Do not be afraid to return. This should go for all those who might attend for the first time, or have not gone back. Spiritual rewards will outstrip any discomfort from the unusual experience. There are some things in life that must be carefully cultivated in order to enjoy. Learning from the Temple takes time, patience, and prayerful contemplation. Searching the Scriptures is essential to coming to understand the symbolism and meaning behind the experience.
Become familiar with Covenants. We take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ at the time of Baptism. This includes a covenant to obey the Commandments of God:
15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.
- Alma 7:15-16
The Temple contains similar covenants we have made at the time of our Baptism. They are split into three different areas. The first is covenants we make as individuals. the second set of covenants we make in regards to family responsibilities. The last set of covenants has to do with our membership in the community of Saints. Become familiar with the Ten Commandments and that we should love God and neighbor. Finally, we should do more than recite covenants, but live them with faith. The more covenants we keep, the more blessings we reap.
Recognize the meanings of symbols. Surprisingly, most of the symbolic meanings found in the Temple experience are spelled out in either words or relationships. Watch carefully what happens and listen for any narrative explanations. The key to undestanding a great deal of the Temple is knowing we are the central focus. It is a representative journey from pre-mortal existance to our return to Heavenly Father through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is where a good understanding of Scripture is most helpful, noticing the various allusions to scriptural teachings introduced in new and personal ways.
Use the less understood parts to your advantage. Memory is a vital purpose of the Temple experience. It seeks to bring to mind our place in the Universe and Plan of Salvation. If you do not understand something, try to at least remember it during the rest of the time. It could end up relating to another thing you do undestand, bringing meaning to both. Even if you still don't understand it, focus on what you do know and remember what you don't for later. Part of the joy of continually going to the Temple is that we learn something new each participation.
These are, from my experience over the years, important steps to gaining a sacred respect for the Temple. It takes more than a passive response to become spiritually invigorated by the rich texture that is the Temple.
Let us truly be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. We should hasten to the temple as frequently, yet prudently, as our personal circumstances allow. We should go not only for our kindred dead but also for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety that are within those hallowed and consecrated walls. As we attend the temple, we learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life and the significance of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience . . .
. . . All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them. I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants. As the prophets have said, the temple is a place of beauty; it is a place of revelation; it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It must be holy and important to us.
- Howard W. Hunter, “A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 2