How are we to make contact with Jesus and have a personal relationship? I’m not sure of the etiquette here. When Jesus was leaving the earth he said pray to the Father in my name and the Holy Ghost would speak the words of the Father to us. So I have always felt I was not to pray to Jesus. So what is the way? How do we have a personal relationship with him? I asked this in Sunday School and got nothing.
Thank you so much for a question that I believe all of us should be asking every day. Have you ever wondered what a “personal relationship with the Savior” means? What would it look like? Is the reality what we think it is? Let’s start at the beginning and find out.
Joseph Smith told us in his “Lectures on Faith” that it is the first principle of the Gospel to know the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another. And to acquire faith unto salvation one needs a correct idea of God’s character, perfections, and attributes.
In fact, true and saving worship is found only among those who know the truth about God and the Godhead and who understand the true relationship men should have with each member of that Eternal Presidency. (McConkie, Our Relationship with the Lord)
Remember that we worship all three members of the Godhead as a unit. Therefore, we do not develop a personal relationship with Jesus alone. If we single out one member of the Godhead, to the exclusion of the others, then spiritual instability will begin. We must instead treat all three as one for the purposes of our worship. They are the Godhead. They are one in purpose, power, love, and attributes. They are truly united in their goal to bring about the immortality and Eternal Life of man.
As we recognize this, it becomes clear that when we worship the Father, we are worshiping the Son and the Holy Ghost as well. Nevertheless, we are commanded to pray only unto the Father — in the name of Christ — and utter such prayers by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus all three are included in our worship. So let’s revise the question to:
How can I relate to the Lord in such a way that is more than a vague notion or feeling and have a real, meaningful communion?
The answer is not a single act or set of acts, but a continuing cycle repeated throughout our lives gaining a better understanding of the Lord’s attributes, emulating those attributes, and seeking out His Spirit. Elder James E. Faust, in the Oct. 1976 General Conference gave some helpful tips in walking through this process.
First: Daily communion involving prayer. The Bible Dictionary describes prayer as “the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other.” As we recognize that He is our Father and we are His children then it becomes easy to feel His closeness, knowledge, understanding, love, and compassion for each of us.
To truly pray “in the name of Christ” means that our will is the will of Christ, our mind the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ. And when His words abide in us, we utter our prayers by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus prayer truly becomes a communion.
Second: Daily selfless service to another. It is no secret that Christ’s life was entirely spent in the service of others. We must do likewise. “…I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt. 25:30-36.)
Third: Daily striving for an increased obedience and perfection in our lives. The Savior taught “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Ne 27:27) Just as the Savior was perfectly obedient to the Father, it should be obvious that to have a relationship with the Lord we must seek to obey His commandments. How can we be like Him if we do not strive to be perfectly obedient as He was?
Fourth: Daily acknowledgment of His divinity. To acknowledge the hand of God in our lives and His power over us is the gospel definition of humility. Humility is required to recognize the divine nature of our Savior and His mission on this earth. As we gain a testimony of His divinity and our lowliness before Him, we recognize our proper place as we develop a relationship with the Lord.
Fifth: Daily study of the scriptures. Pres. Kimball said: “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking…If I immerse myself in the scriptures, the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren).
None of these steps are things we can do perfectly the moment we’ve stepped onto the road of discipleship. They are steps we repeat throughout our lives. As we practice and perfect them, we hope to fulfill them as Christ did. We strive to recognize that we are indeed our Father’s children. We strive to pray with the will and mind of Christ. We strive to utter our prayers by the power of the Holy Ghost. We strive to serve as Christ served. We strive to obey as Christ obeyed. We strive to humble ourselves as Christ was humble. We strive to gain real enlightenment, inspiration, and intelligence from meaningful daily scripture study.
As we do so, we feel a closeness with the Father. We know what Jesus would pray for and how He would pray for them. And as we speak we feel a power that can only come from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This is what it means to have a personal relationship with the Lord.