Temple Prep Plus


The hope is that you only go through the temple once – for yourself. After that, it is for others in proxy service. So that one time – the first time – should be wonderful. For many it is the culmination of a lifetime of spiritual development. It can be a joyful, glorious event. However…

I have learned over the years that for many, the first time isn’t so great, and it is a sad, irretrievable opportunity. Some find it weird, some find it confusing, some never really grasp the whole thing and it haunts them for years. And, sadly, some never go back.

The difference between those who regard it as a wonderful, defining gift, and those who walk away with their heads reeling usually boils down to one thing: Preparation.

Those who are in charge of that preparation are, in order, 1) the person planning to receive his/her endowment, 2) their parents and family, 3) their church leaders. However, not everyone has parents who can do the job, or church leaders who will do the job. Much of the responsibility is up to us. Rightfully.

But preparing ourselves, or helping someone prepare for the temple can be tricky business. Not everything that goes on in the temple should be discussed outside of the temple. Some things are okay to talk about, other things are not, and the difference varies wildly depending on who you are asking. (I’m sure some of you are even freaking out that I am even talking about this.)

Because of the real and warranted fear of disclosing too much, I fear that often we retreat too far, and discuss too little, leaving the new temple-goer with an inadequate base of knowledge to make the most of the experience.

Today’s youth have a couple of things working for them in this regard: First, temple attendance seems to be much more a part of the regular lives of this generation that in my generation. They have initial exposure to the temple itself, ordinances, signs, symbolism and recommends. Second, they have access to much more information from reliable sources about how to prepare. Last, they have a much better Temple Prep course, if it is being utilized.

They also have some disadvantages: First, the younger missionary age means that more young men and women are receiving their endowment much younger than before – accelerated by the earlier mission ages. There is so much going on pre-mission, that sometimes this preparation gets minimized in the shuffle. Second, they have access to much more information for unreliable sources about the temple and the ordinances therein through the internet.

Two things concern me:

  1. If curiosity of what goes on with the walls of the temple is not satisfied by what is provided through the proper channels, many youth will turn to the internet for more information – and believe me, it is there from all sorts of evil sources.
  2. I have a very difficult time with the idea of someone being expected to make a covenant with God, on-the-spot, with no forewarning or knowledge of what eternal commitment that is being asked. Surprise!
  3. Often, when someone enters the temple without adequate preparation – both spiritual, and intellectual – they can emerge confused, or put off, and this can turn a great experience into an experience that can test the persons faith for years to come.

I encourage those of you who are preparing to enter the temple to make sacred covenants to do your due diligence before you enter the temple. Study, prepare, attend classes if offered. You have one shot at this for yourself – make it wonderful.

If you have a child that is getting close to receiving their endowment, take their preparation seriously. Spend time discussing and teaching. I have a fond memory of having a long, one-on-one temple preparation class with one of my sons in my truck, as we drove to California.

Now some of you are probably sweating about what I will divulge. Don’t worry – you’re safe with me. What I am going to do is to provide material and links that come directly from the Church that will help in temple preparation. All of it is available on LDS.org, if you know where to look. (You don’t need to buy a book – there is plenty of info for free.)

  1. Endowed From On High (The Temple Preparation Teachers Manual)  This is the manual that should be used at your ward or stake level for a temple preparation class. It is really good, and well worth your time. I was glad to see it was a significant step up from the old manual.
  2. For a greater understanding of covenants, and the covenants you will be making in the temple, I would point you to Lesson 4 of that same manual. AND…
  3. A great article that talks about ALL the covenants we make in our lifetimes. “Understanding Our Covenants with God.” This is a winner.
  4. A Conference talk by Elder M. Russell Nelson, “Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings.”
  5. A short manual, “Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple” is a really nice overview.
  6. For more information of the holy garment and temple clothing, there is a video that the Church released last year to help inform, and still hold sacred our temple clothing. To those of us in the previous generation, this is a HUGE thing – but the times and technology demand that we own the discussion, rather than the adversary. Here is the video:

If you have received your endowment, take a moment and think back to that event.  Were you ready? Was it all it could/should have been? Now, spend the time helping your child, or those in your stewardship to prepare to receive their endowment, and you can help to ensure that they don’t emerge in a glass-eyed fog, but rather full of enlightenment and the Spirit.


