All through my life, I’ve known the importance of temples. I’ve known they are necessary for us to know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going after this life, because the temple ritual is a review of God’s Plan of Salvation. Temples are also important to help family relationships extend beyond this life and last for eternity. With temples we can also make these blessings possible for our departed ancestors. These truths are taught to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the time they are little and throughout the rest of their lives. I have a testimony of this but wondered why it was so difficult to attend the temple.
So often my good plans of temple attendance were derailed or sidetracked. Why was it that months passed between trips to the temple? Often at the end of the year, I would look back and realize that I had only attended a handful of times. For a while, the nearest temple to me was in Dallas, Texas, a five-hour drive away. Then we received the wonderful announcement that we would have a temple in Oklahoma City in the year 2000. This cut our driving time to less than two hours, but unfortunately my temple attendance did not improve.
This really started to bother me as I listened to lessons at church and heard talks in general conference reiterating the importance of temples. It was obvious that temples are important to the Lord and I wanted them to be important to me.
I came across the following words spoken at the funeral of Joseph Smith Sr., father of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr.
“To dwell in the house of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple, was his daily delight; and in it he enjoyed many blessings, and spent many hours in sweet communion with his Heavenly Father. He has trod its sacred aisles, solitary and alone from mankind, long before the king of day has gilded the eastern horizon; and he has uttered his aspirations within its walls, when nature has been asleep. In its holy enclosures have the visions of heaven been opened to his mind, and his soul has feasted on the riches of eternity.” (History of the Church 4:194)
Why weren’t my visits to the temple a “delight” and why hasn’t my “soul feasted on the riches of eternity”? I decided to take my desires to my Heavenly Father. I knew He would answer my prayers, but as a wise man once said, “You can’t steer a parked car.” I knew I needed to get to work and “must study it out in [my] mind” (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8). I needed to see what more I could learn about temples.
I decided to start learning about the temples of old. I read about the tabernacles that the Lord commanded the Israelites to build as they journeyed through the wilderness. I read about the temple of Solomon in all of its glory. The temple of Zerubbabel was next followed by the temple of Herod, which was visited by the Savior during His earthly ministry.
In the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, near the beginning of its history, a prophet named Nephi built a temple “after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things” (2 Nephi 5:16). Then I read in Mosiah about the great speech King Benjamin made from the temple in the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 2:1). Of course, who could forget the climax of the Book of Mormon where the resurrected Savior visited the people who were gathered at the temple in the land Bountiful (3 Nephi 11:1)?
Moving my focus to the latter-days, I learned about the commandments of the Lord “to build a house to me” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:33) and the intense struggles the early members of the Church had to fulfill that commandment.
It was evident that temples were central to the people of God in all ages. It seemed to me that there had to be additional benefits of temple attendance for the living—more than I currently understood.
A large piece of the puzzle fit into place as I read the words of George Q. Cannon at the Logan Utah Temple cornerstone dedication:
“Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and Godliness, moves the heavens in mighty power in our behalf, invokes and calls down upon us the blessings of the Eternal Gods, and those who reside in their presence” (Millennial Star, 12 Nov. 1877, p. 743).
President Gordon B. Hinckley obviously understood this principle. Looking back to the October 1997 General Conference when President Hinckley announced the plan to build smaller temples around the world, there were 50 temples in operation. By 2009, there were 146 temples announced, under construction, or operating across the world. What an amazing and miraculous accomplishment in 12 short years! Now, in 2019, there are 209 temples that fit that description.
I was beginning to understand. We live in a time that is becoming exponentially more evil. Heavenly Father knew this and instructed President Hinckley to build more temples. He almost tripled the number of temples, in fact! I realized this was to provide the power and protection for us spiritually as well as lessen the adversary’s effect and power on the earth.
As I continued my studies, I noticed three blessings of the temple that I had not noticed before: power, protection, and spiritual refinement.
John A. Widstoe taught that temple service not only strengthens us personally but affects the entire community. He said:
“Men grow mighty under the results of temple service; … the community increases in power; until the devil has less influence than he ever had before” (“Temple Worship,” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Apr. 1921, pp. 51).
President Boyd K. Packer explained why attendance can be so difficult at times when he said, “Temple work brings so much resistance because it is the source of so much spiritual power to the Latter-day Saints, and to the entire Church” (The Holy Temple, p. 178).
Continuing to teach about power, protection, and spiritual refinement, President Packer stated:
“No work is more of a protection to this Church than temple work and the genealogical research which supports it. No work is more spiritually refining. No work we do gives us more power. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness.
Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people.
If we will accept the revelation concerning temple ordinance work, if we will enter into our covenants without reservation or apology, the Lord will protect us. We will receive inspiration sufficient for the challenges of life” (The Holy Temple, p. 265).
Also, President James E. Faust taught:
“We are bombarded on all sides by a vast number of messages we don’t want or need. More information is generated in a single day than we can absorb in a lifetime. To fully enjoy life, all of us must find our own breathing space and peace of mind. How can we do this? There is only one answer. We must rise above the evil that encroaches upon us. We must follow the counsel of the Lord, who said, “It is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places (Doctrine and Covenants 101:22)” (James E. Faust, “Standing in Holy Places,” April 2005).
I know I am “bombarded on all sides” and that I need a “shield and a protection.” I see the world around me and I know that we need to “lessen the power of Satan on the earth.” All that I hold dear depends on my ability to withstand the temptations of the world and endure to the end. I have often worried about how to best prepare my young children to succeed in this world. I know if they understand the power and protection the temple affords, they will be more apt to make temple worship a high priority.
I know a lifetime of study may not be enough to fully understand everything about the temple, but now I understand enough to help me realize how important it is. We have many tools to help us on our journey and the temple is a very powerful one.
Now as I prepare myself to attend the temple, I am filled with excitement. I eagerly mark our ward temple dates on my calendar. The temple has become a top priority for me and attendance has become regular. The old excuses and roadblocks melt away as my priorities shift and I can see Heavenly Father’s hand helping me accomplish my righteous desires. My time in the temple has become a “delight” and I am beginning to see the “riches of eternity.” I feel more help and guidance in all aspects of my life as I worthily and regularly attend the temple.
I know Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I know He loves me and wants me to succeed. I know the things I learn and the covenants I make in the temple will provide the power, protection, and spiritual refinement essential to “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).
This article was originally published in February 2009. Minor changes have been made for timeliness and consistency.