Finding the will of God for your life can seem tricky, because there are so many decisions that need to be made every single day. You may initially feel overwhelmed, confused, and even discouraged. You may not be sure how to know if you’re really hearing from God, and as your talents and giftings will differ from the person standing next to you, you might not be sure if you’re getting it right.
In addition, you may worry or feel anxious in the beginning. You want to have a sense of purpose for your life, and you are certain that this is connected to finding the will of God for your life. Progress may be slow with several stops and starts, and this is perfectly normal. There absolutely will be trial and error, as you learn to listen to His voice.
You might also wonder if you’ve gone too far in a sinful direction to ever turn around. Be assured that the will of God is to make all things work together for good – even if you’ve made mistakes. It is not His desire to hold things over your head or to make you feel ashamed. He puts your sins as far as the east is from the west when you repent and ask Him to forgive you.
Find the Will of God Every Day
The most basic way to find the will of God is to look for it each and every day. I want to assure you this is simpler than you might think. Start in the morning when you get up. Pray to God to guide your day and trust that He will. Don’t put a lot of thought into it as to whether He will, as doubt will get you nowhere. Don’t strain and use up your energy in this, either. God promises to direct our paths when we seek Him per Proverbs 3:5-6 that says, “trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Then, read a portion of scripture. Don’t fret if you can’t do this first thing in the morning, as all of us have different schedules. Whenever you get a chance, read some of the Bible, and endeavor to find application in your life where possible. Do what you know it says. And go slow. Do not try to do too much at once. You will burn out otherwise.
The key here is to build sustainable growth that will lead to the will of God for your life unfolding before your very eyes. Like any other regime, whether working out or eating right, the goal is not to make drastic changes. Many New Year’s resolutions peter out rather quickly. Focus on going slow and taking step by baby step in the right direction.
Exhaustion is very real, and many a servant of God with good intentions starts out on the path of doing too much and then finds they run out of steam. Understand also that God provides the power and the grace to do whatever it is He is telling you to do. His word can be trusted and yields peaceable fruit.
A Willing Heart
God knows who has a willingness to follow Him. You don’t have to seek to prove this but just must be open to His leading. It is Him who gets the glory through you, and this is done in His power and not yours. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” In addition, His strength is made perfect in our weakness, so it is not uncommon for you to find yourself without the resources you need to live the Christian life. This is so God gets the credit and not you. Otherwise, there would be no testimony.
When you’re open to hearing the will of God, you may notice that you receive confirmation in the form of words spoken through a sermon and in the counsel of a godly friend. For this reason, it is vital to find a Bible-believing church that will steer you in the right direction and that preaches the whole counsel of God. You don’t want to be hearing the words of mere men who preach tradition or politics but only thus saith the Lord.
Godly friends will not be perfect people but are those through whom God may speak, as they have likewise yielded their lives to His leading. Whatever is said must be able to be backed up by scripture and not be mere opinion. Like with Moses, when his heart burned within him when God spoke, you will want the assurance of peace in your soul that God gives as well. This will become easier to recognize over time with practice.
And Their Hearts Burned Within Them
Answering Questions That Are Not in the Bible
What believers often have most trouble with is when there is a specific question that is not in the Bible. For example, when choosing which job to take, what area in which to purchase a home, and who to marry, you cannot simply cite a chapter and verse and go about your merry way. There are any number of directions your life can go, and pivotal choices like these can have a profound affect on your destiny.
When you have sought the will of God in your endeavors, you will often see His hand moving in the form or opened or closed doors. If an opportunity opens, scripture raises no objections, others can see the wisdom in moving forward, and you feel peace, you can begin to walk toward that end. God will often bar the way if you are not meant to pursue something. At first, this may seem to be a daunting process but will get easier over time.
Keep in mind that persecution and difficulty is to be expected and is not necessarily a sign of God’s disapproval. 1 Corinthians 16:9 says, “a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” We know the Apostles all faced great trouble when they followed their calling, but they were nevertheless able to persist. Opposition does not mean a door is closed. Just like when we drive down the highway in a thunderstorm, we don’t turn around just because the route is clouded. We might turn on the fog lights, lower our speed, and be extra careful, but we still know we are headed home and that we’ll eventually reach out destination.
