" … your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask
him." (Matthew 6:8).
This essay is directed to those who have taken out endowments in the LDS temples and are searching for meaning of the different orders of prayer and what it means to pray in the true order. Please do not be afraid to read these words and consider them. There are many who think that discussing the endowment is prohibited and this is one of the reasons that many walk in darkness. However, when one looks carefully, it is found that Jesus taught the true order of prayer in the sermon on the mount and several other places recorded in scripture. The purpose of this essay is not to make light of sacred things taught in the endowment, but to assist others to begin to comprehend the deeper meanings of the gospel and to come personally unto Christ and be free.
The author of this essay does not claim to be anyone special, nor is there a claim that the material in this essay contains the entire truth or the deepest meaning. The material presented here is only meant to be taken as food for thought. It is hoped that these words will stimulate one to ask deeper questions and to search further by asking of God. The greatest truth is meant to be discovered.
Many levels of understanding and the purpose of the endowment. Prior to fully understanding what it means to pray in the true order, one needs to have a fundamental understanding of the purpose of the endowment. Those who have taken endowments know that the ceremony is presented as a play that is acted out. However, most fail to grasp the meaning of who the players are and how they relate to them as an individual being. Just as there are many levels to understanding of scriptural passages, there are many levels of understanding of the endowment story.
Generally, there are three major levels of understanding which are ultimately realized. At the lower level, one applies the meaning of the endowment to the world around him (or her). In the next level, one applies it to his or her church or family. At the higher level, it is applied to you, yourself. Thus, at the lower level, one might view the story of the creation and Adam and Eve in a historical perspective – but sees the story as apart from oneself. At the next level, a husband might see himself as Adam and his wife as Eve and that these events are about him and his own life and that of his family. At the higher level, one realizes that Adam and Eve are represented in oneself and that the story is all about ones own individual sojourn in life. At this level, one realizes that Adam represents the spirit and Eve represents the physical body. This is why Eve is placed under subjugation to Adam – it is because the body is meant to be subject to the guidance of the spirit. Eloheim, Jehovah, the preacher (the preacher is a character in the pre-1990 endowment), Peter, James, and John, and other characters in the creation parable can be considered to be represented in each individual in a way that is meant to tell you about yourself, how you are acting, and what you should be.
Thus, when receiving the endowment, you might consider that you are taking part in a play that is designed to teach you about yourself. It is important to have a basic comprehension of this concept before the deepest meanings behind what is taught in the endowment can be realized.
Many mysteries – the importance of personal revelation. The endowment story teaches many mysteries, many of which are only such because so few understand the simple concepts that are taught. However, after some of these so-called mysteries are understood, one might wonder how they were missed in the first place. It is not the purpose of this essay to give a thorough discussion on the entire endowment, nor is the purpose to discuss the true order of prayer in detail. Rather, the purpose is to discuss enough of the symbolism to realize that there are many hidden teachings to be learned in the endowment and to encourage one to search on a personal level for the deeper meanings. Only the portions of the endowment that help in uncovering some of the fundamental meanings behind the true order of prayer will be discussed.
One of the mysteries of the endowment is in regard to what one must do to re-enter the presence of God. The answer is lost on most, but is stated quite clearly in words used when one passes through the veil. When Adam (or Eve) arrives at the veil, a person representing the Savior stands on the other side and a series of tests are given. These represent the tests we are given at the present time in each of our individual lives. However, it is important to notice that none of the answers to the tests are successful at allowing Adam to pass through the veil, except one. Prior to passing through the veil, an attending worker replies to the Lord with the words: "Adam, HAVING CONVERSED WITH THE LORD THROUGH THE VEIL, now desires to enter His presence." (capitals added for emphasis). Thus, it is "having conversed with the Lord through the veil", or PERSONAL REVELATION, that is a prerequisite to passing through the veil. In the conversation with the Lord through the veil, this is represented by the name of the second token of the Melchizekek priesthood. It is only AFTER repeating this name (given by revelation through the veil) back to the Lord that the Lord replies with "That is right" and the testing process ends. It is only after this occurs that Adam is allowed to pass through the veil and enter the Lord’s presence.
Orders of prayer. The process of receiving personal revelation is alluded to at many places in the endowment, but most importantly with Peter teaching Adam the true order of prayer. Inasmuch as there is a true order of prayer, there must also be false orders as well as lesser orders of prayer. It is important to realize that Adam is not taught the true order of prayer until immediately prior to being presented at the veil.
Most remember that Adam built an altar when he was cast out of the garden, on which he offered up a prayer, saying "Oh God, hear the WORDS OF MY MOUTH." The wording here clearly indicates that this is a vocal prayer because it is uttered with the mouth. This is as opposed to a silent prayer of the spirit, that is uttered from the altar of the heart.
In the endowment story, after Adam offers up the (vocal) prayer at the altar, Lucifer shows up immediately and replies "I HEAR YOU. What is it you want?" He (Lucifer) then proceeds to give Adam a counterfeit of what he perceives that Adam wants.
