Editor’s Note: This is the companion piece to an earlier article entitled, “Anticipating the Most Refined Society.”

In the spirit of Brigham Young’s encouragement to get “prepared for the most refined society upon the face of the earth” (Journal of Discourses, 16:77), allow me to suggest some practical, down-to-earth steps to move in the direction of creating this most refined society.

(1) Cleanliness is next to Godliness. That’s not scripture, but it is a scriptural idea. The Lord has spoken in these last days, “let all things be done in cleanliness before me” (D&C 42:41). So how is your home or apartment, and your bedroom? Are they orderly? Are they clean? Do the right kinds of pictures hang on your walls? Is everything physically and spiritually clean and uplifting?

(2) I have learned that the human body likes regularity. Whatever “regularity” means in your schedule, it is wise to try to maintain a regular regimen of sleeping hours. The Lord-who knows the physical body well, having been involved in its physical creation-has suggested a specific timetable: “cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (D&C 88:124). The old adage, as some male university students hear it, is: “Early to bed, early to rise; then your girl goes out with other guys!” or, as other students quote it, “Early to rise, early to bed, makes a person healthy but socially dead!” The Lord’s counsel is simple: get adequate sleep, and try His schedule, if possible, to avoid weariness at night and enjoy an invigorated body and mind in the morning.

(3) Punctuality is important. If you are a leader, begin and end meetings on time. Also, be seated on the stand a few minutes before the meeting, for reverence. For all the Saints, being late is disrespectful. Tardiness can become a habit that will detract from success in your life. You don’t want to be late for the resurrection, so get in the habit of being on time now (when Abraham raised the knife over his son-what if the angel had been late?). And reverence and courtesy demand never leaving a meeting before the end of the closing prayer (except in a real emergency).

(4) Attend all of your meetings, make the Sabbath a holy day. Enjoy some socializing, but attend mainly to worship and learn. Do not write letters, talk, text, or engage in other distracting practices during meetings. Participate by singing the congregational hymns and pronouncing an audible “amen” at the end of prayers and talks. Develop a sense of community by sitting closer together and closer to the speakers.

The prophets have given some pointed counsel with regard to our sacrament meetings. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:

“I do not believe that the Lord is pleased with us when we turn this sacred meeting into a concert. I do not believe that he is pleased with us if we assemble in this meeting in a spirit of levity and not solemnity. . . . I am sure he is not pleased when we meet on such occasions to be amused, to be entertained, rather than to be instructed and to obtain spiritual education and thought and reflection.

“I think this is an occasion when the gospel should be presented, when we should be called upon to exercise faith, and to reflect on the mission of our Redeemer, and to spend time in the consideration of the saving principles of the gospel, and not for other purposes” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:341-342).

Elder Matthew Cowley counseled young people to pay attention in the sacrament and other meetings “whether you like the quality of the speakers or not” (Elder Bruce C. Hafen, A Disciple’s Life-The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell, 169). And President Spencer W. Kimball clarified, “We do not go to Sabbath meetings to be entertained or even solely to be instructed. We go to worship the Lord. If the service is a failure to you, you have failed” (Ibid., 170).

(5) While preparing and presenting talks and lessons, observe the following suggestions:

  • Draw very sparingly from quote books; avoid fluff; teach the pure and simple gospel; speak from the scriptures. Give a Christ-centered message, as well as bear your testimony. Otherwise, the people go away spiritually hungry.
  • Do not begin with apologies or excuses, and it really isn’t necessary to launch your talk or lesson with a joke, a poem, or a story just to get the people’s attention. My own opinion is that some stories analogous to Jesus’ life and death are embarrassing and cheapening-there are no human parallels! You can bring the Spirit of the Lord into the room simply by teaching truths from the prophets and the Savior.
  • Use only reverent language; speak with quiet dignity.
  • Do not read your talk. It is doubly hard for people to listen and concentrate if a talk is being read. Know your material well enough that you can refer only occasionally to your notes; that way you can look in the people’s faces and communicate more effectively.
  • Observe the time limit; do not go over your allotted time.
  • If you’re a leader, have a talk prepared for emergency situations.

(6) Remember that a true testimony consists of testifying of certain essential truths; for example, that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior; Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; the Book of Mormon is the word of God; [the current prophet] is a prophet of God today; and this is the true Church of Jesus Christ. But you might think, “I don’t want to get up and say exactly the same things that others say. That would be too repetitious; the people might get bored.” Actually, every time I go to the holy Temple I can hear the very same words, but I do not get bored-not if I am alert, and focused, and tuned in to the Spirit to allow revelation to penetrate my mind and spirit. If what you say in your testimony is spoken sincerely, with real intent, the Holy Ghost will carry your message to the hearts of the people, and that can have converting power; it can change lives.

(7) Follow the four basic steps of prayer: Address our Heavenly Father-not the “Lord,” as that term in common Latter-day Saint usage refers to the second member of the Godhead, our Savior, and we are not praying to Him; we are praying to our Father in the Savior’s name. We address the Father in a reverent, respectful tone. We thank Him for the blessings we enjoy. We ask for those things we feel we need. And finally, we close in the name of Jesus Christ, and say “amen.” (We don’t conclude a talk, however, “in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ” as we do in prayer, because in the talk we are speaking to the congregation, not to our Father in Heaven.)

Use the language of prayer: pronouns like thee, thou, thy, and thine.

Our leaders have taught us that those terms constitute a reverential way of speaking with our Father in Heaven-different than the way we talk with anyone else.  Those who know various world languages could point out that in some languages the terms that we use in prayer are the formal manner of speaking to someone, while other languages use the informal terms. Therefore, it is not a question of linguistics; it is simply the manner we have been taught, in English, to speak with our Father.

Some people come into the Church from other churches and are accustomed to using “you” and “your.” Is that a sin? Certainly not, but we are encouraged to learn as quickly as possible the proper form of address in prayer. And these forms are not easy at times. We say, “you can” but we should say “thou canst”; not “you will” but “thou wilt”; not “you do” but “thou doest” or “thou dost.” So it does take some practice. If you are not acquainted with those forms, how do you learn them? We learn from practice, from listening to others pray who do use the correct form, and from studying the scriptures-that is the language of our King James Bible and the scriptures of the Restoration.

Public prayers should be brief. A closing prayer, for instance, need not include a summary of what each speaker said, nor should it feature an unscheduled sermon. Along with sincerity and spirituality, brevity is a virtue.

As the Saints respond to these seven simple but critical suggestions, they help move the Lord’s Church toward Zion, which will be-eventually-the most refined society on the face of the earth.