The building of temples worldwide has enabled more and more Latter-day Saints to partake of temple blessings. To learn how members may gain even greater growth through their experiences in the temple, the Ensign talked with Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy, assistant executive director of the Church’s Priesthood Department.
Question: How may members be better prepared to enjoy spiritual experiences when they go to the temple?
Answer: There are a number of things that can be done, both by ourselves and by our priesthood leaders, to prepare us for one of life’s choicest experiences.
Bishops and stake presidents have a privilege and obligation to work with members who are going through the temple for the first time, counseling and teaching them about the significance and blessings of temple covenants. Church-produced materials that offer practical information are available to help, both in temple preparation classes and in one-on-one instruction. These include the booklet Come unto Christ through Temple Ordinances and the temple media kit available to stake presidents.
Beyond that, the same things that generally raise our level of spirituality are ideal preparation for the temple: offering sincere, regular prayers; trying to listen closely to the voice of the Spirit; and studying the scriptures, particularly the parts that apply to temples.
Q.: What counsel would you give to members who are going to the temple for the first time?
A.: I would tell them to expect a wonderful, uplifting, edifying experience. But they may not comprehend the broad sweep, the symbolism, and the doctrinal completeness of what is taught in the temple all at once. It may take a lifetime. I am still learning each time I go. I hope they will be motivated to go back frequently.
I would also tell them to look for the central role that the Savior plays in the plan of salvation and in our lives. I would tell them to remember what we promise God there and what He promises us in return.
Q.: Then, among other things, you would encourage members to look to the temple as a place of learning?
A.: It is a blessing to us to have the schooling experience that the temple represents. We are taught in the scriptures that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness.” (D&C 93:13.) We have a similar privilege of receiving more and more of all that our Heavenly Father has to offer as we grow in our understanding of temple ordinances and covenants. It is a part of our quest for perfection that extends into the next life, too.
Q.: How can those who have been to the temple many times prepare themselves to enjoy a spiritual feast each time they go?
A.: It would help to remember that the temple is a place where, in the love of God and their fellowmen, they offer a service that has eternal consequences for others. It is a great unselfish act to take that time and go to the temple to do something for someone else.
It would also help if they went with some specific spiritual purpose in mind, remembering that the temple is a place of revelation. Often when we go there seeking help with the questions, challenges, or concerns of our lives, we may receive inspiration or a new clarity of thought from the Lord.
It would also be helpful if they went looking for ways to fortify themselves against the evils of the world. The men and women I know who have achieved the greatest spiritual maturity are regular temple worshippers. There’s a commitment about them, a tranquility, and a love of service that are noticeable. Not long ago, a stake president was telling me that he felt uncomfortable without an institutionalized system of reporting temple attendance in his stake. He said, “I want to know which members are going,” and I answered, “President, can’t you tell?”
Ultimately, if the temple isn’t making a noticeable difference in our lives, then we’re not going enough, or we’re not going for the right reasons. All of us need to go back to spiritual basics to help us appreciate the eternal significance of that which we experience in the temple.
At the center of the temple experience is our Savior; the temple’s focus is on his teachings and his way of life—the way our Father wants us to follow. Each time we come from the temple, we should be kinder people and more consecrated members of the Church.