The Saints worked for nearly three years to build the Kirtland Temple. When they were finished, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith the prayer that was to be offered at the temple’s dedication. The Prophet read the prayer as part of the dedicatory services on March 27, 1836. The prayer is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 109. This lesson explores the first part of the prayer, which contains a plea for the Lord to accept the temple and to fulfill the promises He had made concerning it, including protection and blessings for those who would worship there.
Suggestions for Teaching
Joseph Smith asks the Lord to accept the Kirtland Temple and to bless those who worship there
Display a few pictures of temples. You might ask students if they know where each of the temples is located.
Write the following question on the board: Why do we build temples? Invite students to divide into pairs and discuss answers to this question. After sufficient time, explain that we can find answers to this question in Doctrine and Covenants 109.
Show students a picture of the Kirtland Temple (see Gospel Art Book , no. 117; see also LDS.org and josephsmith.net). Explain that the Saints labored and sacrificed for almost three years to build the Kirtland Temple. They saw the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that if they would keep His commandments, they would “have power to build it” (D&C 95:11). On March 27, 1836, Saints attended the dedicatory service for the temple, and Joseph Smith offered the dedicatory prayer. He had received the words of the prayer by revelation before the dedicatory service. The prayer is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 109.
Explain that almost 1,000 Latter-day Saints attended the dedicatory service for the Kirtland Temple. Many more wanted to attend but could not fit in the building. The Prophet Joseph Smith arranged for them to participate in a meeting in another building, and the dedicatory service was repeated for them a few days later.
Invite students to imagine participating in the dedicatory service of the Kirtland Temple: They feel great anticipation during the opening song by a choir. Then Sidney Rigdon delivers a sermon. After a brief intermission, they have the opportunity to give a sustaining vote to Church leaders. Then the Prophet Joseph Smith stands and reads the dedicatory prayer.
Invite a student to stand and read Doctrine and Covenants 109:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for the first reason the Saints built the Kirtland Temple.
What was the first reason the Saints built the Kirtland Temple? (Students should see that the Saints built the temple because the Lord had commanded it. Write the following on the board: The Lord commands us to build temples.)
Invite another student to stand and read Doctrine and Covenants 109:5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for phrases that describe the Saints’ sacrifices to build the temple.
What phrases did you notice? (Answers may include “great tribulation,” “out of our poverty,” and “given of our substance.”)
To help students understand the sacrifices the Saints made to build the Kirtland Temple, ask a student to read the following summary:
Between June 1833 and March 1836, Church members sacrificed time, money, and possessions to help build a house for the Lord. The men volunteered their labor on the construction. The women made clothing and provided lodging. When many of the men were away with Zion’s Camp, some women continued the work on the temple. Some Latter-day Saints, like John Tanner and Vienna Jacques, gave much of their wealth for the building of the temple. Others contributed skilled labor. For example, Brigham Young baptized a man named Artemus Millet in Canada. Brother Millet gave up his job as a stone mason for the Canadian government so he and his family could move to Kirtland, where he served as the superintendent of the construction of the temple. In all, the temple cost approximately 60,000 United States dollars—an incredible sum for that time, especially considering the poverty of the Saints. By comparison, that amount would be worth well over 1,000,000 United States dollars today.
What impresses you about the sacrifices the Saints made to build the temple?
Invite students to reread verse 5 silently, looking for a truth that explains why the Saints sacrificed so much to build the temple.
What truth did you find about why the Saints wanted to build the temple? (Students should express that in the temple, the Lord can manifest Himself to us. Write this principle on the board.)
Invite half of the class to read Doctrine and Covenants 109:10–11 silently, looking for what Joseph Smith asked the Lord to do so the people could receive the blessings of the temple. Invite the other half to read Doctrine and Covenants 109:12–13 silently, looking for phrases that help them understand how the Lord manifests Himself to us in the temple. After sufficient time, ask the first group the following questions:
What did Joseph Smith ask the Lord to do so the people could receive the blessings of the temple? (To assist them with His grace so they could be worthy in His sight.)
As we seek to be worthy to enter the temple, why do we need the Lord’s grace?
Ask the second group the following question:
What phrases did you find that help you understand how the Lord manifests Himself to us in the temple? (You may want to suggest that students mark the phrases that their classmates share.)
Invite students to share, in pairs or with the entire class, experiences they have had when they have felt close to the Lord in the temple. Remind them that some experiences are too sacred or personal to share. As appropriate, share an experience of your own.
How does feeling close to the Lord in the temple influence your life when you are outside the temple?
Invite students to continue reading Doctrine and Covenants 109:14–23 on their own, looking for additional blessings the Lord has promised to those who worship in the temple.
What additional blessings has the Lord promised to those who worship in the temple? (Students should find many blessings in these verses. You may want to list these blessings on the board.)
From verses 22–23, what are some results of worshipping in the temple? (In connection with the answers students give, help them identify the following truth: Receiving temple blessings arms us with power and with the Lord’s help as we serve Him. Write this truth on the board. You might also suggest that students write it in their scriptures.)
What do you think it means to be “armed with [the Lord’s] power”?
To help students better understand what it means to be armed with the Lord’s power, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“In the house of the Lord, faithful Church members can be endowed ‘with power from on high’ [D&C 95:8], power that will enable us to resist temptation, honor covenants, obey the Lord’s commandments, and bear fervent, fearless testimony of the gospel to family, friends, and neighbors” (“Cultivating Divine Attributes,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 27).
How would this kind of power be a blessing to you and your family? How would this kind of power be a blessing for full-time missionaries?
