Understanding Baptism


girl being baptized(click to view larger)

Illustrations by Jenn Tolman

Who will baptize me?

Whoever baptizes you needs to hold the priesthood—the power to act in the name of God. When Jesus wanted to be baptized, He went to John the Baptist, who had the priesthood (see Matthew 3:13).

The person who baptizes you will get permission from your bishop or branch president.

What promises do I make when I am baptized?

When you are baptized, you make a covenant, or two-way promise, with Heavenly Father. You promise Him that you will do certain things, and He promises to bless you. This covenant is described in the sacrament prayers that are said each Sunday (see D&C 20:77–79). You promise:

  • To remember Jesus Christ.

  • To keep His commandments.

  • To take upon yourself the name of Christ, which means to put His work first in your life and do what He wants instead of what the world wants.

As you keep these promises, Heavenly Father promises that the Holy Ghost will be with you and that your sins will be forgiven.

Do I have to go underwater to be baptized?

Jesus was baptized by immersion, which means He went completely under the water and quickly came back up again (see Matthew 3:16). This is how you will be baptized. Being baptized this way reminds us that we are leaving behind our old life and starting a new life dedicated to serving God and His children.

Right before you go under the water, you’ll pinch your nose to keep the water out. It only takes about 1 1/2 seconds to go under and come back up.

What is the Holy Ghost?

The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of Heavenly Father’s most precious gifts. Your baptism by water isn’t complete until men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood give you a blessing to receive the Holy Ghost (see John 3:5).

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead. He testifies of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, comforts us, and helps us know what is true. He helps us be spiritually strong. He warns us of danger. He helps us learn. The Holy Ghost can help us feel God’s love.

When you are confirmed a member of the Church, the Holy Ghost can be with you always if you choose the right.

Why do I have to be at least eight years old to be baptized?

The Lord teaches that children shouldn’t be baptized until they are old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. The scriptures say this is age eight (see Moroni 8:11–12; D&C 29:46–47; 68:27).