Your talents, gifts, desires, and passions, will often have a way of lining up with the needs of others. If you find yourself able to contribute in a certain capacity and there is a space to serve, you may feel God’s nudge to use your gifts in this manner. Your abilities are not there by mistake and the Bible says in Ephesians 2:10 “for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
The Will of God is to Fear Him and Keep His Commandments
The will of God for each of us is simple but will look differently from one person to the next. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, ‘Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man’.
Fearing God simply means to have a healthy respect for His statues and who He is as God. It is not describing a shaking, quaking frightened way of approaching Him. After all, He is our Father and greets us as He did the Prodigal Son with hugs, kisses, a signet ring, dancing, and a party when we come home.
Keeping His commandments has to do with reading the word of God and following what it says. If He says to forgive, forgive. If His word tells us to share with others, do that. Develop a habit of reading the scriptures every day and applying what you learn.
If you mess up, and you will, just trust in God’s grace for forgiveness and for Him to continue working through you. It isn’t a call to try harder, as the will of God is not accomplished by our own effort. Zechariah 4:6b says, “not by might nor by power, but My Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” Trust and rest in Him lest you grow weary and discouraged otherwise.
Don’t worry that you have to do everything at once – walking in the will of God is usually a process. It is generally revealed progressively to you once you become a child of God, which brings us to our next point.
The Will of God is That You Would Be Saved
What does it mean to be saved? It means that apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ, there is no salvation. When mankind fell after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they passed imperfection down to all of us. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Also, that there is no one righteous – no not one.
Because of our sin and our inability to redeem ourselves, Jesus came to die on a cross to pay for the sins of mankind. All that is required is that we believe that He was the Son of God, that He died on the cross and was resurrected three days later. The Bible says in Romans 10:10 that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. If you’ve ever disrespected your parents, stolen anything, told a lie, coveted, or broken any other of the ten commandments, you have sinned. That sin separates you from God.
Acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness and pray this prayer: “Dear God, I ask you to forgive me of my sins and to be my Savior. I believe you died and were resurrected in order to pay for my sin. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” Your prayer need not be fancy, as the Bible says that it is by grace you are saved through faith. It is the faith that saves you, and this salvation is for all eternity. Now, on to the will of God after that point.
The very first thing a believer is to do is to be baptized, though this, in and of itself, does not save. Baptism is symbolic of death to the old self and resurrection unto the new and is a demonstration that you have been born again. As long as health allows, this is the first step of obedience to God in a public declaration of salvation.
A new Christian will often experience a great deal of confusion mingled with their ambition to serve God. He or she may have left the world behind but will not yet know how to walk in His ways. There may be a tendency to throw everything away, but be assured that the work of salvation has already been done for you. Like with renovating a house, the work can be painful but is usually done one thing at a time and not all at once. Be patient and go with Him as He guides.
Am I Too Sinful to Do the Will of God?
It’s a bit inaccurate to say you have to find God’s will. Rather, you have to be willing for it to be revealed to you. This is done step by step, one inch at a time. And so, if your life has been riddled with sin in the past or even recently, do not worry that God cannot use you. In fact, He can show redemption – a beautiful message that many people are genuinely in need of. Do not give up hope. It is precisely for people like you and me that Jesus came to die.
Remember Rahab. She was a prostitute and was called upon the help the Israelites to settle the land promised to them. She is listed in the book of Hebrews as an example of trust in God in what is often referred to as the Hall of Fame of Faith. There was the woman caught in adultery who was forgiven, and the Samaritan woman who was with a man not her own was still used to preach to an entire city, leading many to Jesus. The scripture is replete with case after case of less-than-perfect people who made a real and lasting difference when they yielded themselves to God.
Other Basics on Following the Will of God
Be patient with yourself. You will not know everything at once nor even as you go on. The Bible says that His word is a lamp to your feet, and so, at any given time, not much more than the space for your foot to tread is ever revealed to you. You may have a grand sense of something He wants done, a knowing that He is to accomplish something in a particular direction, from time to time, but in general, trust is built by knowing that He is guiding while you are unable to see.
Faith is a very important part of this, and its development is forged in the uncertainties you face in life. Your path will often appear impossible as with the Israelites when they fled the Egyptian army. And yet, the Red Sea was opened when they were commanded to go forward. It would have seemed they were going to their deaths, and yet God had a solution. The result is that trust will grow. Like with the Apostles who had forgotten the miracle of the fish and the loaves, you too may forget.
For this reason, it is good to keep a journal to remember that from whence you came. The Israelites were to set up stones of remembrance when they had crossed the Jordan. This is sometimes referred to as raising an Ebenezer which means stone of help and is an acknowledgement of the assistance they received from the Lord. The stones of testimony were to be a demonstration to future generations that the people had been delivered of God Almighty, precisely because people are prone to forget. Recalling the times when God has come through for us in the past can help allay fears when we come up against unassailable circumstances again in the future.
You may not realize when you first set out that this will be a massive test of your faith. And even here, the answer does not lie with you. Faith is a gift from God and can only be received. The trials you face will grow and stretch your faith, and you may find yourself wracked with fear. This is perfectly normal. Faith does not develop in the spaces where everything is safe and seemingly under control. The man in scripture who prayed “help my unbelief” was wise in not hiding his state and in asking God to increase his faith. It is only God who can do so, and this is not achieved by trying harder.
Advanced Principles on Finding the Will of God
It is not uncommon that people will not understand your mission. If you are doing something that seems risky or that lacks resources, it is very likely that you will encounter those who tell you that you are going in the wrong direction. They are often well-meaning. There is nothing wrong with this. People who are looking out for your best interests are trying to be good friends.
So how do you know when this is a word you should listen to or not? Again, look for the open doors, the opportunities, and the nudges from God. When I first started out on my journey to do foster care, for example, not everyone was on board. The process was lengthy, and the potential pitfalls were many. Still, I could not ignore that God provided the finances that were beyond our reach initially, the strength, the need, and the unquenchable push toward it that I simply could not ignore. We also had the space and the capacity to do so. And when it was time to close our home, we also knew just as strongly.
Another advanced principle is that as you get used to trusting God and listening to His voice, an open door will not always be one that you should walk through. Now, I know I just listed open doors as a clear sign that God is directing you, and it definitely is. As you show yourself trustworthy to God, He may trust you to turn down invitations that remain wide open. This usually does not happen right away.
This becomes apparent over time when you are quick to respond to God’s inner nudge and sense of prevailing peace or lack thereof. When you have the ability to do something but can be trusted to walk away if you do not feel God’s approval, He can direct you without all of these external means of validation. Keep in mind that it is always okay to pray for confirmation despite what anybody says. Gideon asked God to use his fleece to validate that he had heard Him correctly.
After all, a great deal of this will be trial and error, and you want to be sure. James 1:5 says, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” Jesus also says to ask and that you will receive.
It’s also vital that you not over-spiritualize your life. Understand that God will guide you, but you still have your life to lead. Do not agonize over the minute details of your life. The larger decisions, such as finances, whom to marry, where to work, and how to minister are where He tends to focus. It does not mean that He won’t have instructions on smaller things, but just remember that you still have earthly duties to complete each day simply a part of just being a living human being. Don’t stress yourself out unnecessarily by worrying about the will of God in an obsessional way.
Not everything will be under the purview of spirituality. Be moderate in all things – even spiritual things. Now, I know that may be an unpopular view, but the scripture warns against austerity, saying that it appears wise but is not.
Lastly, always remember to rest. Observe periods of inactivity. This is also an extremely important part of the will of God, as you do not want to become weary in well doing. Having fun is a crucial as well. You need to restore and refresh yourself at intervals, and the Bible says that a merry heart does good like a medicine. Above all, do not rush it and go day by day, remembering that the true goal is closeness with your Father who loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you.
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About the Author
Rosa A. Hopkins has hosted radio shows on 11 Christian stations, is a writer of gospel songs, has promoted Heartbeat legislation, and is a singer and songwriter. Her writings can also be found on her Facebook page. Join 18,000 other readers here.
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