Making Personal Covenants With God

Mormons are a covenant-making people. When they are baptized, they covenant that they are willing to take on the name of Jesus Christ and to keep the commandments. In the temple, as adults, they make additional covenants with God, promising to keep the commandments at an even higher level.

Baptism is the first formal covenant Mormons make.

Baptism is the first formal covenant Mormons make.

A covenant is a two-way promise between God and man. God sets the terms, but if we keep our part of it, God will always keep his part. They’ve been a part of God’s relationship with mankind from the earliest days. The Old Testament is filled with stories of covenants God made with His people and the results that came about when people chose to obey or disobey the covenant.

You don’t have to be Mormon to make a covenant with God. Throughout the Bible, we find many places where God has asked us to do something and told us what He will do for us if we obey. As you read the Bible, begin marking those verses and recording them in a notebook. Be sure to record both the commandment and the promise. Then, as you pray, make a personal covenant with God to honor His request.

For instance, the Sermon on the Mount offers these possibilities for covenants:

 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (See Matthew 5.)

In verse seven, we have the two parts required for a covenant. Your job is to be merciful. Your reward is to obtain mercy for yourself. In verse eight, you are asked to be pure in heart. If you do this, God covenants that you will see Him.

If you chose verse seven as your personal covenant, you would probably first want to find out what it means to be merciful. You might click on the word merciful if you went to the online verse I linked to. It would give you a link to the topical guide. If you click that, you get a list of scriptures related to the word merciful. The first scriptures are from the Old Testament. These are followed by New Testament verses. The remaining scriptures are from LDS-specific books. The Bible verses are from the King James translation, which is a very standard version of the Bible.

To begin you study on mercy, you would read each of the scriptures from the books of scripture you want to study. As you do so, you’ll record in your notebook what is expected of a merciful person, why it matters to God, and what God will give you if you are merciful. You may want to note people in the Bible who were merciful to use as role models.

As an example, you will encounter this scripture:

21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he (Proverbs 14:21). This tells you that mercy includes being kind to the poor. This aspect of mercy even comes with a whole new promise, making it a covenant all its own. If you are compassionate toward the poor, you will be happy.

You can see this covenant study will not be as simple as you expect. Now that you’ve learned that mercy includes your treatment of the poor, you will need to study the scriptures to learn how God wants you to treat the poor.

Of course, you don’t have to know or master everything about mercy in order to get started. You can choose the first thing you encounter and start living that. As you learn more, you can add to your commitment to living God’s commandments, gradually improving your ability to live the law of mercy.

You will find that the commandments tend to interconnect. Over time you’ll discover that your study of mercy will have you living many other commandments as well. This means that you can start perfecting yourself with just one covenant, but that it will spiral out until you are living all of them. God has told us the extreme importance of keeping the commandments. “21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” The process of making a covenant with God will help you to be a doer, not just a sayer.

Making covenants is a sacred experience. It must never be made lightly and it should not be made for the reward. Covenants are a sign that you love God and want to obey Him and that you trust Him, even when it comes to making hard choices. Making a covenant with no thought of reward, knowing the reward might not even come until the next life, is a sincere act of love and faith. After all, when you love someone on earth, you are willing to change your life and to make sacrifices for that person. Your willingness to do this for God should be even greater.

As long as you’re keeping a notebook that contains your research, why not also record your experiences with the covenant? What are your thoughts about what you’ve learned as you’ve researched? What actions did you take to carry out your end of the covenant? How did those choices change you as a person? How did they change the lives of others? What blessings have you seen in your life as a result of living that covenant?

As you monitor the miracles and pleasures that come with obedience from love and faith, your faith will increase and you’ll find it easier to make the next covenant or to move to keeping that covenant at a higher level. Your commitment to the covenant will increase.

God has asked us to make certain formal covenants in prescribed settings and under guidance from those in authority. Those are also important to make and although everyone makes them, they are entirely personal, made between you and God. For instance, in the Old Testament, God made a covenant with Abraham. This was a formal covenant, entered into in a prescribed way. For Mormons, these covenants are made at set times, such as baptisms and in the temple, but they are regularly renewed.

We need strong Christians who can persevere against hardship, who can sustain hope through tragedy, who can lift others by their example and their compassion, and who can consistently overcome temptations. We need strong Christians who can make important things happen by their faith and who can defend the truth of Jesus Christ against moral relativism and militant atheism.

