For the past nine years, I’ve enjoyed serving as an ordinance worker in both the Provo and Provo City Center Temple. I’ve held multiple different callings, including shift coordinator. Over the years, my eyes have been opened to so many things; it has been a blessing in my life to feel so comfortable and confident when I’m inside the Lord’s house.
Every week, I see many people coming to the temple seeking Jesus Christ’s power and love. After all of these years of serving others and having my own experiences, I’ve found a few principles that can help improve and magnify your experience in the temple.
Advocate for Your Needs & Avoid Stress
Many who come to the temple are stressed, worried, or anxious because of their shortcomings, perceived or otherwise. It’s admirable to want to perform the ordinances in the temple as correctly and devoutly as you can. However, the Lord wants His temple to be a place of learning and peace.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it seems silly. Temple workers want to put you as the patron first. Do you need help with your ceremonial clothing? Do you feel lost? Perhaps you’d like to sit in a certain spot in the endowment room or haven’t memorized all of the sacred words needed for certain ordinances. You might just want to go to the bathroom or be terribly thirsty.
Whatever it is, speak up and ask a temple worker for help. Let go of your stress and worry. Our temple matron has taught that there is almost nothing you or a worker can do to invalidate an ordinance as long as you’re trying your best.
You are not the one offering the blessings of the temple to deceased ancestors: Jesus Christ is. You are simply bringing that deceased person to the altar where they can make choices to covenant with Christ. You’re necessary and you’re so needed as a temple patron, but leave all of your fear and worry about the ordinances and your abilities to Christ.
Try Visiting Only for Others
It is absolutely correct and good to come to the temple in times of great need. However, I have been blessed when I’ve come to the temple on chosen occasions determined to think only of others.
Consider this quote from Elder David A. Bednar about prayer. I think it can be applied to some of our temple visits.
“Let me recommend that periodically you and I offer a prayer in which we only give thanks and express gratitude. Ask for nothing; simply let our souls rejoice and strive to communicate appreciation with all the energy of our hearts.”
The examples I give next are not meant to be uncharitable, but a gentle warning of some more extreme examples to be wary of if we find ourselves becoming too self-absorbed in our temple worship.
I’ve had temple patrons so determined to have their temple experience go a certain way that they became upset when small demands were not able to be accommodated. I’ve seen temple patrons correcting temple workers so harshly a temple worker has cried. I’ve comforted temple patrons who leave empty-hearted and overcome with emotions because they did not receive a grand manifestation or answer to their prayers.
We should always come to the temple to beseech the Lord for what we need and want. However, if you feel your temple worship has become a bit stagnant, try coming to the temple to only pray for and think about the deceased person you are serving. This is especially easy to do if you bring a family file card.
Leave the Phone at Home
To be frank, phones are a major problem in the temple. You may think it’s absurd, but patrons use their phones inside the temple all night long. Phones go off in lockers, loud pop songs blaring through the locker room. People chat, text, and make calls. People use their phones as they’re dressing, put it in their pocket, and have it go off in the endowment session. People take photos as they’re walking around. I’ve even seen a pair of grandmothers taking a selfie inside the temple.
People have even become so sensitive to not being allowed to have their phones out that we’ve been trained in my temple not to correct a patron using one unless they’re talking on a call or taking photos of sacred things.
Yet, the temples around the world still ask that all patrons leave their phones off. You may think it’s a small thing, but here are a few reasons why using your phone can be both distracting and damaging to your temple worship.
First, the temple is sacred. Many have used phones to record sacred things and publically share them. While you have no intention to do so, having multiple people using phones makes it harder to ensure the temple ordinances are being safeguarded.
Second, you immediately take yourself out of the temple and place yourself in the world when you use your phone. Your thoughts easily become casual as you see notifications, scroll through social media, and answer texts. The scriptures say we can leave the temple endowed with power. Don’t you want that feeling as you walk out of the doors? It’s a very special experience and one we can lose if we’re too busy wondering what our phone is going to say.
Finally, even if you feel comfortable using your phone, you’re likely distracting other people around you who are striving to connect with God.
If you have a good reason for needing to use your phones, such as contacting a babysitter or a ride, there are beautiful lobbies you can go to, easily going back into the temple to meet family and friends if you need. If you’d like scriptures, ample copies are available to you.
I love the temple. I love serving in the temple and the patrons who come are a very large part of that experience. I hope these ideas have helped spark some inspiration on how you can connect more fully with Jesus Christ when you visit the temple. If you’ve found something helpful during your temple experience, share it in the comments below.