This is the age old question. How do I determine what God’s will is? Without hearing God in an audible voice or having him show up in the flesh, is there a way to know what direction He would have for me in a situation, circumstance or major decision in my life? In fact, if one claims to hear an audible voice or see Him in the flesh, then definitely would be calling our office anyway! So how does one go about discerning this?
For me, God speaks through many different ways and arenas. In fact, the more of these areas that God uses to begin speaking, the more likely I hear more clearly. If there is consensus in several of these formats and are particularly unrelated to one another, this can bring more reassurance that there is a master plan with a Sovereign God behind it. After, a step of faith rather blind faith is an easier task.
Biblical Principles – God’s word is timeless and alive. Going straight to the Bible to discover what God has already said about this particular thing is a good and necessary first step. If it is already clear in scripture, one would already know what God’s will is on the topic. If your decision doesn’t have specific references in verses, there are other more nonspecific teachings that might apply. Regardless, time spent in active research is always a good first step.
Pastoral Teaching – When you are under a particular leader of God, you are under a protective umbrella of guidance. God can speak through this shepherd, knowing your particular area of need. Again, the Word of God is actively alive today. You can sit through a particular sermon and come out with a distinct message that was quickened in your heart through the Holy Spirit where, maybe, the next person has a totally different impression. Is there a particular theme that you have been hearing through your time spent listening to your pastoral teaching that applies to your situation that you are trying to make a decision about?
Personal Time Spent With God – If you don’t already have a carved in time where you are spending personal time with God, this would be a good time to start. During this time, you are reading through a particular part of scripture each day. Others might spend time in prayer and/or journaling. What is sometimes missed, however, is quiet meditation. Sitting quietly reflecting on what you read allows God’s still, small voice to prompt you. We, westerners, aren’t particularly good at this. Our culture doesn’t value quiet, unproductive time. In times of searching, however, it is vital. Fasting during this time can heighten this experience as well. Are their themes in scripture that you are reading as it applies to your decision that have been coming in the natural course of the verses that you are reading? Is the Holy Spirit prompting a reoccurring message during your time of quiet reflection?
Wise Counsel – God can use other people to speak a truth to you. Pray about who those one or two people would be before going. Any more than two sometimes becomes confusing if you hear seemingly conflicting information. Obviously, this person is someone that wouldn’t have any skin in the game with your decision as that may bias their response. It would also be helpful if this particular person has some information in the area in which is under consideration. Typically you would have a level of respect for this person both personally and/or professionally. Pray about your time with this person before going, asking God to speak to you through your time with them.
Personal Attributes – Knowing yourself well is also very helpful. What are your spiritual gift sets, your personality types, and your temperament strengths and weaknesses. Knowing who and how God made you in reference to this particular area of discernment might begin to help you understand what you are more prepared to do. Life preparation can also form and mold us for particular life tasks and directions. What has God made you to do particularly in this decision?
Circumstances – The rational and reason people love this one. What makes reasonable sense in this particular area? What doors are opening? What doors are closing? Even though sometimes God doesn’t make sense especially to our finite ability to see a broad picture, it is always helpful to use this to confirm or reject any of the other five areas to see if it, too, is lining up.
Have you found a sense of peace, knowing that you are not alone when you are making this decision? When several areas begin presenting a pretty consistent theme. take a step in faith!
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
If you are searching for God with everything, you will find Him. He wants you to know his direction! Please call to speak with a counselor or life coach if you need help in walking through this process.