Many people have written about determining the will of God, and my goal here is not to simply add to those volumes. Instead, here are some simple steps that I hope will counter some wrong understandings and provide you some basic instruction.
- Recognize that knowing the will of God really isn’t that complicated. To put it simply, the Bible already tells us much about how we’re to live. We’re to love God will all our being, love our neighbors as ourselves, and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 22:34-40, 28:18-20). If we get these things right, we won’t wrestle as much with the unknown details.
- Read the Bible and pray consistently. I know that sounds like a Sunday school answer, but Sunday school answers aren’t always so bad. Too many people turn to the Bible and prayer only when they suddenly need to know God’s will. Doing that is like trying to clearly hear and understand the voice of one with whom you haven’t had a conversation in a long time. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.
- Walk in holiness; make righteous choices. This point’s really quite simple. We’re called to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). If we aren’t being faithful to what is clearly revealed in scripture, why should God trust us with information about the unknown? Why should He think we will follow Him if He does show us His will?
- Be faithfully involved in a local church. God designed us to be in relationship with other people (Gen. 2:18). He creates His local church in such a way that all of us need each other (1 Cor. 12:12-31). We learn from each other. We help each other. We correct and encourage each other. To try to determine God’s will as a loner is a mistake.
- Look at needs around you. Sometimes, trying to determine God’s will for our life turns us inward. All we think about is, “God, what do you want for me?” The question is not entirely a bad one, but it’s a dangerous one. We usually don’t need any more inclination toward ourselves. Instead, take a look around at your community. See a non-believing world of billions of people who have no access to the gospel. Then ask, “God, what would you have me do to help spread your message and your glory to my neighbors and the nations?”
- In the context of local church fellowship, know your giftedness. God has given all of us spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10). He’s also sovereign over our struggles, experiences, pain, and rejoicing; thus, He can use our history and our present to glorify Himself. Work with your church leaders to think about and understand all that God has created in you – and then pray, “Lord, use me however You wish.”
- Take steps in the right direction. Kevin DeYoung once made this point this way, “Just do something!” We can spend months and years stymied while we seek certainty in God’s will, or we can do today something we know any Christian is supposed to do today. If we’re faithful over the known things today, we might just discover that the unknown things take care of themselves.
What would you add to this list?