Lesson 13: Improving Temple Worship

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

Worshipping in holy temples prepares us to become better disciples of Jesus Christ, and the “sacred ordinances and covenants available [there] make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) encouraged Church members to make the temple “the great symbol of their membership” (“The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 2). In this lesson students will learn ways to enrich their temple worship, thereby bringing greater blessings into the lives of their families.

Background Reading

Suggestions for Teaching

Psalm 24:3–5; John 2:13–16; Doctrine and Covenants 109:10–13, 20–22

Worthiness to enter the temple

Display a picture of the temple nearest your home. Point out that the phrase Holiness to the Lord is engraved on the exterior of every temple. Invite students to read John 2:13–16 and consider how this account illustrates the holy nature of temples.

  • How does this account illustrate the attitude we should have toward the temple?

  • In what ways might people today show disrespect for the temple?

Ask a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 109:20, which is part of the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple:

  • What principle can we learn from this verse? (Students’ answers should include this principle: God has commanded that no unclean thing be permitted to enter His house. Point out that in the scriptures, temples are always portrayed as places of cleanliness, purity, holiness, and worthiness. You might encourage students to watch for this connection when they read about temples.)

  • What are some of the worthiness standards that individuals must meet before they can enter the temple?

Give students a few minutes to study Doctrine and Covenants 109:10–13, 21–22, and Psalm 24:3–5 and identify blessings associated with worshipping in the temple worthily. You might suggest that students mark what they find.

  • What promises are given in these verses to those who enter the temple worthily? (The Lord’s glory will rest upon His people; those who enter the temple will feel the Lord’s power and acknowledge that it is a sanctified and holy place; in temples, the Lord will place His name upon us, and we will leave armed with His power; and in temples we can receive blessings and righteousness from the Lord.)

  • Why do you think these promises are contingent upon our worthiness?

  • What would you say to someone who is wondering whether qualifying for a temple recommend is worth the effort?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:

President Thomas S. Monson

“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. … 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).

  • What blessings have you received as you have participated in temple ordinances?

Encourage students to obtain and keep a current temple recommend for the remainder of their lives. Emphasize that as they humbly worship the Lord in His temple, they will receive the blessings made available only to the faithful in His holy house.

3 Nephi 17:1–3

Enhancing our temple worship

Write the following on the board and ask students how they would complete the sentence:

What we gain from the temple will depend on ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.

After several responses, display the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

President Boyd K. Packer

“What we gain from the temple will depend to a large degree on what we take to the temple in the way of humility and reverence and a desire to learn. If we are teachable we will be taught by the Spirit, in the temple” (The Holy Temple [1980], 42).

  • How do you think your experience in the temple would be affected if you went with a spirit of “humility and reverence and a desire to learn”? (As students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we go to the temple with humility, reverence, and a desire to learn, we will be taught by the Spirit.)

Explain to students that when the Savior visited the Nephites, He taught them a pattern for understanding sacred things that we can follow when attending the temple. Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 17:1–3 aloud.

  • What did the Savior teach His listeners to do that would help them prepare to understand sacred things?

  • How can we follow this pattern in order to improve the quality of our experiences at the temple? (We should ponder what we experience in the temple, pray for understanding, prepare to attend the next time, and return as often as circumstances permit.)

Read aloud the following statement by Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the Seventy, and ask students to listen for phrases that suggest ways we can enhance our temple worship.

Elder L. Lionel Kendrick

“There is a difference in just attending the temple and having a rich spiritual experience. The real blessings of the temple come as we enhance our temple experience. To do so, we must feel a spirit of reverence for the temple and a spirit of worship. …

“To be reverent is not just to be quiet. It involves an awareness of what is taking place. It involves a divine desire to learn and to be receptive to the promptings of the Spirit. It involves a striving to seek added light and knowledge. Irreverence is not only an act of disrespect for Deity, but it makes it impossible for the Spirit to teach us the things that we need to know” (“Enhancing Our Temple Experience,” Ensign, May 2001, 78).

  • What phrases in this statement have particular meaning to you? Why?

Read the following counsel from Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and ask students to listen for suggestions they could apply as they visit the temple:

Elder Richard G. Scott

“• Understand the doctrine related to temple ordinances, especially the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“• While participating in temple ordinances, consider your relationship to Jesus Christ and His relationship to our Heavenly Father. This simple act will lead to greater understanding of the supernal nature of the temple ordinances.

“• Always prayerfully express gratitude for the incomparable blessings that flow from temple ordinances. Live each day so as to give evidence to Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son of how very much those blessings mean to you.

“• Schedule regular visits to the temple.

“• Leave sufficient time to be unhurried within the temple walls.

“• Rotate activities so that you can participate in all of the ordinances of the temple.

“• Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord.

“• Listen carefully to the presentation of each element of the ordinance with an open mind and heart.

“• Be mindful of the individual for whom you are performing the vicarious ordinance. At times pray that he or she will recognize the vital importance of the ordinances and be worthy or prepare to be worthy to benefit from them” (“Temple Worship: The Source of Strength and Power in Times of Need,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 43–44).

  • Which of these ideas could be of greatest benefit for you to apply?

  • What have you or others done to make worshipping in the house of the Lord more meaningful? What difference does it make when you do those things? (As part of the discussion, consider discussing the following statement from the First Presidency: “When members of the Church find the names of their ancestors and take those names to the temple for ordinance work, the temple experience can be greatly enriched” [First Presidency letter, Oct. 8, 2012].)

Encourage students to write down what they have felt impressed to do in order to enhance their temple experience. Encourage them to follow through with what they wrote.

Doctrine and Covenants 109:8

A place of revelation

Explain that in the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph Smith described some of the purposes of temples. Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 109:8. Point out that one of the purposes is to be a “house of learning.”

  • What might we expect to learn in temples?

Display the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), and ask a student to read it aloud:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“This sacred edifice becomes a school of instruction in the sweet and sacred things of God. Here we have outlined the plan of a loving Father in behalf of His sons and daughters of all generations. Here we have sketched before us the odyssey of man’s eternal journey from premortal existence through this life to the life beyond. Great fundamental and basic truths are taught with clarity and simplicity well within the understanding of all who hear” (“The Salt Lake Temple,” Ensign, Mar. 1993, 5–6).

  • How does participating in temple ordinances help us learn the great fundamental truths of Heavenly Father’s plan?

  • How can following the pattern recorded in 3 Nephi 17:1–3 help us learn more while we are in the temple?

Display this statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Legion are those who in times of stress, when difficult decisions must be made and perplexing problems must be handled, have come to the temple in a spirit of fasting and prayer to seek divine direction. Many have testified that while voices of revelation were not heard, impressions concerning a course to follow were experienced at that time or later which became answers to their prayers” (“The Salt Lake Temple,” Ensign, Mar. 1993, 6).

Conclude by asking students if any of them would like to share their feelings and testimonies about the temple. Emphasize that the students are in a very important time of their lives, when many decisions need to be made. Testify that in the house of the Lord, students can feel God’s Spirit, comfort, and guidance.