The idea of seeking the will of God has three broad meanings when we talk about it. (1) We often mean — what is God’s will for my life? (2) Or, we mean what is God’s will in a particular situation, one with a moral dilemma? (3) But, in Scripture, the will of the Lord typically has its first meaning around the idea of God’s overall purposes and work in the world.
I highly recommend the book Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning Yourself With His Will by Terry Looper. His book contains many insights about discerning God’s will from an experienced and wise Christian man. I was privileged to read an early copy of the manuscript and know his book will be a blessing to you.
God’s will for my life is definitely important, but it receives the least amount of emphasis of these three ideas in Scripture. So, our first job is always to be committed to what we know through Scripture that God has planned and is doing in the world through Jesus Christ.
Whether it is in the sense of our vocations and overall patterns of work and service, or whether it means specific guidance in a certain situation, we all want to know God’s will. Discerning God’s will in either of these related ways revolves around the search for wisdom. The Bible contains wisdom for living, and the Scriptures should be the first place we go to seek God’s will. I’d like to share six different ways you can develop a discerning mind and heart in order to find God’s will.
6 Ways to Seek the Will of God
Seek God’s will in the Scriptures.
James 3:17: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.”
The Scriptures provide the standard for what is morally right and wrong. If one of your options goes against Scripture, don’t do it. Don’t lie or cheat. Don’t steal or break your marriage vows. Love God more than you love success or wealth. On many issues, the Scriptures are quite clear.
Seek the will of God through the moving and illumination of the Spirit through corporate worship.
Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” The Christian life is meant to be lived with other believers with whom you read the Scriptures, pray, and worship God. The Spirit moves powerfully in times of corporate worship. Pay attention!
Seek the Lord’s will in the guidance of those who are wise.
Proverbs 19:20: “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days.”
Proverbs 11:14: “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”
It is wise to seek the advice and insight of believers you respect. I will caution you, though, to make sure you go to a good source. Look at his life, family, and walk with Lord. Does her life show wisdom and a commitment to Christ? Be honest with your mentor, and be willing to hear what you might not want to hear.
Seek God’s will through specific and focused times of prayer; which, among other things, means the cultivation of silence and scriptural reflections.
James 4:2b: “You do not have because you do not ask.” Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
Pray. Be still. Meditate on God’s word. Then pray again.
King Solomon asked God for wisdom, and it was granted to him. Have you asked for wisdom and guidance? Have you meditated on the Scriptures? Have you committed the specific issue or concern to the Lord in prayer? I’m not promising that the answer will be what you want it to be, but the Scriptures command us to bring those requests to God with humble and sincere hearts (Philippians 4:4-9).
Seek the will of God through a general habit of prayer.
A habit of prayer makes one attentive to the way God speaks in the routines of life. Also observe his work in the world, including both the creation itself and his specific actions through people doing his mission in the world.
Jesus, God in the flesh, had a habit of prayer. His disciples noticed and asked him to teach them to pray. You get my point, and you’ve probably heard it before. If the Son of God prayed, so should you. Early in my career when Sue and I had several little children, I thought I was too busy to pray. The Lord soon made it clear to me that I was too busy not to pray. Life needs the peace and focus that prayer brings. And we need the guidance and direction for decision-making that come through prayer.
Seek the Lord’s will through the exercise of faith, which involves a use of the will, based upon all that has been learned from all the sources of guidance mentioned above.
Sometimes, you will not get a clear answer. In the end, if the decision doesn’t conflict with the Scriptures, if you’ve sought the guidance of the Spirit in corporate worship, if you have a daily habit of prayer and have committed this very issue to God in focused prayer, and the wise voices in your life have spoken to the decision, take a step of faith.
Again, for more on this topic, I recommend the book Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning Yourself With His Will by Terry Looper.
- Servant Leadership: Know God’s Will and Do It
- James 1: Christian Wisdom Starts with Christ
- Learning Discernment: Sluggards Need Not Apply
Robert B. Sloan is the president of Houston Baptist University. Robert and his wife Sue have 7 married children and more than 20 young grandchildren. He is also the author of a fantasy series about an orphan named Hamelin Stoop. You can contact Dr. Sloan at this page.
Blog edited by Joannah Buffington