(Photo of Gilbert Temple courtesy of Dave Anderson. To see more of his fantastic stuff, go HERE.)




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  1. This was written almost a year ago (so I’m late to comment) but I reread it today because as a YW presidency we have recently felt that we need to do more to prepare our YW to enter the temple. Thank you for sharing the great resources above. Another possible resource would be the lessons in Come Follow Me in July and August. July is specifically on ordinances and covenants; August is on marriage and family. One of the Sunday School lessons is on preparing to enter the temple: https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/ss/ordinances-covenants/prepare?lang=eng. But studying the ordinances and covenants lessons would also be a good first step. Sunday School lessons: https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/ss/ordinances-covenants?lang=eng. YW lessons: https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/yw/ordinances-covenants?lang=eng. Aaronic Priesthood lessons: https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/ap/ordinances-covenants?lang=eng. Thanks for the ideas and resources you share!

  2. Completely agree. Grateful it was a perfect day for me, largely because of my leaders.

  3. I really enjoy your ideas here. I also feel we should spend more time preparing those who are going to make these important covenants. I also have spent lots of time one on one with my 3/4 children who have received their endowment and I know it was very helpful for them. I also have noticed that they were prepared over time by listening to conversations at the dinner table between parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who have already received their endowment. I feel I was pretty well prepared by my mom, but I think my own children have been a lot more prepared than I was. I agree this probably has a lot to do with the fact they have been going regularly with their own recommend to the temple since they were 12. My husband and I were discussing this with our son a few days ago who just returned from his mission. I said I thought the youth HAVE to have more access to the temple because they have so much more access to the evil they must fight.

  4. One of the ways I plan to prepare my children for the temple (among several other discussions) will be to discuss what sacrifice means and to discuss the following chapter from the Gospel Principles book, given to new converts.

    Gospel Principles, (2011), Chapter 26: Sacrifice, 149–54

    I would ask my children how they felt about the concepts in this chapter. If they can accept and understand this, I think they are well on their way of being ready for the temple.

  5. I have been an ordinance worker for the past few years and was just called to be the temple prep teacher in my ward. After assisting several “own endowments” in the temple, I want to stress the importance of being prepared to go to the temple for the first time to my class members. Thank you for your thoughts and for the links to the wonderful articles. Here is another article that I absolutely love: “Preparing for Your Temple Endowment,” August 1988 Liahona.

  6. Nice and timely, thank you. I’ll have the opportunity to visit the temple for the first time in 19 years this summer. I think I remember most of what I need to, these resources will be helpful before the final push. Thanks.

  7. My temple experience was wonderful. I was twenty five when I first went through. I was single and was not going on a mission either. I had people tell me that it would be “different” but I never understood and still don’t why people think that. Maybe part of the reason is because I was older when I went through for my first time.

  8. This is absolutely one of the best, truly useful postings ever! My husband and I went through the Temple for our endowments and sealing 50 years ago when we were only 18 years old. We had NO preparation of any kind and it was a very negative experience. We persevered and truly gained a testimony later but it was a little difficult at first. I am a firm believer in good preparation. We were probably too young, no one told us we needed to be spiritually prepared, our parents were all overly paranoid about telling us ANYTHING and church leaders just seemed anxious to “get us to the Temple”.

  9. I was endowed and sealed to my husband in 1978, both of us converts. Count me in the weirded-out category too. I don’t remember there being any prep classes, and extra books were not in our student budget. Now I have some favorite books and articles I like to review once in a while as a refresher course.

