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How to fill your oil lamp and not be one of the five foolish virgins



To understand the significance of the story of the ten virgins, we need to understand why these women were waiting late into the night.

The bridegroom came at the darkest hour, when least expected.

Bridegroom Procession

To understand the significance of the story of the ten virgins, we need to understand why these women were waiting late into the night.  Elder Lynn G. Robbins explained more about the wedding customs so that we may more fully apply this story to ourselves.

He wrote, “In biblical times the destination of those who 'went forth to meet the bridegroom' was the bridegroom’s home. Under the heading 'Marriage” in the Bible Dictionary, we read: 'On the marriage day, the bride was escorted to her [bridegroom’s] home by a procession consisting of her own companions and the ‘friends of the bridegroom,’ or ‘children of the bride-chamber.’ … When she reached the house… a marriage deed was signed. After the prescribed washing of hands and benediction, the marriage supper was held” (728–29).” 1

No Texting or Tweeting

The marriage supper was the celebration with friends and families as a new family was started. Each guest was expected to be prepared and waiting for the moment in which the procession passed by them so that they could join their friends in the festivities. They didn’t have texting, Facebook or Twitter back then, so they couldn’t send out a message like “Everybody be ready at 8 tonight! This marriage supper is going to be the bomb!” or “Hey girls, just around the hill. Hope you have extra oil! LOL” No texts, no phones, they had to be ready.


Sometimes I feel like I become one of the foolish five when I have had too many diapers to change, too many dishes to wash, toilets to scrub, laundry to fold and meals to cook. The day gets away from me when I focus on all the busy things I have to do to complete my list of tasks for the day. Usually, I see that praying, pondering, searching scriptures and other essential tasks have not made it out with a check next to them.

I love the Lord, I love the gospel and yet, if I am not diligent about doing those things that feed my soul, and provide strength to my spirit, I will be left out when the time comes for me to be called up to get to work. Without my spiritual oil reserve, I could miss an important truth, a prompting regarding someone who needs my help, an answer or I could fail to have faith in my mission or calling.

We need to be worthy of receiving the inspiration of the Holy Ghost at all times. He connects us to heaven if we choose to plug in. We do that through daily communion with our God, through those simple effective little things we refer to as “primary answers”.

Darkest Hour

President James E. Faust said, “The bridegroom came at the darkest hour, when least expected. It was midnight, and the foolish five had run out of oil. You might wonder why the five wise virgins could not share their oil with the other five. It was not selfishness on their part. Spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant because we each fill our lamps drop by drop in our daily living.” 2 

President Spencer W. Kimball once gave examples of other kinds of oils that prepared us for the coming of the Bridegroom. 

“There are oils that keep the gospel burning brightly. One type of oil is the oil of family prayer. One drop or two will not keep the lamp burning long… Another type of oil is the oil of fasting. The last midnight is late to start disciplining our lives in preparation for the great day of the Lord … Another oil that is not available at midnight is the indispensable oil of home service. This rare oil of service is accumulated through visits to the sick, through lending a helping hand… There is another oil that all will need—rich or poor, sick or well…This is the tithing oil..


“There is one … oil that is so precious that without adding it to the other oils no wick will burn. Without it, the light from all the others will dim and go out. This is the oil of chastity.” 3

May we always be found with our lamps full and ready so that we are prepared to meet whatever challenges arise as we wait for our Savior in the grand and glorious day of His return.

1. “Oil in Our Lamps”, Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy, Ensign, June 2007

2. “Your Light- A Standard to All Nations”, President James E. Faust, April 2006 General Conference

3. “Gospel’s Rare Oils Difficult to Obtain ‘at Midnight,’” Church News, May 13, 1995, 14.

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