I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Sometimes in life we have to make big decisions. Decisions such as: Where should I go to college? What career should I choose? What house should I buy? Whom should I marry?
Nobody wants to make a bad decision, especially when it comes to a big decision that could have lasting effects on our life. It’s at times like these that many people ask, “What does God want me to do? What is God's will on this matter?”
These are good questions to ask. When I had to make some important decisions in my life, I agonized over these questions for months or even years because I didn’t want to mess up! I wanted to make the right choice. But how could I know which one to choose? What if I made bad choice?
If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone. Gideon struggled with knowing God’s will, even after God told him what to do. He famously tested God by putting out a fleece two times (Judges 6). Things turned out well for Gideon and, thanks to his example, many Christians still "put out fleeces" when they are trying discern God’s will on a particular matter. But many Christians have also learned from experience that “fleeces” are neither the best nor the most mature way to know God’s will.
The great preacher George Mueller also struggled with this issue, and over time he came up with several key points that he found to be helpful when seeking God's will. Years later, the great Adventist preacher Morris Venden decided to write a short book on this subject by using Mueller’s points as its basis. Venden himself had gone through his own trials of tribulations when seeking God's will, and his stories about it are actually quite humorous. He added one more point to Mueller’s list which really helps to round it out. So here are those points, eight steps to take when you are wanting to know God’s will.
- Have no will of your of your own on the given matter. This doesn't mean that you don't have a preference. But be willing to go in whatever direction that God tells you.
- Don't go simply by feeling. Venden recommends that you don't go by any single step in this process. But going by feelings alone can be especially dangerous when you are making a decision. Don't do it!
- Study God’s Word. See Psalm 119:105. God guides us with the principles in Scripture, even if Scripture does not specifically address the decision you are making. By studying God's Word we get to know Him better. And if we want to know God's will, we must first get to know God.
- Consider providential circumstances. See Deuteronomy 2:8. Look at how God has worked in your life in the past. Then consider how that pattern fits into where you are now.
- Consult with godly friends. See Proverbs 11:14 and Psalm 1:1. If you want to know God's will, don't neglect the advice of godly people. Now, don't make your decision entirely on their advice (or any single step in this process). But you should definitely consider what they have to say.
- Ask God, in prayer, to reveal His will. See James 1:5. That's right. You can ask God to show you His will.
- Make a decision! That's right. After you have prayerfully weighed the evidence from the six previous steps, make a decision. Then tell God your decision.
- Proceed with your decision. But be sure to invite God to stop you if you have missed any of his signals along the way. It's possible that God will "close the door" on your decision at this point. If this happens, recognize that this is part of the process of knowing God's will.
So there you go. Eight steps for knowing God's will. Try these out the next time you are struggling with a big decision.
Perhaps we can explore this topic further in future blog posts. If you would like to read more about this, check out Morris Venden's book How to Know God's Will in Your Life.