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Hello Gramps,

I love your site and the information you have shared here. I am currently serving as a service missionary in Hawaii, and I have been praying to better know Heavenly Father and the Savior. What advice do you have for us to know more about who Heavenly Father is and my relationship with Him?





Dear Jared,

Thank you for serving the Lord as a missionary. I’m so grateful to you and all who choose to dedicate a portion of their lives to Him.  Your question is an interesting one.  As I pondered how to respond two thoughts have come to mind: first, it seems that the details may be unique to every person, and second, that it isn’t so different from how we get to know each other.  Since I can’t expound on the first for you, let’s talk about the second.

One of the ways we get to know each other is by talking. We may start out cautiously, sharing superficial information about ourselves, but over time, we share and trust more of ourselves, and learn more of the other person.  Of course, I’m talking about prayer.  Talking with God, and telling Him what’s on your mind, even though you know He already knows what’s on your mind, can help you to form a relationship with Him by getting comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with Him.

The last time I read 1 Nephi 11-14 (Nephi’s vision of the tree of life and more), I noticed some things that can be helpful to us as we pray.  In the beginning, the Spirit and then the angel repeatedly say to Nephi, “Look!” and Nephi immediately looks and sees something significant.  Among other things, this can teach us that the Lord is always drawing our attention to what’s important, but we need to be listening and we need to obey the promptings we receive.

The next thing I noticed is that in the beginning, they ask Nephi what he sees.  Now obviously, the Spirit (and later the angel) knows full well what Nephi saw, yet they ask.  Why?  I think one reason is to give Nephi time to process it, to think about it, to puzzle it out, and to gain some understanding before learning more.  Likewise, in prayer, though it may seem strange to talk to God about things He already knows, we do it for ourselves.  Essentially, we’re processing and getting our thoughts out of our heads so that our minds are clear to then receive God’s response. Later in the vision, the angel stops asking Nephi what he sees and just tells him the interpretation or meaning.  I believe that at this point Nephi was fully “on the same page” as the angel (or God) and prepared to receive freely.  Similarly, I believe each of us is ready to receive revelation in some ways (ways we’re in harmony with God) and not in others (areas we need to work on).

I encourage you to study Nephi’s experience, or other experiences, and look for ways you can improve your prayers to better connect with our Heavenly Father.

The next way we get to know other people is by doing things together.  Their things, our things, things we have in common.  If we translate this to our relationship with our Savior, we need to be doing the things He wants us to do, and things that don’t drive the Spirit away.  As we obey His commands, follow the promptings of the Spirit, learn what He did, and then do it, we will come to know Him, both through His presence and by following His example.  Scripture study will be crucial here in learning what our Savior did and what He asked us to do.  But it can’t stop there.  As we learn what the Savior wants us to do, we need to look specifically for opportunities to do them. (See John 5:19-20.)

Scripture study will also help us learn to recognize God’s voice (it can often be God’s side of the conversation), and learn His attributes – so we know what sort of person He is.  This should inspire faith, love, and a desire to follow Christ.

Unique to getting to know our Heavenly Father and Savior are the gifts of the Holy Ghost, our covenants, and the teachings of the Church. The Spirit is one with Them and bears testimony of Them.  Thus, even the promptings we receive can help us get to know Them.  Our covenants establish a connection that we should seek to understand and use. Spend time pondering what each covenant tells you about God and Jesus Christ.  The teachings of the Church help us to learn about Them. The simple truths of the gospel reveal things about the character, personality, and values of He who revealed those truths.  Time spent pondering what a given truth tells you about God or the Savior will help you come to know Them.  Starting your day with the conscious intent of walking with Christ, and then time reflecting on spiritual experiences will help you recognize God’s hand in your life.

Finally on that subject, remember what Christ said to Simon Peter – knowing Christ is something we receive by revelation (see Matthew 16:15-17, also Matthew 11:27 with footnote c). In your prayers, your actions, your study, and your pondering – seek revelation to know Christ.  Seek also to become worthy of this gift. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ taught:

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

As you formulate and modify your plans to get to know Them, remember that They are one.  I love what Jesus had to say to Philip when Philip wanted the Lord to show them the Father (John 14:8-14):

…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;…

What you learn of one, you learn of the other.

My final suggestion is to consider following, or repeating, the counsel of President Russell M. Nelson (from when he was President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).  In April 2017 General Conference, in his talk “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives“, President Nelson mentioned a challenge he had given to young adults to “study everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the standard works.”  He then said:

I gave that challenge because I had already accepted it myself. I read and underlined every verse cited about Jesus Christ, as listed under the main heading and the 57 subtitles in the Topical Guide. When I finished that exciting exercise, my wife asked me what impact it had on me. I told her, “I am a different man!”

If it can change him, it can change any of us, if we do it with a sincere heart.  If you can dedicate a portion of your time to this study, and not just read, but consider, pray about, and try to emulate what you learn, I believe you will come to better know God and Christ, and come away with a much stronger relationship with Them.

I don’t know if you noticed it, but there was a recurring theme in those thoughts: time.  To know the Lord, spend time with Him: in prayer, scripture study, and doing the things He would have you do.  The more time you spend, the better you’ll get to know Him, and through Him, the Father.  I hope, Jared, that all of us will find ways to spend more time with our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and the Holy Ghost, and thereby bless both ourselves and others.






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