Joseph Smith asks the Lord to protect and bless those who worship in the temple and those who preach the gospel
Draw a trowel and a sword on the board. You may want to explain that a trowel is used to apply mortar between bricks or stones. Ask students how each of these tools might be used in building a temple.
Explain that during the construction of the Kirtland Temple, mobs threatened to destroy the temple. President Brigham Young told of “laborers on the walls, holding the sword in one hand to protect themselves from the mob, while they placed the stone and moved the trowel with the other” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 415). At times, the men who worked on the temple during the day had to guard it at night.
Explain that in addition to working diligently to protect the temple and themselves, the Saints asked the Lord for protection. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 109:24–28 aloud, and ask the class to look for the kind of protection Joseph Smith requested of the Lord after the temple was built.
What kind of protection did Joseph pray for?
According to verse 24, what can we do to receive this kind of protection?
What can we learn from these verses about receiving protection from evil? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If the Lord’s people are worthy and worship Him in the temple, then wickedness will not prevail over them.)
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 109:29–46 by explaining that the Prophet prayed that those who spread lies about the Saints would be confounded and that Church members would be able to rise up and do the Lord’s work. He also asked the Lord to fill the temple with His glory and to provide His servants with the testimony and power they would need to proclaim the gospel.
To conclude, encourage students to always have a current temple recommend, even if they do not live close to a temple. Consider sharing the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter:
“Truly, the Lord desires that His people be a temple-motivated people. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy. … Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. Let us hasten to the temple as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow” (“The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 5).
Commentary and Background Information
Doctrine and Covenants 109. Floor plan of the Kirtland Temple
The following illustration shows the arrangement of the first floor in the Kirtland Temple, where the dedication occurred:
Doctrine and Covenants 109:2–3. Strengthened through revelation and commandments
Under the direction of Jesus Christ, the Prophet Joseph Smith was able to accomplish greater things than he could have accomplished on his own. Referring to the design and construction of the Kirtland Temple, President Brigham Young declared:
“Without revelation, Joseph could not know what was wanted, any more than any other man, and, without commandment, the Church were too few in number, too weak in faith, and too poor in purse, to attempt such a mighty enterprise” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 415).
Doctrine and Covenants 109:5. “Out of our poverty we have given of our substance”
President Thomas S. Monson spoke of sacrifices that are worth making to receive temple blessings:
“Some degree of sacrifice has ever been associated with temple building and with temple attendance. Countless are those who have labored and struggled in order to obtain for themselves and for their families the blessings which are found in the temples of God.
“Why are so many willing to give so much in order to receive the blessings of the temple? Those who understand the eternal blessings which come from the temple know that no sacrifice is too great, no price too heavy, no struggle too difficult in order to receive those blessings. There are never too many miles to travel, too many obstacles to overcome, or too much discomfort to endure. They understand that the saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and every effort” (“The Holy Temple—a Beacon to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 92).
Supplemental Teaching Ideas
Doctrine and Covenants 109:5. Video presentation—“Treasure in Heaven: The John Tanner Story”
To help students appreciate the sacrifices some of the Saints made to build the Kirtland Temple, you may want to show the video “Treasure in Heaven: The John Tanner Story.” This video is available on Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Visual Resource DVDs and on LDS.org.
If you do not have access to this video, you could invite a student to read the following historical summary:
In the early 1830s, John Tanner was a wealthy man. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had a large family, and they lived in the eastern United States. One day two Latter-day Saint missionaries visited to their home. One of them, Elder Jared Carter, administered a priesthood blessing to John, and John’s leg, which had been afflicted with open sores, was immediately healed. John never used crutches again.
John and Elizabeth Tanner were baptized on September 17, 1832. In December 1834, Brother Tanner had an impression that he and his family should move to Kirtland. When they arrived, he found that the mortgage on the temple site was falling due and that the impoverished Church leaders had been praying for a way to pay the debt. He immediately provided the money. He continued to contribute large sums of money to the building of the temple and assist in the work until his accounts were bare. When he moved with his family to Missouri to help build up Zion, he had a “borrowed team and one old broken down stage horse, and an old turn pike cart, a cag [keg] of powder, and $7.50 in cash,” according to his son, Nathan. (See George S. Tanner, John Tanner and His Family , 74–77.)
Brother Tanner was called to serve a mission in 1844. Before he left to serve, he met Joseph Smith on the road in Nauvoo and handed him the note from the loan he had given to Church leaders for the mortgage of the temple site. John told Joseph there was no obligation to pay him back. In response, Joseph said, “God bless you, Father Tanner, your children shall never beg bread” (in John Tanner and His Family, 103). This prophecy has been a blessing to the Tanner family ever since. (See Leonard J. Arrington, “The John Tanner Family,” Ensign, Mar. 1979, 48.)
Doctrine and Covenants 109:22–23. “Armed with [His] power”
As students discuss the power that comes through temple ordinances and covenants (see D&C 109:22–23), point out that full-time missionaries need this power as they share the gospel. Read the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter to emphasize the significance of receiving the temple endowment. You may want to suggest that students write the statement in their scriptures.
“Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call” (“Follow the Son of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).
What can we do to make the temple endowment a greater highlight than receiving a mission call?
Encourage students to make their preparation for temple blessings a priority as they prepare for missions and marriage.
To help students feel the importance of the strength they can receive in the temple, consider showing the video “Strength beyond My Own,” available on LDS.org. Ask students to ponder what they need to do to make the temple a priority in their lives.