We pray to the Father and have our prayers answered through the Holy Ghost. How, then can we grow closer to the Savior?
, director, Church Correlation Review.
It is true that we have been commanded—by the Savior—to pray to the Eternal Father, the father of our spirits, in the name of Jesus Christ, even though the Savior permitted the Nephites to pray to him, apparently because he was with them (see 3 Ne. 19:17–30).
It is also true that the Savior has commanded us to draw near to him, to seek him diligently, to find him (see D&C 88:63–64). He atoned for our sins and is a member of the Godhead. As such, he has a very special relationship to each of us. All revelation since the expulsion of our first parents from the Garden of Eden has come through Jesus Christ. Notice, for example, that many revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants begin with such admonitions as “Hearken and listen to the voice of him who is from all eternity to all eternity, the Great I AM, even Jesus Christ” (D&C 39:1). The name “I AM,” by which Jesus Christ was known to ancient Israel (Ex. 3:14), significantly points out that the Savior was also the God of the Old Testament. Again, he is identified in modern scriptures as Jehovah (D&C 110:3), a name by which he was also known in ancient times.
Without his atoning sacrifice our spirits must have become subject to the devil, to be like him and to be shut out from God’s presence and to live in misery forever (see 2 Ne. 9:8–9). Since all things are done through Christ, how may we draw near unto him?
1. By emulating his life. He has commanded us to be perfect as he and the Father are perfect (see 3 Ne. 12:48). Since perfection is the goal of all Latter-day Saints, daily efforts to improve ourselves by observing the commandments bring us closer to him. The Lord is kind to his children by revealing that if they will strive to keep the commandments, he will bless them (see D&C 46:9).
2. By praying to the Eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ. Without sincere prayer the chance of attaining the goals of gospel living would be impossible. Knowing this, Satan persuades people not to pray (see 2 Ne. 32:8). Without prayer, the chance of entering into temptation is sure, with the resulting loss of reward (see D&C 61:39). We are promised that if we will pray always, we “may come off the conqueror” (D&C 10:5). Although we pray to the Father, might we not have a feeling of being in the presence of both the Father and the Son, since we are commanded to pray in Jesus’ name? (See 3 Ne. 18:19; 3 Ne. 20:31.) Would not this “closeness” be apparent, since they are both members of the Godhead?
3. By studying the scriptures. If we are to draw near to the Savior, we must know what he requires of us. Our understanding of right and wrong without the benefit of the scriptures could lead us away from the pathway to salvation. For example, should the person wronged be the first to seek a reconciliation? Human nature often suggests that the person wronged should wait for the one who wronged him to make the first overture. Not so, according to the Lord. (See Matt. 5:23–24.) Experience has taught that generally the one who is most knowledgeable about the scriptures is the most faithful.
4. By seeking the influence of the Holy Ghost. Every Latter-day Saint has the right to receive the companionship of the Spirit and should seek that blessing. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the Father and the Son and gives enlightenment regarding them. Have you felt the uplifting influence of that Spirit when you prayed and received the feeling that the prayer was being heard and an answer would be forthcoming? The closeness one has with the Savior is manifest ofttimes by the Holy Spirit.
5. By following the Brethren. God’s authorized servants receive interpretation of scripture, solutions to present-day problems, and a reaffirmation of gospel teachings that lead to perfection. If we follow the inspired teachings of the General Authorities of the Church, we will be led toward a closer relationship with the author of our salvation (see Heb. 5:9), and hence to our ultimate goal of exaltation with him. When one is a disciple of Jesus Christ, there comes a relationship to him that brings nearness. However, if we reject, or even if we do not know what the counsel of the Brethren is, there is a lessening of the spirit of the Lord in our lives. In fact, rejection brings apostasy and the loss of the Holy Spirit, but endeavoring to abide by counsel brings confirmation of the Spirit with the resultant peace and joy. Such feelings bring us closer to the Savior—they are the blessings he has promised to those who keep his commandments. And the scriptures warn that we cannot be blessed unless we hearken to his words given through his servants. (See D&C 124:45–46.)
6. By partaking of the sacrament. This is one of the treasured ways in which we may come to a relationship with the Savior. A particularly opportune time to remember the Savior, to meditate on the meaning of taking his name upon us, and to seek for the Spirit, is the sacrament period. Regularly, we may move closer to that one Being who is memorialized in the sacrament.
7. By spiritual practices. Payment of tithing, fast offerings and other donations, and giving service of many kinds—home and visiting teaching, priesthood and auxiliary teaching, leadership callings, and many other callings—are opportunities for spiritual growth. They keep alive in us the desire to draw closer to the Savior in the other ways mentioned here.
Our goal for our relationship with Jesus Christ may be summed up in the Lord’s counsel to Enoch, “Walk with me” (Moses 6:34). In walking with the Savior one follows the course of life taught in the scriptures and in the Church. Like the name “Saint,” it means to be set apart to a special in the Lord’s cause, set apart from the world.