Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when parents teach reverence by precept and by personal example. Reverence is showing our love for God; it prepares us to receive personal revelation. When we are reverent, we become more sensitive to the still, small voice of the Spirit. Heavenly Father will trust us and reveal additional truths to us when we treat sacred things with reverence.
By teaching reverence to the rising generation, our nation could receive a spiritual awakening. According to an unknown author, some signs of a spiritual awakening are: 1) An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen. 2) Frequent attacks of smiling. 3) Feelings of being connected with others and nature. 4) Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation. 5) A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience. 6) An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment. 7) A loss of ability to worry. 8) A loss of interest in conflict. 9) A Loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others. 10) A loss of interest in judging others. 11) A loss of interest in judging self. 12) Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything.
The scriptures teach us that God communicates with His children through “a still, small voice.” (See 1 Kings 19:12.) They also teach us that we must be listening with our eyes and hearts as well as our ears if we truly desire to hear that small voice. (See Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 11:1-7.) Other scriptures teach us that we must treat sacred things with reverence or we will incur the wrath of God. (See Doctrine and Covenants 63:64; 84:54-57.)
Sacred music brings a feeling of reverence to me. There are many songs that teach about reverence; one such song is a beautiful Primary song entitled “Reverence Is Love” (Children’s Songbook, p. 31; words and music by Maggie Olauson)
Rev’rence is more than just quietly sitting;
It’s thinking of Father above,
A feeling I get when I think of his blessings.
I’m rev’rent, for rev’rence is love.
When I’m rev’rent, it shows in my words and my deeds.
The pathway to follow is clear.
And when I am rev’rent, I know in my heart
Heav’nly Father and Jesus are near.
We can learn about reverence from living prophets and apostles by their own words or in manuals authorized by them. In True to the Faith (p. 145) we learn that “Reverence is profound respect and love. When you have a reverent attitude toward God, you honor Him, express your gratitude to Him, and obey His commandments.
“You should be reverent in your behavior as well as your attitude. Reverent behavior includes prayer, scripture study, fasting, and payment of tithes and offerings. It includes wearing modest clothing and using clean, wholesome language. The depth of your reverence is evident in your choice of music and other entertainment, in the way you speak of sacred subjects, and in the way you dress and act when you attend church and the temple. You show your reverence for the Lord when you serve other people and treat them with kindness and respect.
“As you become more reverent, you will notice a quiet transformation in your life. The Lord will pour out His Spirit more abundantly on you. You will be less troubled and confused. You will be able to receive revelation to help you solve personal and family problems.
“Just as reverence brings you closer to God, irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary. Satan will tempt you to follow the world’s trend to more noise, excitement, and contention and to less restraint and quiet dignity. Like a commander mounting a military invasion, he will try to jam the channels of communication between you and the Lord. Beware of such tactics, and strive to be reverent in all you do. (Additional references: Leviticus 26:2; Psalm 89:5-7; Hebrews 12:28; D&C 59:21; 63:61-62, 64; 109:21.)”
Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy spoke about reverence in General Conference in April 2012 (“To Hold Sacred,” Ensign, May 2012, pp. 109-111). He discussed how three prophets had spiritual experiences that prepared them for their sacred callings. He told us that about 1500 years before Christ, Moses was tending his sheep when he saw a burning bush on the slopes of Mount Horeb. He was fascinated by the bush and made the difficult climb up the mountain to discover why the bush was burning. Thus began the transformation for Moses from being a shepherd to being a prophet.
About 1300 years later, Alma was a young priest in the court of King Noah. He was captivated by Abinadi and his witness of the Christ. Thus began Alma’s evolution from a civil servant to a servant of God.
About 2000 years later, Joseph Smith entered a grove of trees seeking an answer to a sincere question. Thus began Joseph’s journey from a young boy to a prophet.
“Moses’s, Alma’s, and Joseph Smith’s lives were all changed by encounters with the divine. These experiences strengthened them to remain faithful to the Lord and His work throughout their lives despite overwhelming opposition and subsequent difficult trials.
“Our experiences with the divine may not be as direct or dramatic nor our challenges as daunting. However, as with the prophets, our strength to endure faithfully depends upon recognizing, remembering, and holding sacred that which we receive from above….
“As we seek answers from God, we feel the still, small voice whisper to our spirits. These feelings – these impressions – are so natural and so subtle that we may overlook them or attribute them to reason or intuition. These individualized messages testify of God’s personal love and concern for each of His children and their personal mortal missions. Daily reflecting upon and recording the impressions that come from the Spirit serve the dual purposes of helping us (1) to recognize our personal encounters with the divine and (2) to preserve them for ourselves and our posterity. Recording them is also a formal recognition and acknowledgment of our gratitude to God, for `in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things’ (D&C 59:21).
“With respect to that which we receive by the Spirit, the Lord said, `Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred’ (D&C 63:64). His statement is more than a reminder; it is also a definition and an explanation. Light and knowledge from heaven is sacred. It is sacred because heaven is its source.”
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also spoke in General Conference about reverence (“Reverence Invites Revelation,” Ensign, November 1991, pp. 21-23).
“When we meet to learn the doctrines of the gospel, it should be in a spirit of reverence. It is about reverence and how it relates to revelation that I wish to speak.
“Inspiration comes more easily in peaceful settings. Such words as quiet, still, peaceable, Comforter abound in the scriptures: `Be still, and know that I am God.’ (Ps. 46:10; italics added.) And the promise, `You shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom.’ (D& 36:2; italics added.)
“Elijah felt a great wind, an earthquake, a fire. The Lord was not in any of them; then came `a still small voice.’ (1 Kings 19:12.)
“Helaman said of that voice of revelation, `It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.’ (Hel. 5:30.)
“It was Nephi who reminded his brothers that an angel `hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words.’ (1 Nephi 17:45; italics added.)
“For the past several years we have watched patterns of reverence and irreverence in the Church. While many are to be highly commended, we are drifting. We have reason to be deeply concerned.
“The world grows increasingly noisy. Clothing and grooming and conduct are looser and sloppier and more disheveled. Raucous music, with obscene lyrics blasted through amplifiers while lights flash psychedelic colors, characterizes the drug culture. Variations of these things are gaining wide acceptance and influence over our youth….
This trend to more noise, more excitement, more contention, less restraint, less dignity, less formality is not coincidental nor innocent nor harmless.
“The first order issued by a commander mounting a military invasion is the jamming of the channels of communication of those he intends to conquer.
“Irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary by obstructing the delicate channels of revelation in both mind and spirit.
“Our sacrament and other meetings need renewed attention to assure that they are truly worship services in which members may be spiritually nourished and have their testimonies replenished and in which investigators may feel the inspiration essential to spiritual conversion….
“No one of us can survive in the world of today, much less in what it soon will become, without personal inspiration. The spirit of reverence can and should be evident in every organization in the Church and in the lives of every member.
“Parents, stake presidencies, bishoprics, auxiliary leaders, teachers: maintain a spirit of reverence in meetings, encourage participation in congregational singing and the use of reverential terms in prayers.
“While we may not see an immediate, miraculous transformation, as surely as the Lord lives, a quiet one will take place. The spiritual power in the lives of each member and in the Church will increase. The Lord will pour out his Spirit upon us more abundantly. We will be less troubled, less confused. We will find revealed answers to personal and family problems without all the counseling which we seem now to need.”
There is so much noise and static in the world today that people are confused about which direction to go in life. When children and youth learn reverence for God and sacred things, they are more capable of hearing the still, small voice of God giving them direction for their lives. When the rising generation understands and lives the principle of reverence, our families, communities, and nations will receive more blessings from God.