Is there a God, you may wonder. How can I know God, when I don’t know if He’s real?
Some people deny the existence of God; others want to believe, but are unsure about the nature of God. Though many people are confused about their beliefs, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints testify boldly that God lives.
We believe that God is the father of our spirits and that He orchestrated a divine plan whereby we could have a mortal experience, be born on earth, and learn to be like Him.
We believe that God has a body of flesh and bones much like ours, but glorified and perfected.
We believe that God cares deeply for each of His children, which includes all of the people who have ever lived on earth, and that He has a plan for each one. We believe that He hears and answers prayers and that He wants us to choose carefully so that we can return to His presence when we have completed our mortal journey.
Latter-day Saints believe that it is important not only to know who God is, but also to know Him—to develop a relationship with Him. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
How Can I Know God, When I don’t Know Who He is?
You may wonder about the nature of God. How can you know God, when you don’t know who He is?
In Genesis we read, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26). Could it be more plain? We were created in the image of God. We look like Him.
Moses reinforced this doctrine, when he recorded an intimate conversation with God: “And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them” (Moses 2:27). You can find this record in the Pearl of Great Price, an additional book of scripture that is used by Latter-day Saints.
Latter-day Saints believe in the Godhead. “We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in his son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (Pearl of Great Price 1:1). We believe that these are three separate persons, and that God the Father and Jesus Christ are both glorified beings who have physical bodies as tangible as yours and mine. We believe that the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.
We read more about this in the Doctrine and Covenants, another book of scripture. “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)
In the spring of 1820, a fourteen year old boy, named Joseph Smith, went into a grove of trees to pray about which church to join. His prayer was answered in a most miraculous way. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him to answer his question. His experience was the beginning of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth.
We learn much about the nature of God from Joseph’s description of this event. We learn that Jesus Christ and God the Father are separate people, that They look like us, and that They are glorious beyond description.
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me…When the light rested upon me I saw two personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. 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 History 1:16-17)
The testimony of Joseph Smith is a powerful witness of the nature of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Even more powerful is to have this witness confirmed personally to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. You can know for yourself. You can receive this witness through study and prayer.
How Can I Know God When I don’t Understand Him?
Understanding God sounds a little overwhelming. Yet it is critical. How can I know God when I don’t understand Him?
Our Heavenly Father is all powerful and all knowing. In True to the Faith we read, “God the Father is the Supreme Being in whom we believe and whom we worship. He is the ultimate Creator, Ruler, and Preserver of all things. He is perfect, has all power, and knows all things” (True to the Faith, A Gospel Reference, p. 74).
Though He has power to do anything, God seldom interferes with agency, the power to choose. If God is all powerful, you may wonder why He does not prevent tragedies. He usually allows things to run their natural course, so that we can experience mortality. He sometimes intervenes when it suits an eternal purpose.
God knows everything. He knows us individually. Though we feel our own nothingness when we consider the vastness of His creations, we are important to Him. He loves us with a love we cannot comprehend. He knows our names. He knows our circumstances. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He also knows our weaknesses and loves us unconditionally.
Heavenly Father is a God of mercy. Though He cannot look on sin with the least degree of allowance, He has given us the power to choose so that we can learn from our choices. He has provided a Savior for us, and offers us the principle of repentance and the power to change.
Heavenly Father is a God of miracles. Many people do not believe in miracles, but we are surrounded by miracles. Miracles are so commonplace, that we often do not notice them. Life is a miracle. The human body is a miracle. Miracles abound in nature.
In the Book of Mormon we read:
For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, ad forever, and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith. (2 Nephi 21:23)
Heavenly Father is a God of order, as evidenced by the relentless march of time, the rhythm of the seasons, the movements of the planets, and the harmony of birth and death.
How Can I Come to Know God on a Personal Level?
How well do we know God? Does He care about us? Can I come to know God on a personal level?
We once lived in our Heavenly Father’s presence. In His presence we were taught and prepared to come to earth. When we were born, a veil was placed over our minds so that we do not remember Him. We must search to find Him, and when we do, we find that in spite of the veil, He is familiar to us.
The Proclamation on the Family explains this doctrine:
In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped god as their eternal Father, and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
We can come to know our Father in Heaven as we once did, by studying His words. Latter-day Saints study the Bible. We also study modern scripture such as the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. As we study His word, we become closer to Him. We understand Him. We learn to love Him.
Our Heavenly Father has given us commandments because He wants us to be happy. Some people think that His commandments are restrictive. In reality the more we obey God’s commandments, the more freedom we have. Obeying God’s commandments is the happiest way to live. As we live His commandments we grow closer to Him.
Prayer is one of God’s greatest gifts. We can kneel at His throne and gain access to His wisdom and power. We can draw strength from Him. We can obtain answers to our questions. We can feel His love, as we obtain knowledge, peace, and capabilities beyond our own.
Heavenly Father is a God of revelation. We come to know Him through revelation. The heavens are not closed, as many suppose. Revelation continues in our day.
Our current prophet, Thomas S. Monson, receives revelation for the Church, as do his counselors and the Twelve Apostles. Through these men, the Lord speaks to us and reveals Himself to us.
Through prayer we can receive revelation. When we receive answers to prayers, we receive personal revelation. Such revelation gives us purpose and direction. This is how we come to know our Father in Heaven.
Getting to know our Father in Heaven is a process. It takes time and effort but brings rich rewards.
Amazingly, this is only the beginning, for there are other glorious Beings we want to know. The other members of the Godhead are just as wonderful.
Getting to know God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost will bring powerful blessings into your life.
More About “How Can I Know God?”
“How Can I Know God?” was written by Linda Garner. The subject “How Can I Know God?” is important to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you would like to know more about Mormons with no obligation, please click on the following links: