Can I Know God’s will?
Question: “Can I know and learn God’s will for each step of my life?”
Most Christians want to know God’s will so that they may more accurately follow and obey Him. In time, we can learn to know the Lord’s will through the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
God’s will or Our will
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).
God reserves speaking in an audible voice to when He needs to immediately get our attention such as in an emergency. As such, some people may go a lifetime and not hear God speak to them in an audible voice.
Daily pray, “Lord, I surrender all I have and all I am to you and ask that your Holy Spirit would lead, direct, and prompt me in each situation.”
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).
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9).
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-
You make known to me the path of life (Psalm 16:11a).
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:
- 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 to Him and renew your mind, which is your part. Then God will do His part.
God will not reveal His will for your life until you are ready to receive it.
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 really not the primary objective of being a disciple of Jesus. Far more important than looking and searching for God’s will is simply 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.
God does not just want us to find His will; He wants us to find Him. If His will was always in plain view, we would seek it instead of seeking Him.
People often confuse being of service to God with a relationship with God. Nowadays, too many are serving God in pride of what they are doing in their human intelligence rather than humbly in obedience to God’s will. God does not want your service nearly as much as He wants your obedient heart. The greatest service we can offer God is being obedient.
To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).
Our part in finding God’s will
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:12-
Waiting on God’s will
And some of us have a desire to serve God, to have a ministry, to go forth and conquer the world for God. The danger is that we may go forth without God’s direction. Our intention may be great, but if we assume that we know what God’s will is, without first seeking His will, we may be completely out of His will. First and foremost is being a praying Christian who is obedient to God and is attentive to the mission field that we all have, ministering the Word of God to those around us. In the mean time, we are to wait patiently, Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him (Ps 37:7).
Hindrances to discovering God’s will
- Ignorance of God’s Word. If we do not know the Word of God, we will have a difficult time understanding the will of God.
will. It will be hard to hear God if we have already made up our mind.
- Motive. Do we want to know God’s will so we may be obedient to His desires, or do we want to know God’s will so that we can get the best for what we want? Is your will surrendered to God?
- The influence of others: Others negative comment may discourage you from continuing to seek.
- Unforgiveness. Unforgiveness will separate you from God and knowing His will.
- Sin. Unconfessed sin will separate you from God and knowing His will.
- Lacking Faith. If you do not believe God wants you to know or will tell you His will, you will not know His will.
- Idolatry. When we honor something more than God, we hinder our hearing and displease God. What is the most important thing in your life?
- Lastly, what seems as a hindrance to knowing God’s will may be God’s timing for perfection.
Perhaps you have been waiting and waiting with no results. Ask the Lord if the lack of result is due to Satan’s strategies against you. If yes, you need to command it to go in the name of Jesus.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14).
Don’t give up. Don’t look at the situation with fear. He is always with us, even during suffering.
How can you know for sure that you’ve heard Him correctly
- Is it consistent with the Word of God?
- Is it a wise decision as confirmed by mature Christians?
- Do I have genuine peace about it?
- Will this decision honor God?
- Is the voice filled with love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-
control? All of these are fruit of the Spirit.
Romans 12:12 says, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Unfortunately, in this instant world, most of us have not learned how to offer prolonged prayer and periodic fasting. Before you set your own plan in motion, ask God to give you the patience to wait for His answer. God may answer immediately, in a day or two, or it may take months or years. Ask Him to reveal His plan in His time – even if it means you must endure discomfort for a season. Continue seeking His will until you have peace in your heart that He has spoken.
We often say, “I want God’s will”, but then forget
that God’s timing is part of God’s will.
We are told in Proverbs 3:6, in all your ways acknowledge [ask] Him. We are told to ask God in “ALL” of our ways. That even includes the little things of life such as what do I wear today. While considering changing jobs may take many days of prayer and waiting, asking what to wear is a quick request. If God does not either tell us what to wear or point out what to wear, we are free to make our own selection, for He said, Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God (1 John 3:21).
You can't trust someone you don't know. If you're having difficulty trusting the Lord, you may have not learned to know Him and to love Him. To know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to trust Him. To trust Him is to obey Him. To obey Him is to be blessed.
So many times we want to say, “Well, this is the way I think.” Frankly, we make a terrible mistake when we trust our own understanding. That's the problem with many of us: we think we know. Trusting our own understanding becomes a stumbling block. We are not willing to wait upon the Lord; but we want to do it ourselves. There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).
Wait for God's timing. Waiting is trusting that God knows more than we do. God will seldom disclose a long-
As we discover God’s will, He may test our hearts and even break us. The breaking process is uncomfortable, but prepares us for God’s will. This is where we learn to say, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” This process, while painful, releases God’s power and makes us ready to be useful to God.
You may believe that you have God’s plan, but you may also see great obstacles. You may rest assured that God will remove the obstacles as needed.
Surrender is essential to know God’s will. If we are not surrendered to God’s will, we will not be able to understand His will. Sometimes the most difficult thing about surrender is waiting. Surrender means trusting God’s timing as well as His method.