  10. Thank you for the link to the Endowed from on High manual. I was in a temple prep class last year and we didn’t use that manual. I went through for the first time many years ago and had the experience where I wasn’t sure I was still in the same church. I have never been to or heard of a temple prep class that lists the covenants we are going to be making, like Elder Talmage does in chapter 4, and comes out and says there are going to be many symbols used. Some symbols you can explain before you enter and others you will have to figure out later.
    Luckily I had a great testimony to keep me going back to the temple until I felt comfortable, but what a difference it would have made if all of my prep classes and conversations would have been more specific. All I knew going in was that you had to be worthy, that’s where you get married, the spirit is wonderful there, and that’s where we make some important covenants, but I had no idea what those would be.
    Hopefully I can prepare my children better now and help in the next temple prep class with loads of good material. Thank you for all of the links and the work you did to find it all.

  11. Thank you!! I had an hour “lesson” which was way over my head. My first time I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I didn’t even want to eat in the cafeteria. It’s all good now (22 years later), but I’m going to read all your links as there’s still so much I’d love to know.

  12. I was wonderfully prepared to go by a wonderful bishop and RS president. I was a convert and didn’t have family to help so I was grateful for those around me. My husband and I taught temple prep for a few years in our ward and what I was dismayed at was that sometimes the priesthood would try to use that as a reactivation tool. “Hey, you joined the church 5 years ago and we haven’t seen you for 4 1/2 years so lets get you to the temple!”. We were seeing to many go with so little preparation and then not come back to church because they were freaked out! Those 7 lessons were not enough for those in that situation. My husband is now the stake president and that is one of his big pushes, to make sure everyone is ready and prepared for the covenants they will make.

  13. How I WISH I had seen this 9 years ago before I went thought the temple! I was in the ‘weird-ed out’ category myself and seriously SURPRISED when it came to the whole covenant making thing. (Even with temple prep!) My thought process was basically “oh uh, I’m supposed to make this very serious and important covenant? Can I get time to think about this…not really huh? Okay, then, I guess I promise to do that…hopefully.” Still troubles me today because I wish I could have had time to ponder my potential promise to God and really commit myself to understanding it before needing to make it. Oh well, that’s life I suppose. Church is still true <3

  14. Thanks so much for writing this and adding the links. This will be a great help when those family discussions crop up with my grown kids.

  15. All three of my endowed children have removed Temple garments and left the Church. Some actively pursuing other members to leave. They constantly try to share anti-church materials with myself and other members. I would love any suggestion of materials to help on combating the anti-church information they push. It scares me how easily people are turned. I have been encouraged in a recent blessing to share my testimony often with them, but I’m always shut down.

