Holly Richardson: How I came to know the power of the temple does not reside in the building

I love the temple and was heart-broken when a global pandemic caused them to be temporarily closed. 

Sister Wendy Nelson, in her book “Covenant Women” invited us to try a 21-day experiment: make a sacrifice of time to attend the temple. I took her at her word and have a testimony that the Lord will multiply my time and my abilities if I would put Him first by making a sacrifice of time to attend the temple. 

The blessings of time management and increased capacity are notable and extend beyond my capabilities as a wife and mother. Last year, in the middle of a hectic semester of classes for the PhD degree I am pursuing, I had many assignments due within one week, including two big papers. I did not know how I could possibly get everything done, so I went to the temple every day that week. In the end, I got all of my assignments done and submitted on time. It was truly a miracle. 

I had come to rely on the temple as one of my primary sources of spiritual strength. When they closed, I moped around for longer than I should have. Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said recently, “Limited access doesn’t change the impact the temple can have in our lives” and I started to look for the power of the temple, outside the temple.

I found some things that work for me. First, I am being reminded that the power of the temple does not reside in the building, but in the power of our covenants. I miss the quiet peace of the temple and so began extending my meditation time so that I could be still and listen longer. I’ve increased my time in nature, where I feel God’s presence. I’ve spent more time in scriptures and more time in journaling. 

Then one day in August, when I was wishing I could just put my friend’s name on the temple prayer roll, God gave me an uncomfortable insight. I had been using the temple prayer roll as a crutch, as the easy way out.

I had gotten into the habit of putting names on the prayer roll of those who I felt needed additional prayers and support. I told myself I had done my part and thought about how great it was that so many people were praying for my friends. I forgot about my part.

That day in my garden, I realized that I had not actually been exercising my faith on behalf of my friends and family in specific and personal ways. I had generally not been praying for them by name, or asking specifically for the blessings they needed in their lives. I had been leaving that to the temple and its patrons.

My prayers changed immediately. I’ve started praying for people each day by name and by need. I do not toss off a “bless our family” and call it good, but spend the time to talk to God about the people I love and whom I am praying for. My love for them has increased as I have done so. 

It has also led me to ask myself: what other parts of temple attendance have become more rote than they should be? How can I make my time in the temple richer and more meaningful once I go back? And what more can I do to use the power of my covenants even when I cannot attend the temple in person?

I don’t know all the answers, but I am working on finding what works best for me. And, I’m looking forward to returning to my happy place.

— Holly Richardson of the Pleasant Grove Utah Manila Stake is a wife, mother and temple worker in the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple.