Prayer: The Father and Son Chat

Today I was listening to a Mormon Messages soundbite on preparing ourselves spiritually each day and the main focus moved onto prayer.

I am pretty diligent in my scripture study, even if it’s only a few verses a day, I attend my regular Church meetings and renew my covenants and I try to fulfill my callings to the best of my ability whilst balancing family life. However, the one practice that I never seem to get right or do consistently is my personal prayers. We say family prayers everyday and you would think as a return missionary I would be better at this. I have seen miracles, felt clear promptings as a direct result and witnessed changes in my own nature as a result of heartfelt prayer. So why do I struggle with it on a regular basis. I seem to leave Church each Sunday with the commitment to improve my personal prayers and then fall short! Why do I not call on my Heavenly Father? 

All these thoughts began to buzz around my mind as I listened closely to the audio clip. Later, they shared a passage of scripture from the Bible Dictionary. Some of it I remembered and have used in my own opportunities to teach such as a talk, or when I have ministered. However, there was a section they read which I was sure was from some other source and I even rewound the recording to listen to where they found it again, but it was indeed from the very same place: the Bible Dictionary. It says this:

“As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.”

For some reason, despite knowing that God is my Heavenly Father, this struck a chord in me. I love speaking to my Dad – I know that he loves me and is pleased to see me when we meet. How much more then is my Heavenly Father eager to see me when I ‘meet’ Him in prayer. No disrespect to my earthly father, but my Heavenly Father is so much more able, willing to love and has given me more guidance and help in my life than my earthly father (although, I owe my life to him also). So why shouldn’t I be anxious to get on my knees and communicate with Him!? 

The answer is right there at the end of the Bible Dictionary passage – we forget about how intimate the relationship with our Heavenly Father is. In fact, the unfortunate paradox is that we probably understand this intimate relationship the best when we are already praying fervently and often…not before we begin the process. So how can we always remember this relationship with Heavenly Father so we are consistent in our prayers?

There will be many answers, each more useful or unique to different people. However, I think the main answer is one which relates to the wonderful teaching by Alma in Alma 32:28 where he says:

“Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.”

In other words, we just need to cast aside our apathy, our easiness to drift into relative contentment, and just get on our knees and do it! Then the next day, have some reminder ready and do it again! Try the word and see what happens. Only then can our hearts truly BEGIN to change. The word BEGIN is important there. It is a lifelong process which is why we are taught so often the basics – because we aren’t getting them all right yet.

Tonight – I will just do it!

A Creator

Many people believe that this Earth which we live on was a random chance which occurred many years ago with which they can explain the origin of life itself.

Elder James E Talmage gave his thoughts on this perspective. “…man’s ingenuity has invented theories to illustrate…a possible sequence of events by which the earth has been brought from a state of chaos to it’s present habitable condition; but by these hypotheses this globe was once a barren sphere, on which none of the innumerable forms of life that now tenant it could have existed. The theorist therefore must admit a beginning to life on the earth, and such a beginning is explicable only on the assumption of some creative fact…” (articles of Fatith pgs 34-35).

The theories developed by man are indeed logical in many cases – however, to say that a monumental, cataclysmic event from nothing (as was once explained to me) is illogical to me. Elder Talmage also mentioned this – “we conclude that something must have existed always, for had there been a time of no existence, a period of nothingness, existence could never had begun, for from nothing, nothing can be derived.” (Articles of Faith, pg 34).

Many scientists do actually concede that there must be a greater power out in the universe and they are trying to explain how this Power caused these things to occur so perfectly. Said Alma to Korihor “…all things denote there is a God; yea even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and it’s motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” (Alma 30:44).

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1) – the Earth began with it’s creation and it was the Old Testament Jehovah, under the direction of the Father, that undertook this task. There was, and is, a Maker, an Organiser, a God. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalms 14:1). Often, the problem is that we need to have the Spirit of the Lord with us to begin to build a testimony of God and His influence. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts.” (Ephesians 4:18) Because many shut their eyes from the Spirit, they cannot feel it’s light.

