What Nephi Teaches about Prioritizing the Temple Part 1

By Anne Maxson

Have you ever been too tired to do something you know you really should do? Have you ever brushed off a prompting because it didn’t make sense or it didn’t fit into your day? Sometimes those promptings are to bring someone cookies or send them a text or actually call them on the phone. Sometimes they are to read a certain talk from a church leader or a particular passage of scripture. Most of those things we can squeeze into our schedule – especially if the cookies are store-bought. But, sometimes there is a larger time commitment. Sometimes we get a prompting to go to the temple right away. That can be difficult. It will certainly take hours. What if we have other activities planned that require work clothes? Then we have to figure out how to wear church dress clothes for the temple and afterward find somewhere to change into work/school clothes. It can be difficult to make time for the Lord and attend His house but it is always worth it. 

In 1 Nephi 17, Lehi’s family has arrived in Bountiful. They had suffered so many afflictions that “we cannot write them all” and they “exceedingly rejoiced” to arrive at the seashore with its fruit and wild honey (v5-6). After they had been there for some time, Nephi says, “The voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord” (v7). In many instances, the idea of “going up into the mountain” has been equated with the idea of going to the temple. So, Nephi gets a prompting to go to the temple and he goes. Granted, it doesn’t seem this is Nephi’s busiest day – they aren’t actively traveling and, with all that fruit and honey around, hunting for food may not be as much of a priority as earlier.

Nephi receives the prompting to go to the mountain. I think of it as the Holy Ghost saying, “Hey, Nephi, we’ve got something we need to tell you but here isn’t the right place. Come on up to the mountain and we’ll talk there?” Nephi follows the prompting and is blessed with much knowledge and inspiration. He is commanded to build a ship and taught how to do so (v8-11). He is promised to be guided and directed by the Lord and he’s told that when he arrives in the promised land he will know it was the Lord that brought him there (v13-14).

What if he had dismissed the prompting? What if he felt weary in well-doing? What if he’d thought, “Maybe next week. I’ll make time next week. Right now I just want to relax a bit – play some soccer on the beach and eat some strawberries”? In our world, this could look like, “Today is my only free day when I don’t have quite as many obligations hanging over me. I’d rather just have some quiet time by myself and not add another appointment.” Or maybe Nephi thought “I really should go up to the mountain but I also really want to talk to my father more about those dreams with the tree.” In our world, this could look like, “I really do want to go to the temple but I have so much I need to do for my calling. I still need to figure out a lesson for Sunday and prepare a talk. I can’t be prepared by studying conference talks while sitting in the temple.” Or Nephi could have responded, “I’d love to go to the temple but I do really need to make more time for Laman, Lemuel, and Sam so that I can build a relationship of trust and share my testimony with them.” In our world, and changing the family relationships a bit, this could sound like “With my work obligations and my kids’ school obligations, I hardly see them. Why would I want to give up a good chunk of my only family-fun day – Saturday – to be away from them even more – even if it is at the temple?” (Please note that I didn’t say the above activities aren’t bad but it is a matter of balancing “good, better, and best” while striving to follow what the Holy Ghost prompts you to do in that circumstance. And, in fact, all of those things would be good to do.)

In the next article, we’ll talk a bit more about the blessings that came from Nephi’s obedience to that prompting.

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