What is the source of such moral and spiritual power, and how do we obtain it? The source is God. Our access to that power is through our covenants with Him. A covenant is an agreement between God and man, an accord whose terms are set by God (see Bible Dictionary, “Covenant,” 651). In these divine agreements, God binds Himself to sustain, sanctify, and exalt us in return for our commitment to serve Him and keep His commandments.

We enter into covenants by priesthood ordinances, sacred rituals that God has ordained for us to manifest our commitment. Our foundational covenant, for example, the one in which we first pledge our willingness to take upon us the name of Christ, is confirmed by the ordinance of baptism. It is done individually, by name. By this ordinance, we become part of the covenant people of the Lord and heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.

Other sacred ordinances are performed in temples built for that very purpose. If we are faithful to the covenants made there, we become inheritors not only of the celestial kingdom but of exaltation, the highest glory within the heavenly kingdom, and we obtain all the divine possibilities God can give (see D&C 132:20). (See D. Todd Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Liahona, May 2009, 19–23.)

Elder Christofferson, in the talk referenced above, suggests three important benefits that come from making formal covenants with God.

The first is that we are strengthened by the gifts and benefits that come from making and keeping sacred covenants. Each time we keep the commandments, we are blessed by God for what we’ve chosen to do. The more commandments we keep, the more continual the flow will be. This doesn’t mean you will have a trial-free life. No one gets that because trials are part of the purpose of life. It does mean you’ll feel God’s presence more continually as you reap the benefits promised to us for each commandment.

The second benefit is to enjoy increased faith. Alma, a book of Mormon prophet, taught that in order to develop faith, we only need to have a desire to gain faith. From this we can begin to act like a person with faith. As we do this and we see how God blesses us, our faith grows. Each time we keep a commandment, our faith increases because we begin to understand the purpose behind the commandment—commandments are not random assignments—and that increases our faith in God’s wisdom and power.

Finally, he suggests we are strengthened with the power of Godliness as we keep our covenants. God promised us the presence of the Holy Ghost when He was gone from the earth. The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead who does not have a body. His purpose is to testify to us of truth and to help us make wise choices and to remain safe. The Holy Ghost can’t be where wickedness is, so in order to enjoy His presence and His help, we need to obey the commandments and keep our sacred covenants. This leads to a wonderful circle of blessings because the more the Holy Ghost helps you, the easier it is to keep your covenants, and the more you keep them, the more the Holy Ghost helps you.

As Elder Christofferson says, “Divine covenants make strong Christians.”

Summary
Article Name
Making Personal Covenants With God
Author
Description
A covenant is a two-way agreement with God. Learn how to find covenants in your Bible and how to prepare to make and keep them.

About Terrie Lynn Bittner
Terrie Lynn Bittner is the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that have appeared in LDS magazines. She is married to Lincoln Bittner and is the mother of three grown children and grandmother to two girls. Terrie became a Mormon at the age of seventeen and has been sharing her faith online since 1992. She can also be found blogging about being an LDS woman at LatterdaySaintWoman.com.

Comments

4 Comments on Making Personal Covenants With God

  1. rick on Sun, 15th Apr 2012 4:37 pm
  2. My mother informed me on her deathbed that she had made a covenant with GOD and that my brothers and I were “children of the Covenant”. We were raised in a christian home and both my parents died believing.
    Do you have any idea what she may have been talking about and if so could you enlighten me as to where in the Bible I could find the references that explain “children of the Covenant” or Child of the Covenant”,
    Thank you very much for your time and your reply.

  3. Karen R. Trifiletti on Thu, 14th Jun 2012 12:52 pm
  4. Rick,
    Thanks so much for visiting our site and for asking such a poignant question. I will respond by email but would like to reference here that being a child of the covenant is something that means a great deal to a Latter-day Saint (member of The Church of Jesus Christ, nicknamed “Mormons”). Jesus identifies Himself as Son of God and then us, who covenant or make promises to follow Him through baptism into His true and living Church–The Church of Jesus Christ–as “children of the covenant.” I will include below an excerpt from an article on this subject and then email you to follow up, and respond to further questions. Your mother made inspired statements before she left you, likely sensing and knowing that you would search and find answers you are seeking to gospel truth, and to your own eternal purpose and relationship with God and Jesus Christ. It’s a privilege to be able to converse with you about this.

