan, which enables us to return to Him.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that our Sabbath meetings at church are designed to emphasize “the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as the sacred, acknowledged focal point of our weekly worship experience.” 1
Yet even with the importance of the sacrament, we sometimes get distracted by wandering thoughts and worries during the administration of this ordinance. We might not be solely focused on the importance of what we are doing.
How can we prepare our minds and hearts to more fully worship the Lord during the administration of the sacrament? How can we prepare on Sunday and throughout our week when so many cares and responsibilities rest on our shoulders? Here are five ideas for making the sacrament a more sacred experience.
Elder Alfred Kyungu of the Seventy said: “To be a follower of Christ is to strive to conform our actions, conduct, and lives to those of the Savior. It is to acquire virtues. It is to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.” 2
Heavenly Father and the Savior should be at the center of our lives. As part of our covenant to always remember Jesus Christ (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79), we can do our very best each day to follow Him. When we live this way, He can bless us, and our hearts become better prepared to partake of the sacrament each Sabbath day. It becomes easier to focus on Him when we seek to live as He did.
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, taught that “the ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church.” 3 Our efforts in coming to this meeting can make a difference.
Elder Holland said: “We are encouraged to come to our services early and reverently, dressed appropriately for participation in a sacred ordinance. ‘Sunday best’ has lost a little of its meaning in our time, and out of esteem for Him into whose presence we come, we ought to restore that tradition of Sabbath dress and grooming when and where we can.”
He added, “As for punctuality, a late pass will always be lovingly granted to those blessed mothers who, with children and Cheerios and diaper bags trailing in marvelous disarray, are lucky to have made it to church at all.” 4
Sometimes getting to church on the Sabbath can be difficult. But Heavenly Father sees your struggles and hears your prayers. He also sees your efforts, and He will bless you as you come to church and partake of the sacrament even when life may feel like a whirlwind or coming to church is hard. Elder Randy D. Funk of the Seventy said, “To receive the generous blessings [Heavenly Father] offers, we must act to accept them.” 5 Heavenly Father and the Lord love action; They love to see us trying our best to follow Jesus Christ.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “The Lord’s hand is guiding you. By ‘divine design,’ He is in the small details of your life as well as the major milestones.” 6
Take time every day to recognize when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ helped you grow or succeed. Maybe you accomplished a goal. Maybe you received good news about a temporal blessing. Maybe you felt strength to endure hardship. Whatever has happened, strive to remember God in all things and recognize divine blessings. 7
The Lord knows our sorrows, and He also knows our joys. Remembering Him in all things helps us to trust in Him and in the power of the Atonement. Before instituting the sacrament, the Savior “gave thanks” (Luke 22:19); we can find joy as we follow His example.
“In preparation for the sacrament each week, Church members take time to examine their lives and repent of sins. They do not need to be perfect in order to partake of the sacrament, but they should have a spirit of humility and repentance in their hearts.” 8
The sacrament is a weekly reminder to repent of our sins. But repentance should also be a daily process to help us prepare to renew our covenants on the Sabbath. Take time every day to reflect on how you might have slipped up and then make a plan with Heavenly Father and the Savior to be better for the next day and the coming week. This constant process of repentance will help you appreciate the sacrament more and more as you feel regularly the cleansing power offered us through Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
As we seek to improve, we can remember what Elder Michael A. Dunn of the Seventy counseled when inviting us to become even “one percent better” each day: “Will little adjustments work that ‘mighty change’ [Alma 5:14] that you desire? Properly implemented, I’m 99 percent certain they will! But the one caveat with this approach is that for small gains to aggregate, there must be a consistent, day-in and day-out effort. And although we won’t likely be perfect, we must be determined to mirror our persistence with patience. Do that, and the sweet rewards of increased righteousness will bring you the joy and peace you seek.” 9
President Russell M. Nelson taught: “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” 10
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know that we are not perfect and that we are all going to make mistakes. The Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us the chance to return back to Their presence. Because of this, repentance is a blessing, and the sacrament helps us with that process. We partake of the sacrament every week so that we can recommit to the Lord.
President Nelson invited us to “make your Sabbath a delight as you worship Him, partake of the sacrament, and keep His day holy.” 11 As we follow the counsel of prophets and apostles to appreciate Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and the sacrament, the Sabbath will not be our only delight—following Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will make our lives a delight.