By Hollie Ogden
In previous articles, we’ve looked at when and how to prepare for the temple, and in this article, I will be discussing why. Why is one of the most essential questions in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can know all of the whats, hows, and whens, but if we don’t ask why, we miss the mark and fail to apply the Savior and His power and teachings to ourselves.
Ye Shall Not Fear
In the Doctrine & Covenants, we find the popular adage, “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” Preparation can simply ease the nerves of one who is going to the temple for the first time.
Many of my companions on my mission shared with me how they felt insecure, fearful, even weirded-out by their first-time temple experience. I had to admit, I did not share their feelings. I was prepared by a caring bishop and a very wise mother who taught me what they could outside the sacred walls of the Lord’s house. They shared with me the basic flow of what would be happening, so I could focus on the Spirit and what I was learning. I was at peace when I was endowed.
Preparing someone who is about to receive their endowments, and explaining some of the doctrine can greatly ease their nerves before entering. Describing briefly what happens to a 12-year-old going to perform baptisms for the dead will give them confidence in the experience. Additionally, teaching the why of temple covenants and proxy temple work will enhance their time spent in that holy place. Preparing takes much of the strangeness out of the first-time experience, and can ease the fear of something new.
That Ye May Be Ready
Again in the Doctrine & Covenants, the Lord gives a simple but profound warning to “watch, therefore, that ye may be ready.”
Obviously, we prepare for the temple to get ready.
Adequate preparation ensures we are ready for the binding covenants and obligations we agree to inside the temple. One should know what they are preparing and agreeing to do beforehand. Although sometimes an uncomfortable truth, the Savior teaches that for those who betray Him “it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24) In His house, we comply with the Lord’s covenants by our own free will and choice, so it’s best to be ready before that choice is made under priesthood authority, in the presence of God.
The church has made a shift in the past five years to focusing our church meetings on the sacrament, and church leaders have also plead with members to emphasize preparing for the sacrament. We prepare for the sacrament through the week, down to the very moment before we reach for the offered emblems.
Jeffrey R. Holland so poignantly exclaimed, “as [we] experience a multitude of... sights and sounds, we must point past the hustle and bustle and concentrate... on the meaning of it all, on the beating heart of the eternal gospel—the love of Heavenly Parents, the atoning gift of a divine Son, the comforting guidance of the Holy Ghost, the latter-day restoration of all these truths and so much more.”
The same is with the temple. We prepare to enter from when we walk out until the drive back again. We prepare so we can see Him in the ordinance, and therefore apply the ordinance to our everyday living.
In his most recent conference address, Henry B. Eyring taught that, “If you or I should go to the temple insufficiently pure, we would not be able to see, by the power of the Holy Ghost, the spiritual teaching about the Savior that we can receive in the temple. When we are worthy... there can grow through our temple experience hope, joy, and optimism throughout our lives.”
When we fail to prepare, we miss Christ.
This is perhaps the best and most important reason why we should prepare to go to the temple. If we are distracted during the ordinances, if we have too much on our minds, if we are unworthy of fully having the Spirit with us, we will miss the symbols and truths that illustrate so much about Christ’s role in our lives and in God’s plan.
So whatever is in the way of you and being ready to go to, or return to, the temple: get rid of it. Preparing is studying and learning, but it is also repenting. There is no price that is not worth paying, no habit not worth breaking, no time not worth sacrificing to be ready to be a guest in the Lord’s house.