This binding process in religion has often been achieved through secret as well as public rites. Latter-day Saints scholar Hugh Nibley has devoted much research to ancient ordinances that were “hidden from the world” and were intended to be experienced in sacred seclusion. The importance of such study lies in the fact that within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are certain nonpublic ordinances that Mormon leaders have repeatedly affirmed are divine restorations of ancient ordinances of God. LDS prophets have identified these as “temple ordinances,” known as washing, anointing, endowment, sealing, and second anointing. Like other temple practices, the existence of a special “prayer circle” ceremony has been referred to in official publications of the LDS Church.
Historical parallels to these rights are the strength of the firm LDS position that Mormonism is not a new creation but instead in its most essential features is a restoration of those sacred doctrines and practices revealed by God to man from the beginning. In Mormonism the reception of divine revelation is an active, responsive process, rather than a passive operation. If Joseph Smith had any knowledge of these earlier practices of prayer, then that partial understanding served as an incentive for him to seek divine and more complete instruction.