I was just wondering if it is okay to go to the temple and just sit and ponder without having to go thru a session? Sometimes I really feel the need to be out of the world for just a quiet moment. Is the temple appropriate for this use? Thanks for any thoughts.
You have asked a wonderful question, one that I’m sure most temple going adults have wondered about before. When I think about your question I also think of the synonyms to “ponder,” such as go to the temple to: meditate, reflect on, think about or even better to “contemplate.” Elder Russell M. Nelson once shared the following:
“My third suggestion is to contemplate. This word has deep meaning. It comes from Latin roots: con, meaning “with,” and templum, meaning “a space or place to meditate.” It is the root from which the word temple comes.”
The temple is a wonderful place to go and ponder/contemplate!
There are a couple of places at an LDS temple where an individual can go to sit and ponder without going through a full endowment session.
The first place and most easily accessible is the temple grounds, outside the temple. While this might not be true at all temples, many temples have “quiet” peaceful temple grounds. Simply by being on the temple grounds, viewing the temple, enjoying nature and resting on a bench can give many people a place for some much needed alone time away from the world to sit and ponder.
The second place that comes to mind is actually inside the temple, in the non-patron waiting area. This room is a “waiting” room, so periodically individuals, LDS members and non-LDS members may be coming and going in there. This room tends to be fairly peaceful most of the time and allows you to enter the temple without a recommend and without having to change into temple clothes.
Perhaps the place in the temple you were really inquiring about is the Celestial Room. The Celestial Room is reserved for those that have participated in other temple work during that same visit. Participating in an Endowment Session, Initiatories, Baptism for the Dead or Sealings all qualify as temple work. Each type of temple work varies in duration.
Temple Work Times:
Endowment (approx 2 hours)
Initiatory (approx 1 hour)
Sealings (approx 1 hour)
Baptism for the Dead (varies)
Initiatory or Sealing work are both ways to enter the Celestial room in about half the time of an Endowment Session. To enter the Celestial Room you do not need to be in full temple robes, you simply need to be in your white clothes.
From time to time individuals simply get dressed in their whites at the temple and go directly to Celestial Room without having done any temple work first. While this occasionally does happen, barring a couple of health or disability exceptions, I don’t believe this is necessarily keeping with the spirit of why the temple is really there. After an individual has received their own ordinances in the temple, each subsequent visit should be first and foremost a time of sacred service for someone who cannot do it for themselves, meaning those who have passed on.
Though we are offering service through temple work to others, we are still encouraged to personally ponder during that time. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said,
“We are not merely to attend the temple mechanically to do the work for our dead, but when we go, we ought also to meditate and contemplate, perhaps having spiritual experiences there while at the same time we are doing what may seem to be a rather routine duty. (Notwithstanding My Weakness (1981), p.111)
Part of the reason that we feel the Spirit so strongly, receive inspiration and are able to find clarity at the temple is because we have performed service for others. By providing this service, we are in a better position to receive impressions and guidance from the Holy Ghost versus just going to try and solve a problem alone – there is great virtue in service. As we serve those on the other side, they in turn are able to serve us and thus both groups receive blessings.
Melanie, the temple is a wonderful place to ponder and I would suggest that adding service (temple work) to your pondering makes it even more wonderful.
Thank you for your question.