One thing that is important to realize in this exchange is that Lucifer is able to hear the prayer that is uttered with the mouth (vocal prayer). Moreover, it is important to realize that Adam has not yet been taught the true order of prayer, and thus, his prayer must not be after the true order.
The mind of God. Before proceeding further in this discussion, it may be necessary to take a look at certain passages of scripture that indicate that the Father is able to hear a silent prayer of the heart, but Lucifer cannot. Recorded in the scriptures are the words of the Lord to Joseph Smith: "Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is NONE ELSE SAVE GOD THAT KNOWEST THY THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THY HEART." (D&C 6:16)
In order to understand the meaning behind much of the endowment, as well as many passages of scripture, one must comprehend that mortal (and spiritual) man comprises a trinity of being. Sometimes the scriptures use the words "body, mind, and spirit." In this case, the body is the physical body, the spirit is the spirit that resides in the body, and the mind is that part of us that is God. Sometimes in the endowment Adam represents the physical body, Jehovah the spirit, and Eloheim the mind of God. Other times, Eve represents the physical body, Adam the spirit, and the Jehovah the mind. It is important to realize that this concept of a trinity of being is repeated throughout the endowment and throughout the scriptures.
This part of us that is referred to as the mind of God may be seen as the deepest part of our souls that must be approached to hear the voice of God. This is why Jesus said "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU." (Luke 17:20-21). This is what was meant when Jesus said "I am IN THE FATHER, and the Father IN ME, and the Father and I are one." (3Nephi 11:27) Jesus was able to reach deep down inside himself and contact that part of him which is needed to make himself a WHOLE (or holy) BEING (trinity). This is also where one first hears the (still small) voice of God. Unfortunately, very few realize that God is a part of them, although the scriptures affirm it repeatedly. This part of every man is frequently referred to as the "light of Christ" and is so often ignored by men that the Lord comments that He (God) is "The light shineth in darkness (in men), and the darkness (men) comprehendeth it not (don’t realize it); nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him. Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is IN YOU, and that you are IN ME; otherwise ye could not abound." (D&C 88:49-50)
When man unites his spirit and body with that of God, then he becomes whole (holy being). He then becomes OF ONE MIND (cf. 2Corinthians 13:11) and HIS MIND IS SINGLE (cf. D&C 88:68). He then loves God with ALL HIS MIND and strength (the greatest commandment; Mark 12:30).
With this understanding, let us look at a passage of scripture regarding Satan, who "… sought also to beguile Eve, for HE KNEW NOT THE MIND OF GOD, wherefore he sought to destroy the world." (Moses 4:6) Satan, a carnal being who externalizes everything, is neither a whole (holy) being nor a trinity as is God. Inasmuch as he is not able to "know the mind of God", he is not able to read the thoughts and intents of your heart, as can the Father (D&C 6:16). This is also a state of being occupied by fallen man, who knows not the God that dwells in him, nor is willing to hear the still small voice, as mentioned of the children of Adam who "loved Satan (carnal, external things) more than God (spiritual, inner things)(Moses 5:13) and "… they would not hearken unto his (God’s) voice,(that is in them)" (Moses 5:57)
Vocal and silent prayers. Many realize that the Lord commands us to "… pray vocally as well as in thy heart; yea, before the world as well as in secret, in public as well as in private." (D&C 19:28) Again, there are many orders of prayer as well as the "true order of prayer." Moreover, Adam uses a vocal prayer prior to being taught the true order of prayer, and Lucifer hears it and shows up to tempt Adam. This should not be taken to mean that vocal prayer is a false order of prayer or that the Father cannot hear one that is spoken vocally. But, what is the reason for vocal prayers? A careful reading of the scriptures (such as the one above) indicate that we are to pray publicly and that these prayers are to be uttered vocally. But, what of private prayers? Should these be uttered vocally? The author of this essay is troubled by a recent teaching by church leaders that all prayers, even private ones, ought to be uttered vocally (as if God cannot hear a prayer of the heart). This teaching does not come from God, but from Lucifer, and it is in direct conflict with what is said in the scriptures (cf. D&C 19:28; 20:47; 20:51; 23:6),
The reasons for praying privately go much further than the advantage that Satan cannot hear a prayer from the heart. Vocal prayers are uttered in the language of the spoken word and are limited in conveying the true intent of the heart. Language is a method of using symbols (words) to convey what one wishes to communicate. Moreover, the effective use of language as communication is dependent on the speaker and hearer agreeing on the meaning of the words (symbols). A higher form of communication is by pure thought or pure feeling. This form of prayer is one that "cannot be spoken" because the proper words to express the feelings cannot be found.
The true order of prayer. With the above concepts in mind, let us take a look at the symbolism in the true order of prayer as taught to Adam. As is usual, carnal man will make the mistake of focusing on the outer form of the prayer, but will largely ignore the symbolism or the deeper meanings. Many notice that the outer form is a vocal prayer and is very similar to the form of prayer uttered by groups that worship Lucifer. However, as in the parables taught by Jesus, there is a much deeper meaning that will be noticed by spiritual man, but largely lost on carnal man.
