How Can I Know God’s Will? – Five Ways To Find God’s Will For Your Life
How can I know God’s will for my life?
This is one of the most common and most important questions believers should ask. Of course, not all believers ask this question. Sometimes we instead seek our will and then pray for God to bless it. We see this attitude in James 4.
James 4:13-17 – Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
The people in question make their plans without considering God’s will. They use their own logic and wisdom to plan out their future. Perhaps, after they have a plan they will ask God to bless it. But that is not sure, and it most definitely is not enough.
Each of us at all times in every area of our life say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” Seeking God’s will in decisions should be a lifestyle. By doing it again and again, it should become second nature.
We should always seek God’s will for our lives.
But how can we know God’s will?
God does have a will for your life. And He wants you to find it. He did not leave us blind, to fend for ourselves. At every step, He always gives us the resources we need to follow His will.
We will look at five methods for discerning God’s will.
The Word –
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
The primary way God leads us is through Scripture. It is His revealed will. In it, He gives both positive and negative instructions, telling us things we should do and things we should not do. Every search to know God’s will should start in Scripture.
There are about 1050 commands in the New Testament alone, covering almost every aspect of life including marriage, family, church life, finances, attitudes, thought life, conflict resolution, speech, sex, business, and much more.
I went to Moody Bible Institute and majored in Biblical Studies. Many people ask me, “why would you major in the Bible?” I answer them that the Bible is the most practical subject I could study. It influences every aspect of my life and I use the things I learn every day.
To know God’s will, we need to build up our knowledge of the Bible through Bible study. Over the course of studying by yourself daily and with weekly groups you will be able to quickly remember and find passages on a wide array of topics. But knowing God’s will also requires that when you face a decision, you intentionally open the Bible to seek wisdom from its pages.
The Bible is a blueprint functioning as a life map. It doesn’t directly answer every single question you have (though it does answer many), but it provides a structure with boundaries to guide your decision making within God’s framework.
Tip – One of my favorite tools for finding out what the Bible says about a specific topic is openbible.info. Put in your chosen topic and it will list verses ranked by relevancy.
James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
God wants you to know His will. And He also wants you to ask Him what it is. There will be many times in your life that you don’t know what to do. You will face crisis, temptations, trials, decisions, stress, and an uncertain future.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
In these times of indecision, do not be hasty. Slow down. Step back. Quiet down. And pray. Ask God for wisdom.
After the restoration of Judah from the Babylonian captivity, Ezra heard some terrible news. The people had started intermarrying. He was afraid that this new rebellion would bring about God’s judgment on the recently restored nation. In his grief, he collapsed, ripped his clothes and tearing hair out of his beard. Ezra was a man completely distraught. For the better part of a day, he did not get up. He was grieving. Finally, he was ready to take action. He rose from his self-abasement. Then what?
Ezra 9:5 – Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed.
See that? Ezra rose up. He was read to take action to deal with this situation. But what was his first action? Falling down again, this time to pray. He didn’t rush off to solve the problem himself. He didn’t storm out of there and start rebuking the people who had sinned. He sought God’s will.
Next time you face a decision and you don’t know what to do, pray these simple words, “God show me your way.” If you are sincere in seeking Him, then He will answer.
Godly Council –
Proverbs 24:6 – For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Asking counsel is mentioned throughout Scripture (Proverbs 12:15, 11:14). Two are stronger than one. When making a decision we may not see all of the facts ourselves. Or we may be biased and subjective. It could be that since we are in the middle of a situation, our emotions are clouded and our logic is faulty.
Therefore we should ask mature believers to give us advice on important issues. Their experience and wisdom can reveal things that we do not see.
According to Jeremiah, our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). We may deceive ourselves into thinking a certain course of action is good when it is sinful. This is another reason we should ask the opinion of godly believers before making big decisions.
Note that we should ask the opinion of godly believers. The counsel you receive is only as good as the person giving it to you. You will receive counsel based on the worldview of the one you ask. If you ask an atheist who believes in evolution counsel on marriage, family, or career issues you will receive vastly different advice than if you ask a Bible-believing follower of Jesus.
So you must be careful who you ask advice from.
Proverbs 13:20 – He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
The Bible says that the “fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.'” If you listen to the counsel of those who do not believe in Jesus, you will be led astray. When you ask for counsel on a moral issue, ask people who believe in God’s standards.
If you are asking a math question, a tax question, or geography question, go ahead and ask an expert, even if he is not a believer. But on any issue that touches moral or spiritual things, get counsel from believers.
And be on guard against seeking counsel only from “easy” Christians whom you know will agree with you. Ask mentors who will not be afraid to give you the unvarnished truth.
Proverbs 16:9 – In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Circumstances is the only method mentioned which functions solely as a negative indicator. That means that circumstances are a way that God will tell us not to pursue a specific course of action. But circumstances, no matter how amazing they may be, are not enough to show us that we should do something.
I once heard of a person who woke up at 7:47 in the morning. He instantly thought, “God is telling me to take a 747 jet to the mission field.” This is not the best way to make decisions.
What if a man is at a restaurant and drops a notebook on the ground. A girl picks it up and they lock eyes. They are the same color! Then they talk and they attended the same university! What is more, they have the same birthday! It is a sign right? Surely, God destined these people to be together?
Circumstances are primarily a negative indicator. If you are seeking God’s will with all of the other ways then He uses circumstances to shut the door. It may be a failed interview or exam. It may be a buyer who does not sign on your house.
I knew a person who lived abroad working to share the gospel. He started courting a lady in the country he served. The very same day his visa was canceled and he had to leave. He could not get in the country and she could not easily get out. They had prayed for God’s will. They had looked at Scripture. They had expressed willingness to do whatever God led them to do. Through this way God shut the door on this relationship.
We see God working through circumstances in Acts 16:7 – Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.
When you look at Scripture and pray and ask godly counsel and it is all pointing in one direction, you can start moving. But at the same time ask God to use circumstances to close the door if it is not from Him. And He will.
Peace (Or Christian Freedom) –
John 14:26-27 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
This method is the most subjective of the five mentioned here. Why? It is easy for us to convince ourselves of the validity of a course of action. But the assumption is that you are genuinely seeking after God’s will. If you are, then His Spirit will lead you in conjunction with the other methods, giving you peace or alternatively convicting you.
Like circumstances, it often functions as a negative indicator. If after prayer and reading Scripture you don’t feel at peace with a course of action, it could be a warning that you should not do it.
Personally, though most authors call this method “peace,” I prefer to call the fifth method “Christian freedom.” Why? I believe that if you actively seek God in all of the ways mentioned above and get a green light to proceed then (using the mind that God gave you) you should feel free to go forward. Within the boundaries of Scripture, God gives us the ability to choose.
He gives different believers different gifts and personalities. When you choose a career, you should look at Scripture and make sure that it doesn’t violate any Biblical principles and that you will be able to minister for God in that field. You should pray. You should seek counsel. Then if all are green lights, you can go forward with peace while still giving God room to close a door if He sees fit.
So we have looked at the question, “how can I know the will of God?”
He has given you what you need. Make it a lifestyle to use all five of these methods and the light from God will lead you each step of the way.
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