Moroni 6 provides some instruction on church operation, including baptism, fasting and prayer, communion, and requiring repentance when sin is committed. The chapter concludes with a description of how the Nephites conducted their church meetings. We encourage our church meetings to be conducted in a similar manner today:
“And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done” (Moroni 6:9)
In other words, when we get together for a church meeting, it’s not a requirement that we follow an exact script. Perhaps the Spirit may inspire a certain message to be preached on a given day. On a different day, perhaps more of a focus on prayer would be appropriate. On yet another day, singing praises to the Lord could be emphasized.
The point of the above is not necessarily to mix things up just for the sake of doing something different. It’s more a matter of realizing that our meetings are the most blessed when we allow the Spirit of God to lead them rather than our human minds.
Our human tendency is to try to control how things work — including how God works — not only in our church meetings but in our lives as well.
Perhaps you’re familiar with a toy from a different era known as a Jack-in-the-Box. The toy consists of a little figure (presumably named Jack) who lives in a small box. On the side of the box is a crank. When you turn the crank, the lid of the box opens and Jack pops out of the box. Poor Jack is totally under your control — he has to stay in the box until you decide to turn the crank and let him out of the box. And, even when you let him out, he’s limited in how far he can go since he’s attached to the bottom of the box.
Let’s be careful to not think of God as a God-in-the-Box. God wants to be involved in all aspects of our lives, each and every day. He’s not someone to be kept in a box, waiting for us to let Him out only when we think we need Him. Also, our lives will be most blessed if we give God free reign. If we try to tell God how to bless us or how to answer our prayers, we are trying to limit what He can do. Allowing Him to operate “out of the box” may well result in blessings we cannot even imagine.
A scriptural example can be found in Acts 3. This chapter describes a man who has never been able to walk. Every day, he can be found outside of the temple, begging for money. Imagine this man praying one day that God would send someone to give him a piece of silver. Now, here comes Peter who looks upon him and the man is thinking his prayer is about to be answered. Then Peter says, “Silver and gold have I none.” OK, no answered prayer today. And then Peter says, “Rise up and walk,” and the man is able to walk for the first time! God had a much greater blessing for this man than what he ever could have imagined — The Lord’s “out of the box” action left the man walking and leaping and praising God.
As we pray today, are we keeping God in the box? Are we saying, “OK God, I’ve decided to do this, and I want you to bless me in that,” as opposed to saying, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”. Do we tell God the exact steps He needs to take to solve our problems, or can we leave it up to Him to determine the best actions? Would we be comfortable telling God, “I have no preconceived notions of what to do today (or what to do during this church meeting, going back to the earlier example). Feel free to direct me in WHATEVER WAY you want me to go”? Or is that giving God too much leeway?
While it’s not necessarily wrong to pray for specific things, let’s offer God the opportunity to work “out of the box” in our lives. Instead of settling for a piece of silver, let’s set our sights on walking and leaping and praising God!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.