Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy


The wonder of it all – the Sabbath day. When we talk and read about keeping the Sabbath day holy, it seems like such a simple thing to do. Yet many of us find ourselves in various situations questioning what to do on the Sabbath. So, let’s consider together what this day is meant to be.

The word Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning rest. We read in the book of Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2–3).

Jesus teaching the Nephites

Jesus taught that the Sabbath day was made for our benefit Mark 2:27). The purpose of the Sabbath is to give us a certain day of the week in which to direct our thoughts and actions toward God. It is not a day merely to rest from work. It is a sacred day to be spent in worship and reverence. On this day we should renew our covenants with the Lord and feed our souls on the things of the Spirit.

President Russell M. Nelson
President Russell M. Nelson

A gift, with a promise

What an amazing gift we have been given, and not only that, there is a promise given in return. President Russell M. Nelson [then Elder Nelson in 2015] helped us understand the rich blessing that awaited:

“Though the doctrine pertaining to the Sabbath day is of ancient origin, it has been renewed in these latter days as part of a new covenant with a promise. Listen to the power of this divine decree:

‘That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day.

‘For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High. …

‘And on this day … let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, … that thy joy may be full. …

‘And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, … the fulness of the earth is yours.’

“Imagine the scope of that statement! The fulness of the earth is promised to those who keep the Sabbath day holy. No wonder Isaiah called the Sabbath ‘a delight’” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath Is a Delight,” Ensign, May 2015).

Church Attendance

Decision making on the Sabbath

How can we ensure that our behavior on the Sabbath will lead to joy and rejoicing? We must prayerfully find what works for our own personal circumstances and allow the Holy Ghost to be our guide.

Darren Steves
Darren Steeves

When our son, Darren, was about 12 years old, he played hockey and just loved it. Like all parents, we fought the weather to get him to practice on time, even in howling, whirling snow conditions. At times we would find the rink closed, so we battled our way home. Many sports have games or practices on Sunday and one day we received a call advising that one of his practices would take place each Sunday. We simply asked ourselves what would be the right thing for us to do in our personal situation, and then we did it.

The situations we find ourselves in are endless. President Henry B. Eyring helped us along with these kind suggestions:

President Henry B. Eyring
President Henry B. Eyring

“You might well be wondering what you could do to live and worship on this Sabbath day to demonstrate your gratitude and to strengthen yourself and others for trials that lie ahead.

“You could begin today with a private and family prayer of thanks for all God has done for you. You could pray to know what the Lord would have you do to serve Him and others. Particularly, you could pray to have the Holy Ghost tell you of someone who is lonely or in need to whom the Lord would have you go.

“I can promise you your prayers will be answered, and as you act on the answers you will receive, you will find joy in the Sabbath, and your heart will overflow with thankfulness” (Henry B. Eyring, “Gratitude on the Sabbath Day,” Ensign, Nov. 2016).


Here is some final, helpful advice from President Russell M. Nelson:

“In my much younger years, I studied the work of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, ‘What sign do I want to give to God?’ That question made my choices about the Sabbath day crystal clear” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath is a Delight,” Ensign, May 2015).