    1. Md,
      My heart goes out to you. I have 4 kids, 2 endowed, they’re ok, but not really strong, and their children are struggling, 2 grandkids have left. Another child left the Church (had name removed from records) to join the Wiccan’s. She’s a witch. The youngest, my only son, moved to his dad’s before he turned 12 and never went back to Church. My heart has been broken and torn for more than a decade. I keep wondering what I could have done better. I know through the Atonement the Lord will give each of them to hear the gospel in its fullness so they can make their own choices (no, I did not teach them all that I should have, and none had read the Book of Mormon, nor had I read it to them, before any of them left my nest) and I keep praying for them, continue to be a good example, love them like crazy, keep their names on the prayer roll, and trust in the promises the Savior has given through his prophets (see https://www.lds.org/ensign/2002/09/hope-for-parents-of-wayward-children?lang=eng). I hang onto that.
      I also love the story found in “From Heartache to Healing” by Colleen C. & Philip A. Harrison, ch.8: “Filled with excited adventurers, the raft was carried along on the current as the stream bed beneath grew rockier. Boulders just below the surface caused the current to pass over them in smooth, unbroken lumps of icy water. The river guide was doing his best to avoid these hidden obstacles, but suddenly the edge of the raft was caught in the upward rise of water over a boulder and the raft buckled and nearly flipped.
      “In a split second, the fun of running the river turned to terror for this father and one of his daughters as they both were thrown out of the raft and into the frigid temperatures of the river. Even though they were wearing life jackets, the deep current around the rocks pulled them under and the shock of the cold water was immediate. Dazed and confused, father and daughter began to desperately flail around, grabbing at each other. Their frantic efforts only served to submerge them both over and over.
      “Gasping for breath, the father realized he and his child were being swept away from the raft and ever closer to the rapids. Terror set in as he realized they could die in this incident. ‘O God,’ he cried out, ‘please let me save my child. Please!’
      “Into his mind came the most irrational and counter-intuitive thought: ‘Turn and swim for shore.’
      “He couldn’t believe that that thought could be from God! How could God tell him to turn away from his child and swim for his life? He knew he could probably make it on his own, but he couldn’t just abandon her to be pulled under and swept away, possibly to her death!
      “In a growing panic, he kept trying to get a hold on her, but with no lasting success. He could feel his strength waning. He knew that within a very short period of time he wouldn’t have the strength to even save himself. They would both be lost.
      “‘Swim for shore!’ The words came to his mind again, and finally a third time. ‘Swim for shore!’ He could no longer deny the clarity and the finality in the words; they were a command.
      “Feeling like a failure, feeling he had lost his daughter, feeling he was saving himself while leaving her to drown, he turned sobbing and swam diagonally across the powerful current toward the shoreline. He couldn’t believe how strong the current was. Every stroke felt like his last. He felt like he weighed a thousand pounds and even when his feet touched bottom near the shore, he couldn’t keep his balance and had to keep swimming.
      “Finally, after what seemed like forever, he found himself in shallow water moving slow enough that he could get his feet under him. Only then, when he tried to stand up, did he realize that what he had thought was the terrible grasp of the swift current pulling him backwards was actually the weight of his daughter who had grabbed hold of a dangling strap on the back of his life jacket.”
      So all of these things I’m trying my best to do. If I do my best, the Savior will make up for what I lack.
      Keep the faith.

  16. I couldn’t agree more. The night before my best friend’s temple wedding (age 19), she told me how weird and uncomfortable she’d been with her endowments the day before — she said it didn’t even feel like our same religion. I felt so sad for her. I received my own endowments 3 years later, 2 months after I graduated from college. I spent those 2 months preparing by reading through a collection of temple-themed general conference articles that a friend (my now-husband) had compiled for his Rick’s College Pearl of Great Price class. (In addition to the stake temple prep class I attended — where they told us to familiarize ourselves with the Pearl of Great Price as the best preparation.) I was not preparing for a mission or marriage; I just felt a deep desire to enter the temple beyond the baptisms I was already regularly performing. I felt very blessed that my bishop & stake president approved my request. I loved my first temple experience, and I know it was because I had more fully prepared than my friend whose sole focus was on her upcoming wedding.

  17. Thank you for putting all of this together in one spot. I don’t believe I had access to the teachers’ manual when preparing to receive my endowments, because I know my teacher mentioned that I would be making covenants but said that she couldn’t discuss them in any way, and I felt rather blindsided. And considering my living situation, I was kind of annoyed at having to make covenants regarding my spouse who I’d shared barely a dozen words with in as many years.

    Now that same spouse is coming up close on the first anniversary of his own baptism. And I am going to make sure he’s more prepared than I was!

  18. Excellent article, and I’m very glad you included the wonderful video. As an employee of the Church for 16 years I get to interview new patrons to verify their records and recommends when they first come into the temple. 98% of the time I feel the new patron’s excitement and spiritual preparation. But there are a few, sadly enough, that I feel shouldn’t be there…yet…and I wonder if it will be a positive for them or not. Preparation is indeed the key, and that goes for everything we pursue.

    By the way, love your book!

  19. When my husband and I were sealed it was wonderful. We had already been married 19 years but when we were sealed we were also accompanied by a 14 year old and a 16 year old who were also sealed to us at the same time. We went to Temple Preparation classes and when I look back, it did not prepare us as much as some other things did. However, the most valuable thing we did receive was instruction from our bishop about some things we would see and do, without compromising the sacredness of it. It made all the difference. We were ready and the information he offered left us with no surprises. I think the video the church put out about garments is very helpful and informative as well. I know others who still struggle and I pray they will someday feel better about all of it. The most important thing for those who might have struggled after their first visit, go again, and again. The temple experience is more beautiful each time I go.

