I hear quite often that we should develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I find that very hard to do because I am praying to Our Father in Heaven and not Jesus Christ.
Thank you for taking a moment to ask this question, and for your patience for the time we have taken to provide an answer.
In 1982, Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles gave a landmark BYU devotional, Our Relationship with the Lord, in which he said:
“There are, in the Eternal Godhead, three persons—God the first, the Creator; God the second, the Redeemer; and God the third, the Testator. These three are one—one God if you will—in purposes, in powers, and in perfections. But each one has his own severable work to perform, and mankind has a defined and known and specific relationship to each one of them. It is of these relationships that we shall now speak.”
When I think upon our personal relationship with Christ I think the better term is a term Christ personally used himself — friend. One of our great opportunities in this life is to become a friend with our Redeemer, our Mediator with the Father. When Christ lived upon the earth he said the following:
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:13-15
The last part of being a friend with Christ is very important to emphasize. Christ specifies that if we are his friend he will make known unto us “all things” that he has heard from the Father. Christ is the one that reveals to us the Father. He is the way to be received by the Father. Your question even highlights this, for we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, for without our Savior we could not come and be received by the Father.
We know the third member of the Godhead is the testator, as previously mentioned, and it is by revelation the Lord reveals to us the character of the Father and Son.
Elder McConkie further says,
“Further, if a revelation comes from, or by the power of the Holy Ghost, ordinarily the words will be those of the Son, though what the Son says will be what the Father would say, and the words may thus be considered as the Father’s.”
I believe our Savior alluded to this idea when he said to Philip when Philip asked if he could see the Father, (John 14:9) “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” As the sons and daughters of God put away the natural man (Mosiah 3:19) by yielding unto God’s Spirit they will draw closer to God and Jesus Christ (who are one). As our relationship grows with the Father our relationship will grow with the Son, and as our friendship grows with the Son we will increase our worship with the Father — as they are one.
Elder McConkie, in the same previous talk mentioned, says it a little better,
“Who can doubt that Christ’s mission is to reveal the Father, to lead us to the Father, to teach us how to worship the Father, to reconciles us to the Father?”
This is in part why I love the “Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood” and the following verses of scripture provided (Doctrine and Covenants 84:36-40),
For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore ball that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.
Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
We cannot come unto the Father (develop a personal relationship with him) except through the Son, and the Son desires for us to be his friend.
Thus we have the following verses of scripture, (D&C 59:5)
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.
And (John 14:15),
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
By which Elder McConkie follows with,
“These, then, are the commandments of commandments. They tie the Father and the Son together, as one, so that both receive our love and service.”