We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. He is the God of Heaven and Earth, and the Father of our spirits. We lived with Him as His spirit children before we came to Earth. It has been His plan from the beginning that we all follow His path and become like Him. As part of His “Great Plan of Salvation,” our spirits were sent to Earth to be born, receive a physical body (from earthly parents), and gain earthly experience.
Before coming to Earth, we all knew and understood we would have challenges and temptations here; and, we would often make mistakes. This life of challenges, trials, and temptations was all part of His Plan, and we agreed to it. We knew we would need a physical body; and, we knew we would need to overcome our weaknesses and modify our inappropriate behaviors to become more like the Father and qualify for Eternal Life with Him. This was all part of His glorious plan. We would need to repent of our mistakes (sins) and strive to become more like Him! As mortals, we are naturally weak and often make mistakes. But our Heavenly Father wants us to repent, seek forgiveness, draw unto Him, and be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. This process of repentance, forgiveness, and coming unto the Father is the process of “sanctification” (see Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:20).
However, in this life, we do not automatically have a clear memory or knowledge of our pre-mortal existence, nor of God’s Great and Eternal Plan for us. In fact, many of us have little or no memory (nor even the idea) of our pre-earthly life …nor of God’s plan. But the information is out there, and the whisperings and promptings of the Holy Spirit will guide us. Often, the noise and distractions of the world drowned out those spiritual whisperings. This is our challenge, but our Heavenly Father has not abandoned us! A modern-day prophet has provided the following insight:
“My dear brothers and sisters, we live in a most difficult dispensation. Challenges, controversies, and complexities swirl around us. …our Heavenly Father never intended that we would deal with the maze of personal problems and social issues on our own. ‘God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son’ (see John 3:16) to help us (see John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20). And His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us. All so that we could have access to godly power—power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles, and temptations of our day. We can protect ourselves by knowing and living by the word of God (see Ephesians 6:17–18; Doctrine and Covenants 27:18). We begin by learning about Him. ‘It is impossible for [us] to be saved in ignorance’ (see D&C 131:6). The more we know about the Savior’s ministry and mission—the more we understand His doctrine (see 2 Nephi 31:2-21) and what He did for us—the more we know that He can provide the power that we need for our lives.”
President Russell M. Nelson
Through the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit (the Revelator, a member of the Godhead), He will teach us all things we need to know. (2 Nephi 32:5, John 16:13, and D&C 45:57) For our part, we must seek an understanding of God’s Great Plan through prayer, study, and obedience to the truths and knowledge we receive. Initially, our earthly parents and teachers provide guidance. But ultimately, the responsibility is ours. We must individually seek to understand the will of God by earnest and humble prayer to our Heavenly Father, relying on the influence of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our understanding.
Remember, our Heavenly Father truly loves all His children. And, it is His desire that we learn of Him, learn of His plan for us, and come unto Him by following the plan as best we can. Along the way, the Holy Spirit will guide us as we follow Him and gradually modify our behavior to be more like Him. But, how do we get started, and how do we stay on the path? Here are some basic principles for doing just that.
NOTE: Please consider, only as an example, the following possible pattern for effective prayer and spiritual preparation. This is just an idea and not a strict procedural thing. Your personal prayers should be individual, spiritual and private …just between you and “your Father in Heaven.” But, if you’re new at this, or it’s been a while, this pattern might be instructional. Here you go!
Pray …Study …Pray …and Obey!
We should pray regularly and often to the Father. Find a quiet spot without interruptions. Return to that same spot routinely for your prayers. When you begin each prayer, take a moment and try to visualize the Father in your mind. Then, talk to Him. Express your gratitude. Tell Him of your needs and desires. Don’t rush. Be honest, sincere, and humble. During each prayer, listen and be sensitive to the feelings and promptings you may receive. As you conclude each prayer session, don’t rush. Pause and ponder your experience. Try to remember how you felt (and how you feel). Make a mental or written note/journal entry of your feelings. Look for subtle patterns in your feelings during each prayer. Over time, if you are humble and sincere, your prayers will become more meaningful, …and effective!
In addition to your meaningful personal prayers, find a regular time to prayerfully study good books. In particular, study the Holy Scriptures. Over the centuries, God has spoken to His Prophets (Amos 3:7) and revealed His Great Plan of Salvation (the Plan of Happiness) to them. Prophets and Apostles have recorded these sacred revelations, and their associated truths, in the Holy Scriptures. Immerse yourself in scripture study. As you do, ask the Father for enlightenment …before and after your study. Then, keep your mind and heart open to promptings from the Holy Spirit. As you read and ponder the Holy Scriptures, their glorious truths may fill your heart and mind. These truths and knowledge will inspire you and provide material upon which the Holy Spirit (the Revelator) can work. He (the Holy Spirit) will commune with your spirit and will testify of the truth to you. And He will strengthen your testimony of that truth. You will begin to understand and know our Heavenly Father’s plan for you!
As you learn of Him and His Great Plan for you, apply this knowledge to your personal life and behavior. Act upon what you know! Learn to live your life in accordance with your knowledge and understanding of God’s Plan. Remember this, your life is meant to be a journey of discovery, modification, and sanctification. It can be an exciting and glorious journey, full of Faith, Hope …and Charity.
“For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 10:19)
“Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.” (D&C 6:7)
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