We do have a Heavenly Father and He, through His Son Jesus Christ, created this Earth for us to come and dwell. We can all receive this witness but we have to be ready to listen to the quiet promptings of the Spirit. We read “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:4) – one needs a broken heart and a contrite spirit to know these things, and God will provide an answer.

I Am A Child of God

The Debilitating Lie
In the Pearl of Great Price, we begin with reading about Moses and a glorious experience he has with the Father. Moses was carried away in the Spirit into a vision and he witnesses the glory of God – we read in Moses 1:3

“And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?”

What an amazing experience. Here is Moses, a mortal man, witnessing before him the very existence of a God and that He is all-powerful and endless. If you were in that moment, how would you feel? A little intimidated? Nervous? Even a little scared? Or, if you know the truth that Moses was to learn immediately after, maybe you would feel something else. God goes on to say in verse 4:

“And, behold, thou art my son;”

Why would the Lord, after proclaiming his never-ending nature, decide to proclaim his never-ending relationship with Moses? Why teach him so early on this profound truth? We find the answer very soon after this marvellous vision. Satan, the father of lies, deception and falsehoods, comes to Moses immediately after this life-changing experience. This cunning architect of doubt knew exactly what his best stratagem was after Moses had such a revealing vision of God. In verse 12 we read:

“And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.”

Here is the great, debilitating lie that Satan often uses with us today to seemingly demean our value, and it is what he tried with Moses. Moses had just witnessed a perfect Being, a glorified Man – one who Moses might have found difficult to relate to, had he not learnt the simple, glorious truth mentioned before. Was he not indeed insignificant, did he not tremble before the presence of this almighty God and see he, himself, was inadequate? In saying ‘Moses, son of man’ Satan is deliberately trying to cause feelings of doubt and unworthiness in Moses, implying that Moses is worth nothing to God, this Mighty, Immortal Being.

The Glorious Truth

But, we know different. Moses knew different. He had been taught the simple, profound truth – the truth that would enable him to overcome all Satan could throw at him, to overcome all feelings of doubt and inadequacy – and yet, Primary children in our Church at the age of three (even younger) sing this life-saving truth in an innocent, heartfelt song – ‘I am a Child of God’. Because this doctrine is learnt at such a young age in the Church I feel I have often overlooked its significance. Moses did indeed overcome Satan’s advances in this experience, we can do the same.

Often Understated, Can Never Be Overstated

These thoughts are based on a talk given by Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy in a recent General Conference. He stated:

“This doctrine is so basic, so oft stated, and so instinctively simple that it can seem to be ordinary, when in reality it is among the most extraordinary knowledge we can obtain. A correct understanding of our heavenly heritage is essential to exaltation.”

It is indeed understated just how important this tremendous truth is. The reality is, it can never be overstated. Just imagine if you did not know there was a God? Would there be any purpose to our mortal lives? Would we be motivated if we did not have an ultimate, eternal goal to strive for? Now, imagine how you would feel if you felt there was a God, but you had no meaningful, loving connection with Him? Would this be any more comforting that not knowing there was a God at all? That there was some all-powerful Being observing our every action, with little care or unconditional love for us?

If we look in the Bible Dictionary under ‘God’ we read:

“Although God created all things and is the ruler of the universe, being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (through His Spirit), mankind has a special relationship to Him that differentiates man from all other created things: man is literally God’s offspring, made in His image, whereas all other things are but the work of His hands.”

As mentioned, this special relationship can be a great support and comforting for us to know as we journey through this mortal life. It means a lot. Once we understand this eternal truth, we can know that God is indeed there, but not only that, that He loves us as a perfect Father does, He is guiding us, He knows what is best for us and He desires nothing more for us to return again to Him for eternity.

Eternal Implications

Such a monumental truth has a number of implications, things which we need to take into account. I will only mention a couple but there are many.

The first, as mentioned, is the way we view trials. Elder Hallstrom went on to say in his message:

“When difficult things occur in our lives, what is our immediate response? Is it confusion or doubt or spiritual withdrawal? Is it a blow to our faith? Do we blame God or others for our circumstances? Or is our first response to remember who we are—that we are children of a loving God? Is that coupled with an absolute trust that He allows some earthly suffering because He knows it will bless us, like a refiner’s fire, to become like Him and to gain our eternal inheritance?”

The truth of ‘I am a child of God’ can have a profound impact on how we react to trials in our lives. Trials change from being irritable barriers which impede our progress to spiritual hurdles which, whilst challenging, will ultimately support our growth and progress.

The second thing we change is our view of each other. How much easier does it become to love those around us when we recognise and understand that, as we are all the children of God, we are all spiritually connected and related? In the weeks leading up to serving my Mission in the England Leeds Mission, I was having a personal struggle. Not one of desire to actually go on my mission – but one of concern with my level of charity. It’s not that I didn’t care for other people…it’s that I just didn’t like talking to people, much less people I had no connection with (and even less those from Yorkshire!) Joking aside, a couple of weeks before I was to leave, I begin to have a quiet concern – how could I begin to proclaim the Gospel if I didn’t have a love for the people I would be serving. I had a love of the Saviour and His Atonement – but I do not think I yet had a sufficient understanding that we are all children of God (despite, again, having sung that fact over a thousand times). Elder Hallstrom commented on this saying:

This beloved hymn is one of the most often sung in this Church. But the critical question is, do we really know it? Do we know it in our mind and in our heart and in our soul? Is our heavenly parentage our first and most profound identity?

I thought I did – but maybe I was wrong. As it was, this concern was eating away at me as I was sat on a bus travelling to a destination. It grew and grew in my mind until I couldn’t bear it. I looked around at all the unfamiliar people from my seat at the back of the bus (remember, I was on a public transport, so they were very unfamiliar) and I just couldn’t imagine myself ever having the confidence and the strength to talk to them. As the worry grew, I felt a profound feeling that I needed to pray…looking back this now reminds me of a scripture in Moroni 7:45 which says: 

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God;”

As I prayed, certainly trying as much as I could in my heart, something significant stirred within me. It can only be described as a prompting from the greatest teacher we have access to, the Holy Ghost. As I lifted my eyes from being bowed in prayer, something incredible happened. There was no heavenly music, no mystical voice heard in my ear – but there was a significant change in my heart. For that moment, I understood. I looked around again, at each individual on that bus, and I saw a glimpse of something that I hadn’t even yet seen in myself – potential. Every single soul on that bus had (and still have today) the potential to become as God is, their Heavenly Father. No matter who they were, where they were from, what life they had lived up until that point, they could become like Him. The only thing stopping them was not having the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and I had it!! The young, 18-year-old man at the back of that bus was sitting there with eternal truths that would bless their eternal lives forever…so why was he just sat there!? Unfortunately I cannot say that I jumped up and proclaimed restored truth to my first converts then, but I knew what was needed. Not for me to be perfect at teaching, or even be the most confident at talking to people. I needed to recognise that EVERYONE I spoke to had divine potential, they were offspring of God.

What do we need to do?

Now, in a world that is constantly pulling us in seemingly never-ending directions, the truth of ‘I Am a Child of God’ can take a backseat. It really can be a truth which, whilst it is glorious in principle, it can be ordinary in day-to-day living. Elder Hallstrom warned us of this, saying: 

“The more distractions that surround us, the easier it is to treat casually, then ignore, and then forget our connection with God.”

Elder Hallstrom said it is a truth which is vital to our exaltation. Whatever methods we take to internalise this truth and understand it more (and yes it is the usual, seemingly ‘ordinary and mundane’ answers of reading scriptures, engaging in consistent meaningful prayer, partaking the sacrament religiously and renewing our covenants made with the Father and so on), they simply cannot be glossed over. A 30 second prayer which we repeat every evening will not open our natural eyes to the glorious feeling that we have divine potential – we must WANT to find this truth.

