Temple worship: ‘We draw nearer to God’

Elder Thomas S. Monson, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, speaking to the Saints in a European conference in Munich, Germany, in 1973, encouraged members to "seek peace in our homes and our hearts through obedience, service and love."

As we welcome in the new year, many members and non-members alike still possess a universal desire for peace and happiness that could be attained in those three words: obedience, service and love. If we love the Lord, we will strive to obey His commandments and joyfully serve Him. One of the supreme ways of showing love and obedience to our Heavenly Father is through temple work.Elder John A. Widtsoe in Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke of the temple as "a place of priesthood instruction, of peace, of covenants, of blessings and of revelation. Gratitude for this privilege and an eager desire to possess the spirit of the occasion should overflow in our hearts."

Showing love for Heavenly Father through service in the temples occurs in two ways: as a temple ordinance worker and as a temple patron. Indeed, this love and gratitude is exemplified in many thousands of stories worldwide of the sacrifices and service of members as they serve in the temples.

Sacrifice and love seem to be synonymous with many families who desire to attend the temple to be sealed together for time and all eternity. American missionaries serving in Thailand in the 1980s were humbled and awe-inspired as they observed families who sold all their possessions and their homes to raise money to fly to the temple in the Philippines.

In the United States, many stakes send bus loads of patrons to temples in distant cities. For many Saints, just taking a bus trip to the temple is a sacrifice of time and money. Various wards in the Roanoke Virginia Stake would make a monthly trip to the Washington D.C. Temple, with buses leaving at 12:30 a.m. and arriving in Washington, D.C., at 6 a.m., just in time to start a session.

Ethel Ayers of the Roanoke 2nd Ward remembers those bus trips, but she doesn't remember the sacrifices as much as the blessings. She said, "It's ironic, but when I show love to my Heavenly Father by attending the temple, He shows me love in return by giving me the solution to a problem or a question that has been on my mind."

Other temple patrons throughout the country like Siser Ayers talk of bigger sacrifices of their time with eight- and nine-hour bus trips to attend the temple in their district for just one day. However, they all agree that the sacrifices of missed days with their families and missed sleep are compensated for with the profound feelings of satisfaction and love as they labor in the temple.

Members develop their feelings of love for Heavenly Father not only as temple patrons but as temple workers. The call to serve often comes unexpectedly, but the results are always the same.

Bradford Ennis, a member of the Daytona Beach Florida Ward, remembers his call vividly. He writes: "I received a call late one night from President Joyner of the Orlando Florida Temple. He wanted to see me first thing Monday morning. What a shock and wonderful surprise when he asked me and my wife to be temple workers! I thought I would never be able to do all that was asked of me. I was chosen to work at the recommend desk and greet patrons as they arrive. I greet them with a smile and a sincere heart to make them feel my love and enthusiasm for serving in the temple. I have been blessed by serving in the temple five days a week. It has become so much a part of my life that I feel lost when I'm not at the temple with the other Saints. I know that this is the work of the Lord and that I am an instrument in His hands. That is why I have dedicated my life to perform my temple duties as I am able."

Lucille Ennis extends an added note. She writes: "Young and old, workers or patrons, we are all His children and because of His great love for us, we desire to be an example of His love. As we meet the challenges of each day in the temple, with His love in our hearts, we see the work of the Lord accomplished in marvelous ways. What a sweet experience!"

Everyone needs to love and be loved. It is essential to mental and emotional well-being. This principle is eternal; it is true in mortality and it will be just as true in the hereafter. Love creates a happy heart and a happy home. The temple is a vehicle to attain and nourish these feelings of love. Not only do we perform ordinances for ourselves and our ancestors, but in the temple we also can receive a spiritual perspective. And that spiritual perspective carries with us out into the natural world we live in, augmenting our feelings of love and respect for our fellow man. Elder David B. Haight often reminds parents to talk to their children after they return from the temple and share their feelings of love and service.

And all prophets through the years have encouraged members to attend temples often; to make attendance a regular part of one's calendar. It is a sacred act, and a loving act, to make the temple an extension of our home.

In the October 1985 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley proclaimed that "the sacred and important work that goes on in the temples must be accelerated."

Temple attendance helps us draw nearer to the Lord. We increase our knowledge of truth and deepen our understanding of the covenants we have made. May we make a New Year's resolution that in this coming year we will show more love for our Heavenly Father through temple attendance.