As a convert to the Church I was always attentive in sacrament meetings and listened carefully to what was said. Until two years ago. It was about then that I noticed I was not always focused on what the speakers were saying and my mind would become rickety and wandering. It was time to introduce some simple methods to help focus on what was important. Here is my list:
- Look up scriptures that are quoted.
This is one of my favorites. It works even better when a scripture is read but no reference is given. I see how quickly I can locate it while keeping one ear on the speaker to listen for the next scripture.
- Report on a talk on your blog.
It would be nigh impossible to write about a talk that I didn’t listen to.
- Identify any challenges that are issued by the speakers.
Once I have them all, I choose one challenge to work on this week.
- Sleep sufficiently, eat well, and wear comfortable clothes.
If I am rested it is easier to pay attention. For most of us getting enough to eat should be no problem. And lose the tight fitting clothes (maybe you are eating a little too well).
- Repeat a talk at supper.
By planning to discuss one of the talks at supper I am more likely to pay attention and the talk will have more meaning.
- Don’t watch the clock.
The clocks on the walls are for the speaker so he or she won’t go over time. They are not there for me to look at and see if I can spot the minute hand moving (I never can).
- Absorb the talk.
I try to get really involved in what is being said. Even the announcements. I concentrate on the choice of words in the talks, where the emphasis is placed, and on any personal stories. Sometimes I even count the ums.
- During the passing of the sacrament read a hymn or scripture.
I randomly open the hymn book or my scriptures and read what is on the pages. Today my scriptures fell to Jeremiah 48:2-47, all about the destruction of Moab.
- First be reconciled to thy brother.
Matthew 5:21-24 speaks of being reconciled to those who you have grievances with before offering your gift to the Lord. I used to practice this in England and I would apologize to a member I had wronged before the sacrament meeting began. This worked to put me in a better frame of mind and pleasantly surprised the members who usually did not remember the offense.
- Be willing to pray and to speak.
If I am asked to pray or give one of the talks I accept willingly. First, it obviously gets me involved but secondly I learn it is not so easy to be before 400 people and it reminds me to be more forgiving of others’ talks that are not always the most inspiring.
- Volunteer to take the sacrament to shut-ins.
In our high priests meeting I often have the opportunity to accompany the priests to take the sacrament to shut-ins. As a high priest I preside and give a summary of what was said during the sacrament talks. Obviously I paid attention during the talk.
- Sing the Hymns.
I really try to get into the hymns that are sung and enjoy the songs of praise. I focus on the words and their meaning (I read better than I sing). This puts me in a better frame of mind.
- Help with noisy children.
I could help with noisy children but I never do. If I did it would help others to enjoy the meeting. My wife brings some stickers to church and will hand them to a problem child who then is happy to play with them quietly for quite some time.
- Sit closer.
If I am able, I sit closer to the podium. The closer I am to the speaker the more likely I am to pay attention. In our ward there is great competition for the pew seats. Not because they are closer but because they are softer.
- Listen to the invocation.
By listening to the opening prayer I pick up on pleas for the Spirit to be present and to help the speakers. Just before the speakers begin I recall the words of the invocation.
- Join the choir.
I have never done this but if I did it would instantly involve me in the meeting which increases attentiveness to the contributions of others.
- Make the ward clerk smile.
When the ward clerk does his count and walks by me I make a show of counting on my fingers to see if I can get him to smile. He uses a PDA for the count so my son imitates texting a message to him. These things would probably fall in the category of Distractions to Avoid but a little humor puts everyone in a good mood.
- Enjoy the organ music.
I don’t often get to enjoy the sound of an organ during the week so I especially like to listen to the organ being played at Church. Again this helps put one in a good mood for the meeting.
Perhaps you have something that you do to help you pay attention during sacrament meeting. Let me know in the comments.