In his dedicatory prayer for the ancient temple in Jerusalem, Solomon raised a series of hypothetical situations, asking God for specific blessings in each of them. Here is one of those situations:
When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house:
Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest unto their fathers.1 Kings 8:33-34
It’s a beautiful appeal for reconciliation when rifts occur in our relationship with God. Later in the prayer, Solomon acknowledges the inevitability of these rifts, “for there is no man that sinneth not” (1 Kings 8:46).
The blessing Solomon requested is the blessing God has always promised to those who turn away from their sins: forgiveness. To Alma, the Lord said, “As often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (Mosiah 26:30). And to a mourning group of people who had just endured a catastrophic tragedy because of their collective wickedness, the Savior made the same promise: “How oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart” (3 Nephi 10:6).
In the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith raised a similar hypothetical situation and asked for a similar blessing, but unlike Solomon, he framed the request in terms of the individual instead of the group:
When thy people transgress, any of them, they may speedily repent and return unto thee, and find favor in thy sight, and be restored to the blessings which thou hast ordained to be poured out upon those who shall reverence thee in thy house.Doctrine and Covenants 109:21, italics added
I love the inclusiveness in the phrase “any of them.” Joseph seems to be emphasizing that God’s love is not beyond anyone’s reach. No matter how far we fall short, no matter what mistakes we have made, the plea and the promise is that we can be restored and receive all of the blessings which God has promised to the faithful.
I also like the qualifier “speedily.” Why would any of us wallow in sin and deny ourselves the joy of reconciliation with God? It reminds me of President Russell M. Nelson’s encouragement for us to make repentance a continuous process: “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance…. Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day” (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April 2019).
Today, I will be grateful for repentance and forgiveness. I will remember that God’s promise to forgive repentant sinners is universal in scope, and that He will forgive as quickly as we repent.