    Kindest, K
    I quote his words to the people of ancient America. He said, “I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” 7

    “All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after … have testified of me.

    “And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

    “The Father having raised me up unto you first, and sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant.” 8

    A giant step toward spiritual immunity is taken when we understand the expression “children of the covenant.” To what covenant did the Savior refer? “The covenant which he made with Abraham.” 9 The Lord added, “I will remember the covenant which I have made with my people; and I have covenanted with them that I would gather them together in mine own due time.” 10

    The Abrahamic Covenant
    The covenant that the Lord first made to Abraham 11 and reaffirmed to Isaac 12 and Jacob 13 is of transcendent significance. It contained several promises:

    • Abraham’s posterity would be numerous, entitled to eternal increase and to bear the priesthood;
    • He would become a father of many nations;
    • Christ and kings would come through Abraham’s lineage;
    • Certain lands would be inherited;
    • All nations of the earth would be blessed by his seed;
    • That covenant would be everlasting—even through “a thousand generations.”14
    Some of these promises have been accomplished; others have yet to be. I quote from a prophecy given nearly 600 years B.C.: “Our father hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham.” 15

    Precisely as promised, the Master appeared in these latter days to renew the Abrahamic covenant. To the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord declared: “Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins—from whose loins ye are, … my servant Joseph. … This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham.” 16

    We are also children of the covenant. We have received, as did they of old, the holy priesthood and the everlasting gospel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are our ancestors. We are of Israel. We have the right to receive the gospel, blessings of the priesthood, and eternal life. Nations of the earth will be blessed by our efforts and by the labors of our posterity. The literal seed of Abraham and those who are gathered into his family by adoption receive these promised blessings—predicated upon acceptance of the Lord and obedience to his commandments.

    Elijah the prophet came to plant a knowledge of these promises made to the fathers. 17 Later the Book of Mormon came forth as a sign that the Lord had commenced to gather children of the covenant. 18 This book, written for our day, states: “Then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel … is already beginning to be fulfilled. …

    “For behold, the Lord will remember his covenant which he hath made unto his people of the house of Israel.” 19

    The New and Everlasting Covenant
    Indeed, the Lord has not forgotten us. And to ensure that we do not forget him, children of the covenant receive his doctrine and claim it by covenant. Brigham Young said: “All Latter-day Saints enter the new and everlasting covenant when they enter this Church. … They enter the new and everlasting covenant to sustain the Kingdom of God and no other kingdom.” 20

    At baptism, we covenant to serve the Lord and keep his commandments. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew those covenants. We may receive covenants of the priesthood 21 and the crowning blessings of the endowment, the doctrine, and the covenants unique to the holy temple.

    The new and everlasting covenant of the gospel allows us to qualify for marriage in the temple and be blessed to “come forth in the first resurrection” and “inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, … to [our] exaltation and glory in all things.” 22

    Children born to parents thus married are natural heirs to the blessings of the priesthood. They are born in the covenant. Hence, “they require no rite of adoption or sealing to insure them place in the posterity of promise.” 23

    Rewards for obedience to the commandments are almost beyond mortal comprehension. Here, children of the covenant become a strain of sin-resistant souls. And hereafter, President Hunter, Emily, other children of the covenant, and “each generation would be linked to the one which went on before … [in] the divine family of God.” 24 Great comfort comes from the knowledge that our loved ones are secured to us through the covenants.

    Unity among Children of the Covenant
    Latter-day Saints understand the word of the Lord, who declared, “I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” 25

    “This great unity is the hallmark of the true church of Christ,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley. “It is felt among our people throughout the world.” President Hinckley continued, “We pray for one another that we may go on in unity and strength.” 26

    Throughout the world, however, strident voices are engaged in divisive disputation and name-calling. Often demeaning nicknames are added to—or even substituted for—given names. Unfortunately, terms of derision obscure the true identity of children of the covenant.

    In contrast, God employs names that unify and sanctify. When we embrace the gospel and are baptized, we are born again and take upon ourselves the sacred name of Jesus Christ. 27 We are adopted as his sons and daughters and are known as brothers and sisters. He is the Father of our new life. We become joint heirs to promises given by the Lord to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity. 28

    Peter used uplifting terms in a prophecy regarding our day. He identified members of the Church as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” 29 The adjectives chosen, royal, and holy we recognize as elevating. But what about peculiar? A modern dictionary defines peculiar as “unusual,” “eccentric,” or “strange.” 30 What kind of compliment is that?

