By Benjamin Bragg
God isn't nearly as cold and distant as some would make Him out to be. His love for you isn't just some vague, impersonal thing where He generally likes humanity because He created the world, the way an artist might like his painting. He loves each and every person on an individual level. He's the Father of our spirits, and He takes that title seriously.
As gifted speaker, Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in an October 2009 address:

No Father would send His children off to a distant, dangerous land for a lifetime of testing where Lucifer was known to roam free without first providing them with a personal power of protection. He would also supply them with means to communicate with Him from Father to child and from child to Father. Every child of our Father sent to earth is provided with the Spirit of Christ, or the Light of Christ. We are, none of us, left here alone without hope of guidance and redemption.”

Like any loving father, He wants to hear from us. You can talk to Him any time you want by praying to Him in the name of His son, Jesus Christ. It doesn't always have to be to ask for something or be about something of grave importance, either. You don't have to worry about wasting His time. Pray to thank God for something good that came your way. Pray for help calming down before that upcoming final. Pray to tell Him all of the lousy things that happened to you today and ask for relief. Whatever you say to Him, He'll be listening intently. Furthermore, He'll answer you!
Precisely how and when God will answer your prayers is uncertain. He may have the Holy Ghost speak peace to your soul. He might have the Holy Ghost call an important fact to remembrance or dissuade you from making an unwise decision. He might put you in a position to accomplish your goals, or He might send another of His children your way to help shoulder your load. He might even reveal some hidden gems of truth and wisdom to you, illuminating your path, allowing you to see a bit of what He sees. What's certain is that He will answer you and the answer will come in the time and manner that is best for you.
There are myriad ways that God answers prayers, so at times it might be difficult to tell whether something is a message from God, your own imagination, or from the devil. Here's a good test to differentiate between the two:
Look at what you think you're being told. Does it persuade you to do good and serve your fellow man, or is it telling you to be selfish at the expense of others? If it's telling you to do good, then there's a good chance that it was from God. Even if it wasn't actually from Him and you follow it, you still ended up doing a good thing, so no worries!
If you think you're being told to do something wrong that would hurt yourself or others, then there's just about zero chance that that bit was a communication from God. For example, being a loving God, your Heavenly Father wouldn't send you an angel telling you to burn down orphanages on Christmas eve, so you could quite readily dismiss such an ambassador as not coming from the Lord.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God” (Moroni 7:16).



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