How can  I know God’s will and guidance?

Question: “How can I know what God’s will and guidance is for me?”

Bible Answers

The Bible only promises two ways that God will guide us - by His Spirit and by His Word.  And to be affective, we really need both.  God speaks to us in many ways, but they are all classified as either indirect guidance or direct guidance.

Indirect guidance

In the case of indirect guidance, God guides His people from ‘behind the scenes’. In His sovereign way, God designs circumstances in all things to move His people along the path he has planned for them.  He turns our hearts, He guides us, He directs us, He pushes us, and He arranges circumstances so that His desired plan can be accomplished in our lives.

This ‘behind the scenes’ guidance is only visible to us after the event, as we look back on what God has done for us. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs (Isaiah 58:11).  

God guides us along the path in ways that are quite beyond our understanding.  In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9).  God uses indirect guidance more frequently than direct guidance in disseminating His will.

Direct guidance

The first and most authoritative way God directly guides us is through His Word.  The second most common way is through the inner voice, thoughts, and ideas, then less often through visions, images, dreams, and an audible voice.

The Bible provides specific directions regarding what to do and what not to do. God will normally not answer a prayer about His will that is already disclosed in His Word.  Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psalm 119:105).  

God leads through: discernment, as our mind becomes more like His mind and as we renew our mind in His Word. Through the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit, the still small inner voice, we learn His directions and gain His inner assurance of peace.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15).

God’s will or Our will

Unfortunately, even sincere Christians can mistake their own thoughts and desires for spiritual guidance.  How do we know?  First, the witness from the Holy Spirit will always agree with the Word of God.  We can only know if the thought conforms to the Word of God if we have hidden the Word in our hearts.  The Holy Spirit may recall scripture to mind to guide us.  Second, receiving God’s guidance depends on our first being surrendered to God’s will. Otherwise, we hear our will and not God’s will. Third, a daily prayer life will open us to become more sensitive to God’s will. Praying is building a relationship with our Lord, and as our relationship builds, so does our understanding of what God wants of us.  Fourth, we should always ask the Lord to confirm His will.

The Lord will guide you always (Isaiah 58:11).

Faith and timing

God does not speak to us when we want, but when He wants. Along with having complete faith and trust in God’s provision for us, we need to also have the same faith and trust in God’s timing for our lives.  

God wants you to know His will

you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2b).

God has a plan for your life

For I know the plans I have for you,’ declared the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  Receive it by faith.

What is the secret to discovering God’s will

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).  If you set your sights on His kingdom and make that your priority, you will fine many of your questions about God’s will in your life will become clear.  …and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33b). A person can be committed to the kingdom of God if the person is committed to God in love, and if God is first in their lives.

Preparing yourself for God’s will

In Romans 12:1–2, we find some prerequisites for God’s guidance: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Like all of God’s promises, this verse contains a promise that is based on conditions. The promise is that you can know the perfect will of God. The conditions are that: one, you must present (surrender) yourself to Him as a living sacrifice; two, you must not be conformed to this world; and three, you must be transformed by the renewing of your mind (by the Word of God).  Notice the order. First, you surrender and renew your mind, that is your part. Then God will do His part; guide you in His perfect will.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). One of the clearest ways to discover God’s will is in His Scripture.

What is more important than God’s will

Seeking God’s will is not the primary objective of being a disciple of Jesus.  Far more important than looking and searching for God’s will is simply knowing and trusting God. Trusting God in love is the foundation of Christian life, from which everything else will flow.  His ultimate desire is that you and I would know Him more deeply as we trust Him more completely.

Next Section: Does God have different types of will?

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