How to Know God's Will

6 principles to help you make big decisions

I grow as much from seeking God's will as from making the decision. Photo by Guy Gerrard

How do you pick who to marry? Or decide if you should take a new job?
 
Plus if you have a relationship with God, you probably want to know what God thinks about your decisions.

Many times I long for God to write His will on the wall or speak to me with an audible voice. But I've learned that I grow as much from seeking God's will as from making the decision.

Ancient Question

How to know God's will is an ancient question. Over 3,000 years ago, the Israelites were overwhelming Moses by coming to him "to seek God's will" (Exodus 18:15, New International Version).

Some parts of God's will are very clearly spelled out in the Bible like giving thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18), avoiding sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and doing good (1 Peter 2:15).

But whether or not this is a good time to buy a house? I've looked and was disappointed to discover it is just not written in the Bible.

Principles to Live By

I have learned six principles to guide us as we seek God's will in any situation (adapted from "Getting a Grip on Guidance," by Keith Davy, a Campus Crusade staff member).

These principles are meant to be used together. As you spend time working through your decision, make a decision based on the whole picture. It can be dangerous to make a decision on one principle you feel strongly about while ignoring the other 5.

1)  Surrender your attitude and personal desires.

Think through why you would want to make a certain choice. Are your desires in alignment with God's desires?

As German evangelist George Muller said, "Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord's will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is."

2) Meditate on God's Word.

When you make a decision, it should line up with, or at least not contradict, what God has already said through the Bible. There are no hidden answers in the Bible, but guidelines and truths - an explanation of who God is -- that can help you make decisions.

3) Spend focused time in prayer.

God tells us "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6, NIV). As you ask God what to do, write down the sense of direction you get from Him over time.

4) Seek other people's opinions.

Find mature, dedicated Christians and ask them what they think you should do. The opinions you receive may conflict, but they should give you another perspective to think about.

Remember, you are still responsible for the decision you make. Seeking advice is wise, but you still need to work through the other principles. Do not let someone else make your decision for you.

5) Consider your circumstances.

God can open and close opportunities. God -- not circumstances -- should guide your decision-making. But God may use events in your life to point you in a certain direction.

6) Think through your decision logically.

God's Spirit can direct your mind and reasoning. Sometimes Christians can want to follow God's will so badly, they forget to think the decision through. Create a list with all of your options and write out the benefits and drawbacks to each.

Look At the Big Picture

Try journaling as you work through each of these 6 principles and look for clarity to emerge. If you are still confused, it may be that you need to wait before making a decision and continue to think through these guidelines.

But if all 6 principles are pointing in the same direction, prayerfully move forward, trusting God to guide you as you go.

Remember God is Still in Control

Nothing you decide will surprise God. Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

We get to know God better when we seek to do what is right. But your relationship with God is secure if you are a Christian.

Paul wrote it this way, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-36).

So take a deep breath.  Work through the six principles and remind yourself that while your decisions matter to God, God is still in control.