    But the term peculiar as used in the scriptures is quite different. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term from which peculiar was translated is segullah, which means “valued property,” or “treasure.” 31 In the New Testament, the Greek term from which peculiar was translated is peripoiesis, which means “possession,” or “an obtaining.” 32

    Thus, we see that the scriptural term peculiar signifies “valued treasure,” “made” or “selected by God.” 33 For us to be identified by servants of the Lord as his peculiar people is a compliment of the highest order.

    When we know who we are and what God expects of us—when his “law [is] written in [our] hearts” 34 —we are spiritually protected. We become better people. When the Nephites were truly righteous, they avoided divisive nicknames and “there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” 35

    “There were no … Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.” 36

    That lesson from history suggests that we also delete from our personal vocabularies names that segregate and hyphens that separate. Paul taught that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” 37

    He invites us “to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God.” 38

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been restored in these latter days to fulfill ancient promises of the Lord. It is part of the “restitution of all things.” 39 Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. We shall “be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.” 40 Yet we are strengthened by this promise of the Lord:

    “Ye are lawful heirs, according to the flesh, and have been hid from the world with Christ in God—

    “Therefore your life and the priesthood have remained, and must needs remain through you and your lineage until the restoration of all things. …

    “Therefore, blessed are ye if ye continue in my goodness, a light unto the Gentiles, and through this priesthood, a savior unto my people Israel.” 41

    With that doctrine implanted deeply within our souls, the sting of death is soothed and spiritual protection is provided. Children of the covenant will be blessed—here and hereafter—I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

  5. Jason on Mon, 9th Jun 2014 10:49 pm
  6. Lately I have been dealing with a serious addiction to my pain medicine. I have tried so many times to stop. So I prayed to my father in heaven and told him I would never touch it again if he could help me. I read on your site that he sets the trends for a covenant with him. Do you think this could be a real covenant or promise? Or am I on my own? I’ve been inactive in church for a couple years but I know I kept my end of my promise. What do you think of my situation?

  7. Terrie Lynn Bittner on Tue, 10th Jun 2014 3:53 am
  8. Jason, thank you so much for your question. I think it’s wonderful that you have decided to gain mastery over your addiction. It’s so hard, but it’s so worth it. One verse I really like in the scriptures is:

    “The burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).

    The scriptures tell us that if we make a commitment to live the gospel and to overcome our trials, God will be there to help us through them. We’re not always perfect on the first try, and He never promised it would be easy, but He did promise to help us through it and to strengthen us. I think that counts as a covenant–you try to live the gospel and He will help you through your trials if you ask Him for help.

    Are you familiar with the Church’s addiction recovery program? This is a free program and you don’t have to be active to participate. It’s a twelve-step program that centers on the atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s not medical care–just support and spiritual strength. The entire program is online, but it’s more helpful if you can attend meetings, so that the missionaries who run the program and the others who attend can encourage you and support you. https://addictionrecovery.lds.org/?lang=eng

    You took an important step in promising God you would never touch the pain medication again. Once you take that step, God steps in to help you through the process, so that you won’t be alone in even the hardest moments. The more completely you turn your life over to Him, the more help you will receive from Him and the easier it will be for you to feel His presence and comfort.

    It’s clear you’ve made an important decision in terms of your relationship with God. I hope you’ll follow it up by attending church again and meeting with your bishop, who can help you find the resources you need to complete your process of working through your trials. Do you have home teachers? If you do, they can keep you company your first day back. If you don’t, or don’t know who they are, you can ask the missionaries to visit you. Then when you return the first Sunday, they can sit with you and show you how to find your place in the church again, as well as answer any questions or concerns you have. You can use this page to find out how to reach someone at church if you want someone to talk to before returning: https://www.lds.org/locations?lang=eng

    When you’re trying to live the gospel in any way–including giving up an addiction–you are never on your own. No one wants you to succeed more than He does, so He is always ready to step in and help. He just needed your invitation. Congratulations on taking that step and I hope you’ll continue to reach out to God. Please let me know how things are going from time to time.

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