For the last 21 years, I’ve been blessed to live with one of my dearest friends, Phil Harrison. Many of you have heard him bear his unwavering testimony of our Savior in both song and spoken witness. As President Nelson lifts the standard high concerning hearing Christ’s counsel, I feel honored to share a portion of Phil’s written testimony of his sacred experiences with our Lord.
As many of you know, Phil has been afflicted with the terminal illness known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and is currently on hospice. We are watching his strength to talk or even to breath deeply fade with every passing month. But here, now, we can hear his heart and mind, loud and clear.
COUNSELING WITH THE LORD WHILE PRAYING TO THE FATHER
This idea of conversing or counseling directly with the Savior may seem as puzzling to you as it was to me at first. Like me, you may be wondering, “I thought we were only supposed to pray to our Father in Heaven, not to the Savior.” That’s true–the Lord Himself commands us to always pray to the Father in His own name:
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed (3 Nephi 18:18-21, emphasis added).
Nevertheless, at the same time, we are encouraged to develop a personal relationship with the Savior. Again, you may ask, as I did, “How can I have a relationship with Jesus if I can’t talk to Him?” Indeed, how could we have a relationship with anyone we couldn’t talk to? The truth is, we can talk with Him. We actually can! As we noted in studying Step Eleven, Brigham Young talked about our relationship with the Savior in very intimate terms, explaining our need to communicate directly with Him:
“… the greatest and most important of all requirements of our Father in Heaven and of his Son Jesus Christ. … is to believe in Jesus Christ, confess him, seek him, cling to him, make friends with him. Take a course to open a communication with your Elder Brother or file-leader–our Savior.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 339, emphasis added.)
Nephi bore testimony of the sweet, tender relationship he had with Jesus and the marvelous communication he enjoyed with Him:
I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell. . .And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. (2 Nephi 33:6,10)
(Excerpted from pp. 259-261 of Clean Hands, Pure Heart by Philip A. Harrison)