Written by Wendy Ulrich
I recently read Aloha: Lana’i, by Cameron Taylor, a gentle story of a young LDS missionary in Hawaii learning from a local church member about traditional Hawaiian religious customs and beliefs. These included approaching the ancient holy places or temples with reverence and in silence, removing shoes, and pausing at the entrance to pray for permission to enter. That permission would come as a quiet internal sense of welcome or worthiness. If permission was not felt, worshippers prayed to know what was missing or what needed correction in their lives before they entered the holy place. Then when leaving the temple after making their petitions and offerings there – and the most valued offerings were covenants of renewed devotion – worshippers paused again to breathe life into their prayers. In fact, a derogatory word for white people in Hawaiian came from a word meaning “without breath,” describing people who didn’t pause to breathe after they prayed.
I recognize in my temple recommend the idea of “having permission” before entering the House of the Lord, but I love the reminder that I can obtain that sense of permission directly from God if I pause to ask for it. He can gently guide me to see what is amiss in my life that needs correction, allowing the atonement and grace of Jesus Christ to further cleanse and strengthen me. These ideas deepen my sense of worship and reverence as I serve in the temple. I want to remember to pause as I complete my temple service, reflect on the covenants I have made, and “breathe life” into my prayers and priestly petitions.
I hit the snooze button one too many times this morning when my alarm went off, and my time for prayer was truncated as a result. But as I said, “amen,” I thought to pause, to breathe, to listen, to focus on my intentions and desires for the day. It felt sweet to remember that even in my simplest prayers, the God who creates and rules the universe has breathed life into me, His daughter. He is always ready to hear me, especially as I pause to feel His welcome, seek His correction, and breathe in His love.