Getting from A to C via B

Just a quick post this week.

Over a year ago in October 2015, my wife and I find out that we needed to move our little family out of the home we had been staying in for nearly a year and really enjoyed. This was not pleasant news for us. Nevertheless, we began looking for a place to within 6 weeks. It was not the easiest time but through our prayers we felt that the Lord would direct us. Most importantly we wanted to feel confident and sure in the decision we would make.

As we looked around we found a place that was a possibility. It was a similar price to what we were already paying, was a well cared for house and had a little garden. The problems were that it wasn’t in the most pleasant of areas, it was not a large home and we would have to move wards from the ward we love right now. It also had an excellent school fairly close by but also some troubling ones closer to it. We decided to go have a look round as we were quite undecided. We jumped into the car and drove the short drive. As we looked around we checked every detail. We were aware of the issues mentioned earlier. The house was pleasant and we were anxious about the little amount of time we had to find a new home for our little family. So, on the drive back, we pulled over and prayed about the decision, involving our children in the prayer. What happened next surprised us. We received a clear answer. Our three year old son also said he felt the same. The answer was not the answer we wanted and not the answer we were expecting. We felt that we should go for the home we had just viewed, despite it not being the home we maybe would have wanted. This was a clear and distinct impression, one that we could not deny.

So we set the process into motion. If this experience followed most you hear about listening to the Spirit, we would have moved into the home and lived happily ever after. But this did not happen.

Once we had begun the process and it became more serious, we suddenly felt differently. Both my wife and myself felt this uncertainty around our decision on the very same day and were unsure how to express this to each other that evening until we realised we both felt the same. And so, after more prayer and discussion, we decided to pull out of renting that home.

The next day, we went about our daily activities, confused why we had been allowed to go through this process if ultimately that was not the right destination for our family. But then, the very next day after pulling out of the original house, another appeared. One that was larger. One that was cheaper than the one we were living in AND the one we nearly moved to. One that would keep us in the Ward we wanted to stay in. One that had good and excellent schools and nurseries around it to choose from. This was our answer, this was our blessing for obedience to the promptings of the still, small voice.

For a long while, I thought that this experience was simply a test of faith. If we could listen to the promptings and follow them, even though it may not have originally been what we wanted, then we would be blessed further. However, my wife recently came across this video from Elder Jeffrey R Holland who speaks superbly about sometimes being led by the Lord down a certain path before being corrected by Him to go on another – to show us that the right path is absolutely the right one. He explains it much better than I could, so I will just drop the link here and urge you to watch it.

The Love of God

This entry is based on a Conference talk given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the October 2009 General Conference.

God’s love for us is infinite and all-encompassing. There is a vast array of evidence of this love and He does show it. “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love…” (2 Nephi 1:15), “let us love one another: for love is of God…” (1 John 4:7), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,” (John 3:16) – these are just a few passages that describe the love of God. The miraculous thing is that He loves each and every one of us, no matter who we are or what we are becoming.

President Uchtdorf said “I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly…He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.” God’s love extends to all of His children. Whether we accept it His love or not is a different matter – but he will always be there.

What does this ultimate love do for us? It is very important because we can then trust in God that He will protect and provide for us when it is when it is the best for us. God does not need us to love Him But oh, how we need to love God!” President Uchtdorf continued and went on to say For what we love determines what we seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we are—and who we will become.This is a powerful thought because that means if we truly love God (which includes keeping his commandments – see John 14:15) then we will become more like God – something which is taught in the scriptures that is a goal for us – “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).

