Through the prophet Isaiah, God made the following promise to all those who reverence sacred things: “Them I will bring unto my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7).
Years later, the prophet Jeremiah stood at the doorway to the temple and denounced the wickedness of the people, who believed that the temple would save them from captivity even though their lives were unholy. Speaking on behalf of the Lord, he asked, “Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?” (Jeremiah 7:11).
Soon after entering Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus went to the temple and “cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple.” He explained His actions by quoting these two passages from Isaiah and Jeremiah:
It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.Matthew 21:13 (See also Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46.)
When Nephi led his people to safety, an important part of the city they built was a temple (2 Nephi 5:16). His brother Jacob delivered a difficult and important message to his people at that temple (Jacob 1:17). Later, King Benjamin gathered his people at a different temple, in the land of Zarahemla, to turn their hearts toward Jesus Christ (Mosiah 2:1). And when the Savior visited the American continent, He came to a group of people who were gathered at the temple in the land of Bountiful (3 Nephi 11:1).
In our day, the Lord has commanded us to build sacred places where He can visit us:
Inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.Doctrine and Covenants 97:15-16
Over the last year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us have not been able to visit a temple at all. But as Elder David A. Bednar has reminded us recently, the real goal of creating sacred spaces is to help us become more holy:
Perhaps for a little longer we cannot be physically in the temple, but is the temple in us? Are the covenants and ordinances in us? I think we have been compelled to reflect on, remember, and cherish temple covenants and ordinances in ways we may not have otherwise appreciated.“Elder Bednar: ‘Is the Temple in Us’ During COVID-19 Pandemic?” newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org, 10 February 2021
Today, I will remember the importance of sacred places. I will strive to make my own home “a house of prayer” by clearing my schedule and my environment from things which would distract me from my highest priorities.