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What the 1836 Kirtland Temple Dedication Teaches About God’s Love and Power

Elder James W. McConkie III of the Seventy uses Church history and testimonies of early Saints to bear witness of God’s love and the power of the temple

Elder James W. McConkie III, General Authority Seventy, speaks at a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Madeline Jex, BYU–Idaho, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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By Kaitlyn Bancroft, Church News

Speaking to BYU–Idaho students during a devotional on Tuesday, June 4, Elder James W. McConkie III, General Authority Seventy, asked students to join him in accepting President Russell M. Nelson’s recent invitation to study the Kirtland Temple’s dedicatory prayer.

President Nelson’s invitation, given during April 2024 general conference, is one of “unusual significance,” Elder McConkie said. “It is a prophetic invitation intended to help us better understand the true nature of God, our relationship to Him, the power of our covenants with Him and the ways in which we can connect more powerfully with Heaven in the temple.”

Elder McConkie used Church history and the testimonies of early Latter-day Saints to bear witness of God’s love and the power of the temple.

“Go to the place where heaven and earth overlap, where God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, can be more present in your lives,” Elder McConkie said. “Go to the temple, go to the temple, go to the temple.”

The Kirtland Temple

The Kirtland Temple dedicatory prayer, given by the Prophet Joseph Smith on March 27, 1836, is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 109.

In this “remarkable” prayer, Elder McConkie said he sees, hears and feels a God who keeps covenants, remembers His people, sees their sacrifices, honors their faith, offers them His blessings and protection, fills them with joy and answers their prayers.

In short, “I see and hear and feel a God of love,” Elder McConkie said.

He gave students an overview of Church history at the time of the Kirtland Temple’s dedication, detailing revelations received prior to the temple’s construction. He also emphasized the many sacrifices made by early Latter-day Saints to build the temple, such as those who gave hours of labor in exchange for only some cornmeal, or those who used all the wool they owned to make clothes for those working on the construction site.

The day of the temple’s dedication saw a “pentecostal” outpouring of the Spirit, meaning it was the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that His followers would receive power, Elder McConkie said. This spiritual power prepared the early Saints for the many challenges that were yet to come.

While limited space meant that not everyone who wanted to attend the dedication within the temple could do so — some listened at open windows, while others met at the nearby schoolhouse — Elder McConkie said it’s important to note that “the outpouring of the Spirit at this time in Kirtland was universal. It was enjoyed by all those who came spiritually prepared to the dedication.”

Today, dedicatory temple prayers are patterned after the one given in Kirtland in 1836, Elder McConkie said.

He said he hopes that by understanding what preceded the Kirtland Temple’s dedication and some of the pentecostal outpouring that followed it, “we can then, together, read the text of the dedicatory prayer as if we were there and feel for ourselves, in this building and at this time, the powerful blessings intended for those who make ... time for all that can happen in the house of the Lord.”

Sister Laurel McConkie speaks at a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Malia Vick, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Honest Prayer

Elder McConkie was joined at the devotional by his wife, Sister Laurel McConkie, who spoke on the importance of private, honest prayer.

Sister McConkie said she wouldn’t know her husband very well if she spoke to him only at markets, parties or while beside him at a pulpit with an audience listening. Similarly, speaking to God only while in public doesn’t create a real relationship with Him.

She shared how two of her sons, despite very different personalities, cultivated a genuine friendship over years of talking together before bed. Later, they played on the same high school basketball team, though the older son got lots of playing time while the younger son was usually benched.

But thanks to the true bond they shared, when the older son made a “beautiful” shot during an important game, the younger son proudly shouted to the cheering crowd, “That’s my brother!”

“When I watch the video of that moment, I get teary because that is exactly how I feel as a follower of Jesus Christ,” Sister McConkie said, adding, “I belong to Him. You belong to Him.”

She continued that when individuals practice private, vulnerable prayer, they learn to connect with and rely on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

“I am here to invite you, in your grief, and in your celebration, and in everything in between, to continually draw close to heaven through sacred, honest prayer,” Sister McConkie said.

BYU–Idaho students listen during a devotional given by Elder James W. McConkie III, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Laurel McConkie, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Malia Vick, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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