Following President Uchtdorf’s talk at the same Conference was a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. He said “Some seem to value God’s love because of their hope that His love is so great and so unconditional that it will mercifully excuse them from obeying His laws. In contrast, those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children.” As God is perfect, He must uphold His laws and the consequences of them. He does this to protect all His children. If He allowed mercy to rob justice “…the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:22)

At some point we see God showing anger towards His children – some would say that if He truly was a loving Heavenly Father then He would not express any anger or punishment. How can wrath and anger be an evidence of perfect love? Elder Oaks affirmed “He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is. For this reason, God’s anger and His wrath are not a contradiction of His love but an evidence of His love.” He went on to give the example of a parent being disappointed in a child’s behaviour, or even angry in a constructive manner – but doing it because they love the child and they want them to make the right choices now and later in life.

If we are truly wanting to fulfil admonition in John 14:15 to keep the commandments, we need the love of God. President Uchtdorf said “Divine love is the factor that transforms reluctant compliance with God’s commandments into blessed dedication and consecration.” If we link this principle with the thoughts presented by Elder Oaks – we learn that if we love God, we will understand why He asks what He asks. We see the blessings of commandments and, because we love Him and desire the blessings, our willingness to keep the commandments improves. Not only this, but as we see the results (the evidence of our faith), our faith increases and we are more willing to be obedient.

We are assured in scripture that we receive blessings for obedience to commandments – in D&C 130:21 it tells us “And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” As God wants the very best for all His children, He has revealed these ways, these eternal laws (these commandments) that if we live our lives in obedience to them, we can receive what He has.

The love of God is everlasting, unchanging – as are His laws. Elder Oaks went on to say “The effect of God’s commandments and laws is not changed to accommodate popular behavior or desires. If anyone thinks that godly or parental love for an individual grants the loved one license to disobey the law, he or she does not understand either love or law.” That means that we don’t have to fear that God’s love for us or His laws will ever change – they are constant. This is another evidence of this love.

As disciples of Christ, we need to try and emulate this love in all that we do. President Uchtdorf explained this in a marvellous way. He said Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship. Love is the way of the disciple.Love should be at the centre of all that we do. As we improve and increase our love we can become more Christ-like.

Truths and Deceptions

This entry is based on an entry in the Ensign (October 2009) by a sister called Jennifer Nucklos.

In this troublesome world, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is spreading to every corner of the globe. More and more are accepting the invitation to come unto Christ by receiving this Gospel through the principles and ordinances that he taught. We are really becoming the “stone…cut without hands,” (Daniel 2:34) in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Therefore, Satan is continuing his work with lies that he has crafted over millennia of deception and misery. In particular, he aims to lower our opinion of ourselves. As he achieves this – the afflicted person will lower their potential by these destructive thoughts and even find themselves lost, with the tragic view that they are not worth the trouble. These lies are mainly fuelled by our own thoughts and misinterpretation of scripture. Here are some examples:

Lie: Because of my weakness and failings, God is continually disappointed on, frustrated with, and even angry with me.
Truth: God loves me and rejoices in me because I am His child.
We all have weaknesses. Christ himself said “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble…” (Ether 12:27) so we actually have weaknesses and failings for a reason, and the Lord has allowed it. However, some misunderstand why we have these weaknesses and let these thoughts drag them down, which sometimes lead to further imperfections and therefore causing the person to lose the faith needed in Christ to overcome their trials. God’s love is perfect and “we are the children of God,” (Romans 8:16) so He will always deeply love us – even if we turn our back on Him. So, we can take comfort in the fact that He loves us and, through Christ’s Atonement, He can “make weak things become strong.” (Ether 12:27)

Lie: I’m not as righteous, spiritual, attractive, or kind as that other person; therefore God must love that person more than He loves me.
Truth: God knows my individual potential and progress intimately. He does not compare or rank me with His other children.
People may do this, because someone is ‘better’ than us they will like them better. However, God is not like us in this way. “God is no respector of persons,” (Acts 10:34) and so He loves one person just as much as the other. Elder Jeffrey R Holland said “He does not mercilessly measure [His children] against their neighbours. He doesn’t even compare them with each other. His gestures of compassion toward one do not require a withdrawal or denial of love for the other…” Just imagine your unconditional love for a parent, child or spouse, then multiply immeasurably – that is how much God loves each and every one of us.