  20. I felt like I’d come home when I went to the temple for the first time in 1978. Everything seemed so familiar! I had seen the temple robes when my mother ironed hers and knew how sacred they were. My father had us read The Pearl of Great Price before we went to the temple, and we’d read the Book of Mormon and New Testament. I knew the Plan of Salvation and my place in it. Another little preparation was that when I was growing up we heard talks in Sacrament Meeting about why we use the right hand to pass and take the Sacrament, and why we raise our arm to the square to sustain someone. I knew as a child it was a hand for making covenants. I don’t think I’ve heard a talk given about that subject for over thirty years. Too bad, because younger people and new converts have no idea.

    I believe the best preparation is reading the scriptures, ALL of them, including the Old Testament, to gain an understanding of the workings of God, as the making of covenants is an oft repeated theme.

    1. “Another little preparation was that when I was growing up we heard talks in Sacrament Meeting about why we use the right hand to pass and take the Sacrament, and why we raise our arm to the square to sustain someone. I knew as a child it was a hand for making covenants. I don’t think I’ve heard a talk given about that subject for over thirty years. Too bad, because younger people and new converts have no idea.”

      I made that connection myself while in the temple my first time. I was baptized in 2009.

  21. They should not be receiving their endowments before they graduate from high school. Our son left for his mission 10 days after high school graduation and we had to wait until he graduated from high school. He did receive the Melchezidek priesthood while still in high school. We were told this is the church’s policy.

      1. Yes, that is true. Missionaries with calls received while still in high school are required to wait until they graduate to get their endowments.

  22. Wise words and excellent resource direction. I have been an ordinance worker in Atlanta for 13 years, and was endowed in 1973, so I have a long history with, and love of, the temple and the ordinances thereof.

    However, I remember one of my nieces receiving her endowment years ago, then spending 45 minutes in the temple president’s office, deciding if she was going to actually go through with the sealing after being so unprepared for the endowment. She did marry, but the marriage only lasted a year, and she has been totally inactive in the Church ever since.

    As an ordinance worker, I find it a great joy to work with young women (and older ones, too…) who you can sense have had an excellent preparation. For them, it is a sweet and precious experience. The same kind of experience that our loving Father and our loving Savior desire for us to enjoy.

  23. I wish I was more prepared when I wwnt to the temple for the first time. My parents couldn’t help much because they had just gone through for themselves one week before I did. I’m glad there are materials available for me to help teach our youth about what it really means and how to make it more meaningful. Thanks for sharing!

  24. I really loved and appreciated this post MMM! I had a wonderful experience for my own endowment, and felt well prepared, partly because of a loving Stake President when I lived in Mesa, AZ. (I’m a Canadian girl, now living in the Maritimes. Had to give my nod to Arizona ;)) Since then, my favorite calling has been teaching the temple prep class. I felt privileged and blessed to be able to share my love of the temple and to share the correct information and doctrine about the temple endowment. As I was also the Family History teacher, it was also a great time to place the seed for that great work as well! You are spot on in encouraging the individual to be as prepared as possible, and how we, as leaders and teachers, can work to make this the best experience for that person. Thank you!

  25. I received my endowment on 25 June, 2016. I was more than prepared. I had taken a temple prep class and read both the instructors manual and the manual “Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple”. I also prayed daily regarding this sacred event and had a very good escort…my surrogate mother. I am so sorry for those that have had a negative experience. It felt to me like the glorious wedding I never had.

  26. I think my best temple prep class was my old testament year of seminary. There wasn’t very much in the endowment that wasn’t part of seminary.

    1. AMEN!! I am 60+ and there was NO temple prep back when I got married. When the ceremony was almost over, I said to my mom: “I’m NOT disappointed, but is that it? I’ve heard most of this from Seminary and reading scriptures.” I was waiting for some big weird thing, but there wasn’t one! I don’t know why we make such a big deal about the temple clothing – if you’ve been to an LDS funeral, you’ve already seen it.

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