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How Can I Know What God's Will Is?

We sometimes pray for God's will to be done in a matter, but can we actually discern what His will is?  Wouldn't this enable us to pray much more specifically?  Also, wouldn't we be more likely to walk daily in His steps? The Bible tells us how we can indeed know God's will:

1) Seek God's Mind

The first step in discerning God's will is to seek it.  Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing, and perfect will." If we renew our minds, we will be able to discern God's will, but how can we renew our minds?  Here are some critical ways that we can renew our minds:

 - Prayer--We should pray and tell God that we're seeking His will, and ask Him to reveal it to us.  We should pray in all things, but above all, when we need to know God's will.  (Philippians 4:6)

 - Bible Study--We should study His word, because this is the way God communicates information back to us today.  If we ask a question, we need to listen for the answer.  (Psalm 119:130)

 - Research--We should research the situation using extra-biblical sources, to discover helpful practical information.  Part of God's answer might well include some legwork on our part.  (Proverbs 18:15)

 - Common Sense--We should apply our own God-given common sense to the situation at hand.  God probably doesn't want us to fly, so we shouldn't try it by jumping off the roof.

2) Make a Decision

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  We need to listen to God, but also take action and make a decision.  Here is some help:

 - Godly Counsel--We need to seek Godly counsel from others whose judgment is proven and trustworthy.  If I'm seeking God's will concerning a job change, I would do well to consult with my Christian brothers who have already been through this transition.  (Proverbs 15:22)

 - Motivation--We need to make sure that the decision we're making is motivated by the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes we try to fool ourselves by letting our pride and preferences guide us.

 - Willingness--We must be willing to act and follow through on what we discern.  This includes suffering the consequences of our decision, which are sometimes unforeseen.  (Luke 9:23)

 - Faith--Finally, we must make the decision and step out in faith.  Just do it!

3) Watch for Confirmation

1 John 3:21 says, "If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God."  We need to double-check and confirm our decision as follows:

 - Spiritual Gifts--We need to ensure that this decision is consistent with our spiritual gifts.  If we don't have the gift of evangelism, perhaps we shouldn't be going to the Congo to share the gospel.  (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

 - Circumstances--Are the circumstances of my life conducive for exercising this decision?  This is a tough one, but sometimes the circumstances just aren't right.  Maybe I shouldn't do this thing if the financial burden will be too great (or maybe one with the gift of faith would know when to step out).  (Romans 8:28)

 - Timing--Is the timing right for this thing.  Sometimes we might just have to wait a few years until the time is right.

 - Peace--Do I have inner peace from the Holy Spirit about this decision? (Psalm 143:10)

Summary

To understand God's will, we must pray, study His word, research, and use common sense. We need to examine our motivation, and our willingness, and consider the consequences of our actions. We should seek Godly counsel, boldly step out in faith, and watch for confirmation.

Owen Weber 2009