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Question

 

Gramps,

Why do we put names on the altars of the temple? It seems like some sort of magical wish-making. We are supposed to write a few markings that represent the phoneticism of someone’s name, which gets anonymously prayed over by people who don’t know either the individual target or the name submitter, and who never even see the name. The whole thing leaves me shaking my head. It’s not that I don’t believe it has efficacy, but in this case, my belief is based totally on what some would call “blind faith.”

Stephen

 

Answer

 

Stephen,

You show insight in noting there really are a great many things we do based on blind faith, more than we care to admit.  This alone is not necessarily cause to shun it.  Adam himself admitted, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” (Moses 5:6).  Adam was certainly a strong yet obedient man.  Yet his faith wasn’t entirely blind.  Faith in the Lord was what provided him enough insight to know that this was the right thing to do at the time.

It is clear, however, from the Angel’s response that man is not meant to be left in ignorance.  After he showed obedience, he was taught the meaning.  We strive to learn, we pray, we obey, and we listen for a response, the obedience being pretty important.  Jesus himself told his disciples that “If any man shall do his will he shall know of the doctrine.” (John 7:17)

Remember that blind faith is often founded on something somewhat unrelated, like our faith in the temple ordinances, the counsel of the prophet, and the divinity of the Atonement.  That said, sometimes blind obedience is the only way to learn deep truths.  It was the woman who had faith in simply touching the hem of Jesus’ garments that caused her to be whole (Matt 9:20).  Certainly, there was nothing special about the hem or the garment.  And her actions could be thought of as blind faith.  But it was founded on a faith in something real, the Power of God.

I perceive that this question was probably pricked in your mind because you had occasion recently to use the prayer rolls of the temple.  As you yourself have attended the temple you may have participated in the prayer circle and noted that you had never seen the names on the rolls.  You felt no connection to them.  How could it possibly do any good?  I’ve thought the same things myself.

The connection is the important element.  When I personally pray for my children, they may not know that I am praying for them.  It doesn’t matter.  I love them and I feel for them.  I have faith in the power of prayer so I can faithfully ask the Lord to bless my children.  It only appears that these names are any different.

I once had an opportunity to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  With so many names I couldn’t read them all in the time I had available.  As I read a few I realized I had no idea who they were.  There was no connection.  But the fact that the memorial was there meant something.  The fact that these were fallen soldiers meant something.

I had not served in the Vietnam War.  I had served earlier.  Therefore, I have always been a great supporter of the men & women in the armed forces.  I may not feel a connection to the individual names.  But I feel a connection to all who serve or who have served.  They are my brothers and my sisters, no matter what war or battle they are fighting.  And I feel a reverence when I see a monument built to honor them.

When we look at the prayer rolls of the temple, remember that the names were written on those slips of paper by someone who loved them.  That person had enough faith to come to the temple (usually to perform an ordinance).  He had enough faith to write that name down on the paper believing we would call on the Powers of Heaven.  In a sense he was saying a prayer himself.  Then that same person probably came back to the temple in subsequent weeks to pray over the roll with the very names he wrote down.  His faith was active.

As for us, we need to know that although we don’t know each name or their separate needs, we see them as our brothers and sisters in the Lord no matter what their personal battles are in life.  We pray with faith and have a hope in Christ that the Lord will bless them to endure with faith throughout all their individual trials in life.  We pray for those who wrote the names down, that they too may be comforted.  As we do this (the Lord’s will) we will begin to know of the doctrine.  We will find an increased faith in the power of prayer and all the many facets and methods in which it can work.  And we will do it no longer in ignorance, but in true and lasting faith.

 

 

Gramps

 

 

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