Praying in God’s will
Many experience a hindrance or fear that stops them from praying because they keep asking, “Am I praying within God’s will”. First we should gain guidance through the Word of God. When we find clear guidance that our desire is within God’s will, we can pray with great confidence knowing that that our prayer will be answered because will are asking in alignment with God’s will. But what do we do if we cannot find Biblical guidance for our concern? Don’t fret and worry. If you believe that you are likely in God’s will, then pray fervently with faith believing that God will answer rather than letting your doubt stop your prayers from being answered. You have nothing to fear, God will only answer a prayer that is in His will and timing, and your fervent prayer of faith is likely within God’s will and you will receive.
How to stay in God’s will
When the enemy comes to attack you, he will not attack in an area that is important to you; in an area that you are likely to fight over. He will attack the things that he believes you will not bother to defend. Rather, he will attack those areas he believes you are most willing to compromise. In this area he will establish a stronghold to take over your life. We must be willing not to give up an inch. We should seek to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22).
Sin starts small with a little compromise, a little lustful imagination, but it slowly grows until it becomes our master. Once the devil has established a beachhead in you, he will not stop until he has destroyed you or you destroy his stronghold.
I will not deny my integrity. I will maintain my innocence and never let go of it; my conscience will not reproach me as long as I live (Job 27:5-
One of the devil's tricks is to distract you from the path God has given you. The distraction may not even be a bad thing, but it still interferes with God’s best for you.
We are commanded in Ephesians 6:13 to stand therefore. To stand and not let go when the enemy begins to attack you with financial difficulty, health problems, betrayal, abandonment, rejection, and pain. But remember, the battle belongs to the Lord. Stand firm and don’t give up. In the end, the Lord will win.
Additional examples of determining God’s will
Andrew Womack, a man known to be close to God recommends the following.
“God will lead you in multiple ways, but the number one way to learn how to follow God’s will is putting Him first and following the desires He puts in your heart. After mentally removing all concerns about money, family, friends, and society, ask yourself, “What is my greatest heart’s desire.” If God is first in your heart, then your hearts desire is God’s desire for you. As you seek God, the desire in your heart either increases or decreases. If they decrease, they are not of God, but if they keep increasing, they are of God.”
Every time you face a decision, God is speaking to you and giving direction. Often God will guide you by the peace in your heart. We need to be still and follow the peace in our heart. And the peace of God, … will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
However, this process will only work if God is first in your life. If He is not, then your desires will not be from God but from yourself. Unfortunately, many that have put God first do not follow their heart but let conventional wisdom dominate them.
George Muller, a man known as a great prayer warrior gave the following for determining God’s will.
- Get your heart in such a state that it has no will of its own.
- Do not leave the results to feeling or impression.
- Seek the will of God through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
- Ask God in prayer to reveal His will to you.
- Through prayer, the study of the Word and reflection, come to a deliberate judgment. If your mind is at peace after petitioning two or three more times, proceed.
God only promises to guide the humble (Psalm 25:9), those who commit all their ways to Him (Proverbs 3:5, 6), and love Him (Romans 8:28). The true friends of Jesus are those who do what he commands (John 15:15). God does not reveal His will to those who will not obey, to those who doubt that God will guide them (James 1:5), those who are trying to manipulate God, and those who have wrong motives (James 4:3).
Regardless of how God may speak to you, it should be accompanied by a strong assurance in your spirit and with a peace in your heart and mind that God has spoken.
If you have followed the above, humbly coming to God with a pure heart, waiting and waiting in silence to hear Him, you may talk to God about your concern. “God, I have sought Your will, but have not heard from You. This is what seems best to me to do. If this is wrong, please let the Holy Spirit check me.” This can be an effective approach, but be sure not to rush God.
What if I have already missed the will of God
If you are going in the wrong direction, the first step is to stop, acknowledge your mistake, repent, and move into God’s will. We cannot change the past, but we can learn from our mistakes and start afresh. While there may be consequences for our errors, still God knew how your life would play out before you were even born. He knew what mistakes you would make, and still, in His love, He had a plan to turn your tragedy into triumph.
God in a Box
We by nature strive to understand, to categorize, to search for the formula that provides what we seek, and that includes a formula to knowing and categorizing God’s will. But the simple truth is that God’s ways are beyond our capacity to understand and to formulate rules that will always provide insight into God’s exact will and timing. We can develop general guidelines and we should ask in prayer and read His Word, but the final answer is always the same, we come to God in trust, that His will, in His timing, is what is best for us and for others. We continue to trust God when we do not understand, when what is happening or not happening appears for all purposes to be wrong. We cannot put God in a box, but we must always trust and obey God.
The secret to God’s will is in seeking it with all our heart, in trusting that God is in control even when it makes no sense, being surrendered to God, and receiving it by faith. The greatest service we can ever perform is knowing God’s will and being obedient to it.
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