Lie: I need to prove that I’m worth loving by being perfect. Only when I’m perfect will I be able to experience love from God and others.
Truth: Even though, I’m not perfect now, I can have constant access to divine love.
Whilst I do not think we consciously think that we need to be perfect to earn God’s love, I do think we place restrictions on ourselves because we are not good enough – thus really believing we do need to be perfect for God’s love and blessings. Sister Bonnie D Parkin said “Do we frequently reject the Lord’s love that He pours out upon us in much more abundance than we are willing to receive? Do we think we have to be perfect in order to deserve His love? When we allow ourselves to feel “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love,” (2 Nephi 1:15) … we realise that we don’t need to be immediately perfect.” If God only showed love to those who were perfect…there wouldn’t be a lot of love given, only to Christ! Those who strive to live God’s commandments do receive blessings as a result from keeping those eternal laws – but the love and desire that God has for us to return to Him is always there for every child of His.

Lie: I’m a terrible failure. I’ll never be good enough because I keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
Truth: I’m not perfect, but the desires of my heart are good. I can feel inspired to progress.
Godly sorrow is something we need to repent, it is a good thing. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…” (2 Corinthians 7:10) . However, there are some who unfortunately feel this sorrow to a detrimental level. They feel upset and unworthy because of their imperfections, leading them to think they’ll never be good enough. I’m sure many have felt this or feel this on a regular basis. However, as we partake in the sacrament, renew our commitment to the Lord on an even more regular basis then we can progress. It may take a lifetime (in fact, it will) but as we rely on Christ and do what we can to be better, then we will get there, no matter how many times we fall.

Lie: I have too many issues, hang-ups, and past mistakes to be blessed and happy.
Truth: No mistakes, no personal challenge, no past circumstance is outside of the healing and redemptive power of the Atonement.
If we believe in Christ, then we need to believe His words if we are to overcome this lie. President Boyd K Packer taught “…save for those few who defect to perdition…there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness…Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ.” Through Christ, all sin can be overcome – we can be mended and modified through the eternal, universal, redemptive power of the sacred Atonement. Alma the Younger felt it and said “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (Alma 36:21)

As we learn and understand these eternal truths, we can accept that we are imperfect – that even if we serve God “with all [our] whole souls…[we] would be unprofitable servants,” (Mosiah 2:21). Yet, we can still have God’s loving arms wrapped around us, for He loves His children, each and every one of us.

True Nature of God

The concept of God has been played with and discussed so much over the centuries after Christ because there was no ordained mouthpiece, witness or prophet to have the authority to know him. Some believe He is an unknown entity out somewhere that we cannot relate to. Some state that He is a spirit. Some state that He does not exist and of course there are many other theories. Once we get past what He actually ‘is’ there is the matter of his personality. Some say He is just and unflinching in His judgement. Some say He is so merciful that He will lovingly welcome us back no matter our choices and again, multitudes of theories are in between those two. Thanks to latter-day revelation and our Heavenly Father’s love for His children – He has revealed His true nature to the Earth to help us put our trust in Him and believe on Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, who is in the express image of His Father in every way.

First, I want to look deeper at the physical (for He is tangible) aspect of God. There are few accounts where God our Heavenly Father has actually been witnessed – but from these and other scriptures we know God does have a body of flesh and bone. To begin with, Genesis 1:26-27 states “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him…”. A statement saying we are in the image of God – also the phrasing ‘let us make man’ also has significant meaning which will be addressed later. In latter-day revelation, Joseph Smith states “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” (D&C 130:22). If Christ was resurrected and had a perfected, glorified body, would it not make sense that His Father has the same, perfect, physical attribute?