In the true order of prayer, Adam and Eve form a circle around the altar. This circle is symbolic of at least two things. One is that it represents wholeness (holyness). Another is that the circle represents a closing off of the outside world, so that the prayer can be uttered IN SECRET. In this case, Adam and Eve represent the physical body and the altar represents the holy place that is the heart, for true prayers are uttered from the heart. Peter represents the spirit which utters the prayer from the altar of the heart. The prayer is repeated by those in the circle, symbolizing that the body is one with the spirit in praying in the true order.
There is a reason that the signs and tokens are acted out PRIOR TO the prayer being uttered (as well as prior to crossing the veil). Adam now sees himself as HE IS and these are to remind Adam of his path taken in life. The entire endowment is about you. The temple (building) represents your (physical) body ("Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" -- 1 Corintians 3:16) and all things in the endowment are about what happens inside you. The signs and tokens are representative of the your sojourn throughout life and your relationship with God. Adam reminds himself of this by acting out the tokens and signs prior to saying the true prayer (or crossing the veil). By this time, Adam is no longer a pretender who honors the Lord with his voice (lips), but whose heart is far from Him.
To comprehend what is meant in the previous paragraph, it is important to understand what is represented by the signs and tokens that Adam is given. This essay will not discuss the symbolism behind the tokens, their names, signs, and penalties (penalties are a part of the earlier endowment) because it is not the purpose to do this. The reader is asked to ponder and pray on these things to receive a full understanding from God.
The true order taught by Jesus and at the veil. When the Savior came in the meridian of time, he taught a variety of higher concepts to the people and many of these are recorded in the sermon on the mount. Regarding the order of prayer, Jesus said "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast SHUT THY DOOR, pray to thy Father which is IN SECRET; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." (Matthew 6:6) A careful study of this scripture reveals that this is, in essence, the true order of prayer. It is a prayer that is uttered from the heart, in secret, to a loving Father who hears in secret.
Moreover, there is an important event that occurs at the veil with regard to Adam and the true order of prayer, notwithstanding it is not evident in the current (altered) endowment. Prior to 1990, the ceremony at the veil included Adam receiving the name of the second token of the Melchizekek priesthood through the five points of fellowship, which are "inside of right foot by side of right foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand to back, and mouth to ear." Having been taught the true order of prayer, Adam now uses the true order to speak with the Lord through the veil to receive the name of this token.
One should notice that Adam does not use the five points of fellowship to speak to the Lord through the veil until he is ready to receive the name of the second token of the Melchizekek priesthood, which up until now, he had not yet received. That is, the testing of Adam’s knowledge (comprehension) regarding the tokens and their names prior to this, is not done on the five points of fellowship. This represents Adam speaking to the Lord through the veil using another order of prayer, but not the true order.
In receiving the name of the second token of the Melchizekek priesthood, the five points of fellowship represent the oneness that Adam now holds with the Lord. He is now one with him, just as Jesus is one with the Father, or is said to be a whole (holy) being. Adam then receives the revelation by speaking to the Lord through the veil which revelation allows him (Adam) to cross the veil. The Lord and Adam speak to each other MOUTH TO EAR, which is whispering that is representative of the still small voice. This represents a prayer that is uttered in secret, or to the mind of God that resides within oneself. In a sense, there is a veil over the mind that separates us from God. By uttering a prayer from the heart, the veil is pierced and man becomes one with God.
Summary and closing comments. The endowment ceremony is meant to be instruction to each of us individually concerning our sojourn through life, our relationship to God, and what we must be to again enter His presence. Unfortunately, many who pass through this instruction are still at the level of being that is represented by the first token of the Aaronic priesthood. In order to become more like God, many must begin to wake up to the teachings hidden in the endowment ceremony and begin to apply these teachings to themselves.
Carnal man is forever externalizing all things and believes that merely acting out the ceremony of the endowment is what brings him to God. However, this is great hypocrisy, because these are then forever honoring the Lord with their lips, but whose heart (the altar in the true order of prayer) is far from him. Such externalizing has many dangers, including placing oneself in the realm of the "God of this world" (Lucifer).
Spiritual man realizes that the endowment is all about himself and what he must BE. He realizes his folly of being a hypocrite and approaches the Lord in deep humility in the true order of prayer. Sacrificed on the altar is his broken heart and contrite spirit. He prays the words that cannot be spoken or written because they are uttered with pure thoughts and feelings by the spirit that kneels at the altar of the heart. Satan, who knows not the mind of God is unable to hear such a prayer, notwithstanding Satan is good at reading countenances. But, God is able to hear such a prayer and therefore " … knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." (Matthew 6:8).
In praying in the true order, the (physical) body is one with the heart (spirit) and God (the mind of God) hears the prayer. A person praying in the true order becomes one with God and a whole (holy) being. Thus, arriving at this point Adam (who is you) now comprehends one of the most important teachings of the endowment and is able to pierce the veil and become one with God.