By Hollie Ogden
There are many obvious blessings that come from building temples, being around the temple, receiving temple ordinances, and participating in temple and family history work. We hear often about inexplicable peace, we hear about feeling connected to loved ones- living and dead.
I want to explore some of the hidden or not-as-obvious blessings of serving and participating in temple work.
In the April 2018 General Conference, Dale G. Renlund gave an unforgettable message entitled “Family History and Temple Work: Sealing and Healing.” This talk has always remained in my mind because of the distinct and unique blessings he detailed. In it, he states some of the most needed and incredible blessings we yearn for as Latter-Day Saints. They can come to us through the noble work of finding our ancestors and completing their ordinances. Here are a few from his list:
- “Increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice;
- Increased ability and motivation to learn and repent because of an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and a clearer vision of where we are going;
- Increased joy through an increased ability to feel the love of the Lord;
- Increased family blessings, no matter our current, past, or future family situation or how imperfect our family tree may be;
- Increased love and appreciation for ancestors and living relatives, so we no longer feel alone;
- Increased power to discern that which needs healing and thus, with the Lord’s help, serve others;
- Increased assistance to mend troubled, broken, or anxious hearts and make the wounded whole.”
The blessings he describes are so profound, and all can be tied back to the doctrine and principles that make proxy temple work possible in the Lord’s plan of happiness.
Another gift from temple work is that we can be delivered from our personal “prisons”.
We read in the scriptures that Christ delivers the captives from prison, the prisoners from the pit (Isaiah 42:7, Zechariah 9:11, etc). This, doctrinally speaking, refers to the opening of the Spirit World for missionary work. Because of the Savior’s resurrecting and redeeming power, ordinances can now be completed for those who have died without the opportunity. But, symbolically speaking, I know temple and family history work to be freeing. When I am focused on that aspect of gathering Israel, my problems and sadness seem to dim. In laying down my time and effort, I find my personal “prisons” and “pits” do not seem as wide or deep. I remember that I have a Savior who has provided a way out, and I can rely on people nearby, particularly family, to help me out and up.
This one may seem simple or irrelevant, but in Doctrine & Covenants 109: 55-56, it’s described that when the saints build and go to a temple, “all people and the churches” will have “their hearts... be softened... that their prejudices may give way before the truth.”
We are literally promised that as we build temples and use them, that more people will be led to and accept the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ! That is miraculous!
Wendy L. Watson told this story in a 2003 BYU Women’s Conference address, “One woman was guided to learn how to hear the voice of the Spirit while reading the scriptures. She was tutored to kneel in prayer, to thank her Heavenly Father for the scriptures, to request that the Spirit be with her as she read, and then to tell the Lord what she needed from the scriptures that particular day—one question she needed answered, perhaps guidance in a relationship, perhaps confirmation of a decision. She would then open her scriptures . . . and begin reading. She never had to read very far . . . before the Spirit gave her the answer she was seeking. Through these daily question-and-answer sessions with the scriptures and the Spirit, her sensitivity to the whisperings of the Spirit increased—and she fell in love with the scriptures. I have related her experience to others who then tried the same experiment; the results have been astonishing. Everything from financial problems to relationship concerns have been solved. And in the process, their ability to hear the voice of the Holy Ghost has increased.”
Similar to this woman’s inspired pattern of scripture study, I believe we can come to the Lord with things we desire from our temple worship. Maybe we need revelation on a certain question or decision, maybe we need comfort for a particular situation, maybe we simply need to get away from the stress, busyness, and noise of everyday life. I believe if we tell God what we need- petition Him as the scriptures phrase it- no blessing is outside the Lord’s sphere of capability.
Christ Himself promises that, “if a son shall ask bread,” Father will give bread, not stones. It is our Father’s nature to give good gifts, to grant righteous desires.
These are just a few of the countless blessings described by the scriptures, modern prophets, and members’ experiences that are available to us as we participate in family history and temple work. Go look for more in the scriptures and church resources! Study it out!
Hopefully you are able to return soon to the temple. Petition the Lord for the blessings you crave, and pray for the discernment to recognize those blessings and more- the possibilities are endless.