How Do I Prepare for Mormon Baptism?
The fourth Article of Faith says:
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
This teaches us the basic steps we must follow in making Jesus Christ’s sacrifice active in our life. Mormons believe that baptism represents the gate to Eternal Life and these four steps represent the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
First, search your heart in personal study and prayer so that you will be sure you have faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is more than believing Jesus exists, it means believing Him when He says that you will be forgiven of your sins and saved in His Kingdom. Another Book of Mormon prophet, also named Alma, taught us how to develop faith (see Alma 32:18-43, pgs 289-291). We begin by being humble and teachable. If we are arrogant, the Spirit of God cannot work within us. Second, we desire to believe. Alma compares this to planting a seed and watering it. We plant the seed by desiring to believe in Jesus Christ and in the Book of Mormon, which teaches of Him. We nurture the seed through prayer, scripture study, service to others, and keeping the commandments. As we do this, the Holy Sprit will enter our hearts and we will know that what we are studying and doing is true. Mormons often refer to this as a testimony. If we do not experiment with our faith by keeping the commandments, praying, and attending church, the Spirit will not tell us whether the scriptures are true.
Once we begin to develop faith in Jesus Christ, we will realize that many things in our life might be out of harmony with His teachings. This leads us to repentance. Repentance is a wonderful gift from a loving Father in Heaven. Through repentance we can overcome weaknesses and move beyond mistakes we have made in the past.
To repent we must acknowledge our mistakes and weaknesses. We must take responsibility for our own actions and recognize that what we have done has hurt others and offended God. Second, we must forsake the sin. This means we must stop doing it and never return to it again. We must, if possible, make restitution. This means that if we stole something, we should return it or pay the person for what we took. If we lied or hurt someone’s feelings, we must apologize. Restitution is not always possible, but we must always apologize and ask for forgiveness from those we offended or hurt. God is able to heal all wounds and when we trust in Him, we can be forgiven. Finally, we must ask for forgiveness from God through prayer. If the sin is very serious, like sexual activity outside of marriage, we should also talk to our bishop to receive counseling and advice from him. God has commanded us to confess our serious sins to the bishop as part of our repentance.
When we have done this, we have this promise from God:
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins–behold, he will confess them and forsake them (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42-43, pg 106).
When we have sincerely repented, we have God’s promise, and God cannot lie, that we are forgiven. To become clean from all our sins and become a new creature in Christ, we must follow repentance with baptism. However, as everyone continues to make mistakes, we must repent throughout our lives and continually turn towards God for strength and forgiveness. Through the sacrament, which Mormons partake of every Sunday, we renew the covenants made at baptism and thus renew the cleansing of the Holy Spirit.
Once you have begun to develop faith in Jesus Christ and have repented of your sins, you are prepared to be baptized. At baptism you will commit to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of your life and to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon Church is officially known.
Baptismal services in the Mormon Church can be held on any day, but are typically held either Saturday night, especially when eight-year-old children are being baptized, or on Sunday. Your baptismal service will likely be on Sunday. You can plan the service with the missionaries and invite whomever you wish. This will be a great time to share the message of the Gospel with friends and family. The Spirit of God is powerful at baptismal services, so you should invite family members and friends to attend and share this important step in your life with them. Many who might not accept an invitation to church or to meet with missionaries will come to your baptism, since it is something personal for you. Plan ahead and invite as many people as you like.
You can select any worthy priesthood holder to baptize you. Many new members like to have one of the missionaries baptize them, or a friend from Church who holds the priesthood. The missionaries can help you pick someone who is eligible. Priesthood, or God’s authority to act in His name, is essential to perform ordinances like baptism. Without it, the ordinance is not valid. You also need to choose two witnesses, who also hold the priesthood, to certify that the ordinance is done properly.
The baptismal service itself is simple and brief. There will be prayers and singing. You can either ask some of your new friends in the Church to pray, or let the missionaries choose. Many people like to have the congregation sing their favorite hymn. You can also select someone to share a short message about the importance of baptism and the gospel of Jesus Christ. After this you will change into white clothes to symbolize purity and innocence and enter the baptismal font.
The baptism will begin when you and the person who will baptize you enter the font. He will hold your arms with his left hand and hold his right arm up while he says the baptismal prayer. The prayer is the same for everyone who gets baptized. You and he will close your eyes as he says:
Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, amen.
He will then assist you as you lower yourself under the water. You can use your hands to plug your nose. Because baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior, you must go completely under the water. If you do not, the baptism will be repeated. After you come out of the water, you can change back into your regular clothes.
John the Baptist said,
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matthew 3:11).
After baptism by water, we must be baptized by the Holy Ghost. Modern prophets have taught us that this second baptism is an essential part of being baptized and entering a covenant with Jesus. It is through this baptism of the Holy Ghost that you will be cleansed of your sins. In the Mormon Church, this ordinance is called confirmation and it typically occurs in the Sunday services in the week following your baptism or “at the water’s edge.” This entails confirmation right after the baptism.
You must select someone to confirm you, and he must hold the Melchizedek priesthood. In confirmation, also called the laying on of hands, a priesthood holder will lay his hands upon your head and bless you. This blessing is similar to a prayer. He will call you by name and through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, he will confirm you a member of the Mormon Church and give the gift of the Holy Ghost, which means the right to have the Holy Spirit with you as a constant companion. Finally, he will pronounce blessings and promises as the Spirit inspires him and will close in the name of Jesus Christ. Once this is done, you are a member of Christ’s Church here on earth.