Now, linked with the question of God’s physical attributes, the doctrine of the Godhead must be considered. Widely known, many Christians believe that our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are all one Being or entity. Bringing back the statement found in Genesis ‘let us make man’ we are led to question why use the plural pronoun? Obviously, there are more important revelations stating this, but this phrase in Genesis should cause us to consider the possibility that they are three distinct Personages. He was speaking to His Son, Jehovah at the time, in the process of the Creation. Stephen the martyr saw “…the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” in Acts 7:56. How could he have seen God and Christ separately and distinguish them if they were not separate? It could be argued that with God, anything is possible, but why confuse a dying disciple and generations of future Christians about His nature? We also have to consider that it is “…impossible for God to lie.” (Hebrews 6:18) so surely a scene that confuses the nature of Him would go against that. Jesus Christ Himself, spoke to His Father many times – one being the Great Intercessory Prayer. In that petition, Christ says “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…that they may be one, even as we are one…” (John 17:21-22) – does Christ want His followers to be one entity or Personage? Or is He referring to being one in purpose? If He wants us to be one, as He and His Father are one, then we are to be unified in purpose, as Christ is with the Father. The final (but not only) account of God and Christ together as separate Personages is the glorious appearance of them to the boy Prophet, Joseph Smith. After centuries of darkness and confusion, the truth of God was restored. He says “When the light rested upon me…I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description…One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other – This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him.” Joseph Smith saw and heard God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, separate, distinct, visual and tangible Heavenly Beings. What more evidence could we need than from a prophet of God?

Now, let’s discover God’s personality. First, His omniscient knowledge. He sees all, He knows all. He even knows what choices we will make in certain conditions. To state briefly, as He is our perfect Father, He knows each and every one of His children better than they know themselves. Elder James E. Talmage says “God reads the future of child and children, of men individually and of men collectively as communities and nations; He knows what each will do under given conditions…” – however – “…Can it be said that the father’s foreknowledge is a cause of the son’s sinful life? The son…has reached his maturity; he is the master of his own destiny; a free agent unto himself.” (Jesus the Christ pg 29). Let it not be forgotten that, despite God knowing what we’ll do – we still decide and He allows our agency because He loves us! God makes perfect choices, therefore we can trust Him. In Isaiah 55:8-9 it says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Even when we think we know of a better solution for a situation – God sees the whole perspective of things and ultimately knows what’s best for us, like our earthly parents – only even more perfect!

God is also a just God. In Alma 42:22 it states “But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed…and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.” Law is something that keeps things in order – without it, all would be chaos. God has to abide by certain laws, or commandments (such as never being able to lie), and we are the same. If we break a law, then the penalty must be be paid – otherwise, is that fair? God cannot allow the penalty not to be paid because He would violate laws. However, 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” so there is a way we can be forgiven and the outcome will be just. Through Christ. Isn’t it settling to know that if we are dealt with wrongly in this life, despite living the best we can, we will be paid back in the next life. God is just.

As previously mentioned, God is also merciful, as well as just. He loves us so dearly that, if He could and if it would benefit us in our progression, He would make sure none of us have to feel sorrow. However, that is the only way we learn and grow from our mistakes. But, He has provided a way for us to return to live with Him – as we follow the Gospel of Christ. There are many scriptures relating to the mercy of God – one is Alma 12:33 which says “If ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon, through mine Only Begotten Son.” As stated, this mercy which God so wants to extend to us could only be brought about through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Alma explains “…the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins…that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” (Alma 42:15) God Himself, through His Beloved Son Jesus Christ, has made sure to provide a way for us to receive mercy – how much must He love us to provide that?

