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What is the nature of God?

God knows each of us personally. He loves us and hears and answers our prayers. By learning to be more like Him, we can live with Him again.

Who among us hasn’t asked such essential questions as “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” and “What will happen when I die?” Understanding God’s nature and His work allows us to answer these questions by providing us with reasonable, profound insight into our Heavenly Father and into ourselves. The vast family of humankind was created with divine potential and in the image of our Father, who wants His children to thrive, to become like Him, and to return to live with Him. We instinctively desire this same thing; we long for a reunion with a home and family we can’t quite remember.

The idea of God as our Father is not allegorical; it is literal. Our mortal bodies are remarkable scientific wonders and works of art—they are widely diverse, mortal bodies patterned after God’s own glorified, immortal body, as indicated in Genesis 1:26, where God says, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness.” And Moses also wrote of having seen God and talking to Him “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11). The New Testament likewise reveals Jesus Christ to have been begotten by God and created in His image. During His life on earth, Christ’s earthly body—which looked like ours—reflected this parentage. We are like our Father and His Son, whose combined work is to help us achieve eternal, exalted life with Them in heaven.

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We have divine parentage and potential.

Understanding God’s nature is important because it helps us to better understand our potential. Heavenly Father is the all-powerful Creator and Ruler of the universe, but He is also patient, paternal, merciful, and devoted to our eternal progression. “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). God is not abstract or incomprehensible; indeed, we should all strive to come to know Him and His Son in this life.

Building a relationship with God can begin in prayer and, like any meaningful relationship, requires sincere effort. Whether our prayers are said out loud or conveyed silently through the mind and heart, they present opportunities for us to communicate directly with our divine Creator. He hears and answers our prayers, sometimes in very obvious ways and sometimes through impressions, promptings, and feelings of peace. We can better recognize His influence and His voice by reading the scriptures and studying the words of His prophets.

The first and great commandment is this: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matthew 22:37).

Loving God means keeping His commandments, which are given to help us become more like Him. To become like Him, we must make choices by using our God-given agency. Sometimes those choices lead us away from God and keeping His commandments. Through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, we have the opportunity to sincerely repent, a process that does more than anything else to bring us closer to God. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, only to seek after perfection—continually.

While God is a separate person with an exalted body, He is as one with Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost in purpose and in character. We refer to Them collectively as the Godhead. We begin our prayers by addressing God the Father, and then we close in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost bears witness of truth, prompts us to make righteous decisions, and comforts us. God won’t always take away our struggles, but He will make us strong enough to endure them, giving us insight and peace and reminding us that we are not alone. God often works through others; He often works through us. In doing so He reminds us that we are united as His people.

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Why should I follow God’s laws?

Religion at its core promotes the existence of God. As imperfect humans, the immense nature of God can be difficult to grasp.

We shouldn’t forget that God is literally our Father in Heaven. But when we ask, “Why do I need to know God?” or “How is a divine relationship possible?” we can contemplate the answers from a more earthly perspective. John 17:3 states that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Understanding this principle can help us answer these questions.

The Bible recounts that God created “the earth, and all things that are therein” (Nehemiah 9:6). Everything around us is a gift from our Heavenly Father. Just like earthly parents, God generously provides for His children. And just like earthly children, we often take those gifts for granted. Our gratitude only begins to deepen as we strive to better understand how truly blessed we are.

How can I come closer to God?

As our all-knowing Father, God has a greater perspective and understanding than we do. He knows that by facing challenges we can learn and come closer to Him.

As mortals we struggle, we stumble, and we often fail. God does not always coddle us, despite our genuine frustration and tears. But He is mindful of our progress. His watchful eye is always upon us, and through each difficult endeavor, He is there.

It is in that knowledge that we can truly begin to know God. We must humble ourselves in order to entreat our Heavenly Father, to thank Him, to plead with Him—and through that process receive His comfort.

Heavenly Father knows and loves each of us perfectly. Surely He feels sorrow as we wrestle with the challenges common to this life. And He is our greatest supporter, a Father who takes delight in our righteous achievements and reaches out to us in our troubles.