I remember the first time I went through the temple like it was yesterday. I remember taking the temple preparation classes and talking to my parents about the process, but I was still so unsure of what was coming. As I entered the temple doors and the front desk worker scanned my freshly-signed recommend, I felt immediate peace. I just knew that was where I needed to be at the time, and the rest of my experience followed a similar pattern.
As I sat through the session I learned so much and had impressions about my role as a daughter of God. There were some unfamiliar things and it was a lot to take in, but I received strong confirmations that marrying my husband three weeks later would be the right decision, and I left the temple feeling closer to my Father in Heaven.
I wish I could say every experience I’ve had in the temple has been as profound as that first one. I always feel peace when I’m there, but there are times when I don’t get as much out of my temple trip.
Getting to the temple is hard for many people. It’s frustrating when you’ve worked so hard to get there and you feel uninspired. Distractions, worries, illness, and physical circumstances can keep us from enjoying the full temple experience, but they don’t have to. Here are some things you can do to get the most out of going to the temple.
1. Turn off the distractions.
We know things like TV shows with vulgar content and songs with bad language block the Spirit from entering our lives. It’s important to eliminate these types of things as much as possible so we can always have the Spirit with us. Doing this can open your heart to revelation and make it easier to feel inspired, especially in the temple.
There are also small things we do on a daily basis that distract us from the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, making it difficult to feel God’s love and receive inspiration. Things like social media, crazy schedules, and background noise aren’t necessarily bad things, but having too many distractions diverts our attention from what’s most important. Give yourself time before you attend the temple to unwind, meditate, and pray. This will get you in the right mindset to be able to feel the Spirit while you’re there.
2. Sincerely pray before you go.
Praying before you attend the temple is so important whether you’re going as part of your regular routine or you need an answer to a huge life decision. This is something I struggle with because it seems that I’m always on a time crunch, rushing out the door to make the next session. I think to myself, “I’ll have time to pray when I get there.”
Praying before you leave will set the tone for your entire experience. After you get ready, kneel down and ask your Father in Heaven to bless you with an open mind and an open heart to be ready to receive any inspiration that He might have in store for you.
3. Don’t get frustrated if you feel confused or uncomfortable.
If people wouldn’t have told me this before I went through the temple for the first time, I believe my experience would have been much different. There are so many things to learn in the temple, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and anxious about it all.
In Anthony Sweat’s book The Holy Invitation, he writes, “Though your feelings in the temple will hopefully be primarily positive, you also need to pay attention to what makes you feel confused, challenged, or perhaps even unsettled. These feelings can be equally important and instructive.”
He continues, “Some people have introduced the idea in [the Church] that anything that causes discomfort is inherently incorrect or not from God. That simply cannot always be true. If it were, the pioneers wouldn’t have trekked to Utah, Abraham wouldn’t have offered Isaac, young men and women wouldn’t venture out to uncertain mission fields, and Jesus wouldn't have atoned for us.”
“The gospel is here to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and the temple is no exception,” he writes. If you’re feeling a little uncomfortable about the unknown, it’s perfectly normal and healthy. Use those feelings as motivation to learn more about the sacred covenants made in the temple.
4. Think about the people you’re blessing.
When we perform temple work, we bless the souls who have passed into the next life with the sacred temple covenants they didn’t receive on earth. Some of these people have been waiting hundreds of years for their temple work to be completed, and the ordinances you perform for them are crucial to their progression in the spirit world.
The work you do in the temple is important. It’s not only helping you, but it’s helping those who have passed away receive the full blessings and covenants of the gospel. In D&C 128, Joseph Smith records a revelation concerning baptisms for the dead:
“And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”
5. Do family history work and take your family names.
There’s nothing quite like doing temple work for your ancestors. Elder Dale G. Renlund spoke of doing family history work in the April 2018 Saturday afternoon session of general conference. He said, “When God directs us to do one thing, He often has many purposes in mind. Family history and temple work is not only for the dead but blesses the living as well. . . . Family history and temple work [provide] the power to heal that which needs healing.”
He continued, “As Church members, we do have a divinely appointed responsibility to seek out our ancestors and compile family histories. This is far more than an encouraged hobby because the ordinances of salvation are necessary for all of God’s children. . . . It is breathtakingly amazing that, through family history and temple work, we can help to redeem the dead.”
Participating in family history work and taking family names can rejuvenate your excitement for attending the temple and help your ancestors receive their temple blessings.
6. Leave the world behind.
The world is getting crazier and scarier by the minute. Reports of good news are sparse and it’s getting harder to withstand the trials and tribulation that come with a world filled with such turmoil.
People also struggle with personal trials such as financial burdens, marital issues, wayward children, mental illness, and other afflictions that come with mortal life. The stress can seem like too much to bear, and heightened anxiety levels can hinder your ability to feel inspired, even in the temple.
When you walk through the temple doors, leave your emotional turmoil behind. Better yet, give it to the Lord. He has felt the pains you feel and knows exactly what you’re going through. With Him, you can bear any burden because He can make them light. As you let go of these worries, your heart will be softened and you will be able to receive peace and inspiration.