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)
John Burggraaf says
Sister Harrison, I am sure sorry about the situation with your husband having Lou Gehrig’s disease! I pray that you will feel the peace and comfort of the Savior through this time. I have a tremendous respect for you both and the great work you have done.
I am extremely interested right now in better understanding what kind of personal relationship we should be striving for with Jesus Christ. I’m confused why our church leaders do not teach more about talking directly to Him, because I would think that would be quite an important concept for us to understand. I feel like we need more specific guidance on this concept though, so it is respectful, appropriate, we don’t go beyond the mark, etc. I’m aware of Alma the Younger crying out to Jesus (Alma 36:18; 38:8), and I would greatly appreciate any further doctrinal foundation for this concept of talking directly and specifically to Christ.
Colleen Harrison says
Thanks so much for caring so much about addressing the Savior, directly. May I inquire, do you have a copy of He Did Deliver Me from Bondage or of Clean Hands, Pure Heart? The reason I ask is that in HDDMFB for instance, beginning on page 142 is the chapter entitled, “Counsel With the Lord in All Thy Doings.”
And in Clean Hands, Pure Heart there is a section in Appendix A. starting on page 257 that also contains many scriptural and modern references from prophets.
If you do not have these materials to read through, I would be glad to send you pdf copies of them (not the whole books, just these parts.)
It is my lived experience and witness of our Father’s and our Savior’s perfect oneness in heart and mind that fills my heart with the absolute certainty that it does not offend our Father that we seek and cleave to His Beloved Son and follow all these prophetic admonitions to “counsel with Him,” “hear Him,” seek Him and find Him.
Our Father in Heaven sent His Son to be our Savior from the mortal condition. He is our Father’s greatest gift to us. He is the only Holy ONE of Israel, Jehovah of the OT, Christ Jesus in the NT, and “the Lord” of the Book of Mormon.
Every prophet of the Book of Mormon models for us the deeply personal and direct relationship they had toward Jesus Christ, specifically. All to the glory and joy of our Father who sent Him to counsel, comfort and carry us Home.
I share this testimony with you in His sacred Name, Jesus Christ. Amen.
p.s. Please write again if you need those pdf documents or if you just want to continue with this discussion of this MOST important truth. I would also commend you to read 2 Nephi, chapters 31, 32, and 33, slowly, verse by verse and write your own prayerful thoughts and reflections as you go.
I remain sincerely, your sister in the Gospel (glorious good news) of Christ.
John Burggraaf says
It means so much to hear from you! Thank you very much for sharing with me your precious testimony about this! I got both of those books quite sometime ago, but I have moved since I got them, and can’t seem to find them at the moment. I would greatly appreciate a PDF copy of those sections where you talk about it (I’m assuming you have my email address). I will also prayerfully review those chapters in 2 Nephi. Thanks very much again for helping me better understand this important doctrine!