That, in fact, is another important attribute to consider – God’s love. As Peter testified “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons,” (Acts 10:34) – His love is unconditional and universal for all His children. He loves me just as much as He loves the vilest sinner ever, just as much as He has loved ancient prophets – we are all His loved sons and daughters. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) says that He even offered His Beloved Son so we could return to live with Him again. God created this whole plan in the first place because He loved us – He wanted us to have everything He had for we are “…heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:17) and this He did for us to live happily for eternity with Him and our families. Part of this plan is the fact we have our moral agency – our ability to choose. “And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life…or to choose captivity and death…” (2 Nephi 2:27) said Lehi of old. Enoch was shown in vision God’s perfect love in allowing all – including wicked people – to have their agency. Moses 7:26-33 gives this account “And he beheld Satan; And he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed…And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept…And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?…The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands…and in the Garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency; And unto thy brethren have I said…that they should love one another…but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood.” Others use their agency for evil, negatively affect others and God weeps in His love for us – because, even though He has the power to end all suffering, He doesn’t want to take away agency because it is necessary and a loving God would not subjugate all against their wills – that is how much He loves us.

Also, because of His love, He wants to help us through mortality. That’s why He has given us prophets, scripture, families and a way to communicate directly with Him, through prayer. He hears and answers our prayers! One of the most commonly used scriptures “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…” (Matthew 7:7) states this, that God will answer, not in the way we want or expect sometimes – “If ye then…know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him.” (Matthew 7:11). He will answer the righteous desires of our hearts, because He really does love us!

God is also a God of order, He has things set perfectly, starting with His planned creation – the planets move in perfect form and animals have perfect adaptations and balance. All is put together as a master designer would have done. The Lord said, in His commandment to build a temple, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house…a house of order, a house of God.” (D&C 88:119) Not only does He require things established in an orderly manner, but things need to be performed in the proper order and way too. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Hebrews 5:4) “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?…and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23). Each of these verses speak of the authority needed to act in God’s name – even when good things are done supposedly in Christ’s name – He won’t recognise them – that is the importance of order in God’s all-knowing eye, otherwise, it would truely be chaos, and we inevitably would become lost.

Another important attribute of God is that He is all-powerful. It confuses me that people question or argue the virgin birth of Christ when, one, today the technology is available for people to procreate through assistance of scientific methods and, two, if God is there (which He is) and He is omnipotent – would something like that not be possible? We do not need to look far in the scriptures to see other examples of God’s power “…and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” (Exodus 14:21) ” Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God…Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water…” (1 Kings 18:38) “Stretch forth thine hand again unto they brethren, and they shall not wither before thee, but I will shock them…I stretched forth my hand unto my brethren, and…the Lord did shake them…” (1 Nephi 17:53-54) “And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them…Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned…” (Helaman 12:13). If He were not all powerful – would we want to place our faith and trust in Him and His plan? It is because of His omnipotence we are able to place our faith in our Father’s plan and His Son who made the plan possible.

Finally, in all these attributes, God is perfect. He simply does not, can not and will not make a mistake. 2 Nephi 2:24, in relation to the Fall of Adam and Eve, says “…all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.” Adam and Even did not surprise God when they took the fruit. It was part of His perfect plan. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) was Christ’s admonition to us – He wouldn’t ask it of us if it wasn’t true and God wasn’t perfect. This final attribute makes it easier, once we believe it, to place our trust in Him. And He doesn’t change. “From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.” (D&C 76:4), the same yesterday, today and forever – and that is why He, our Heavenly Father, also has the title of ‘God’.

Why is it important we come to gain a knowledge of these things for ourselves? Why do we need to know God’s perfect love? Or indeed He is a separate, distinct Personage? “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) From this we may understand that, in order to gain eternal life, we need to know the God whom we worship – not blindly. Also, as mentioned before, if we are indeed to be perfect, as Christ commanded us to be, we need to know what we are aiming for. Simply, like we need to get to know our earthly parents, we need to know our Heavenly Father. Whilst it is vital to study and learn of our Heavenly Father, we also MUST develop a relationship with Him through daily sincere prayer. In the most recent General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson said “Are you willing to pray to know how to pray for more power? The Lord will teach you.” As we are taught by the Lord, we can come closer to our Heavenly Father, and then, we will truly become spiritually self-reliant.