If you have ever made a big decision and talked to your friends, family, pastor, wise sage on top of the mountain, or anyone else that you deem worthy of counsel as Christian then you have heard many different versions of the same tale.
“Well, if it is God’s will then the door will open for you.”
“Just because the door opens, doesn’t mean you should walk through it.”
“You need to isolate yourself. Sleep in a tent with only water and don’t go outside the tent. Do this for two to three days (or one guy said to do this until I heard from God).”
“If you want to do it, then go for it. God puts those desires in your heart for a reason.”
“If you are chasing money, then you can’t go, but if you aren’t then you can do it.”
Plus more. Not all of the ones above are far from what I believe is the best way to do this. I must give credit to a close friend of mine for the general gist of what I am about to write regarding determining and doing God’s will. I will keep his name private (S.K.), but thanks for your advice the other day.
I heard a devotional cd several years back that was on this very topic. In the end the guy in the story was told that the Bible will not tell you what career to have, who to marry, what car to purchase, what mission trip to take, etc… But it does tell you, “Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved.” – Proverbs 16:3 The basic premise was that if you are able to commit whatever it is you are doing to God and you are not in violation of His commandments, precepts, etc… then go for it.
I think this is partially true. Here are the keys to determining God’s will and you will notice that part of it requires advance preparation.
1. be in a continual love relationship with God already – duh, don’t be a Christian Atheist (living like the world but verbally believing), walk with your Maker daily – Look at Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego for an example of why this is important. They did not have time to seek the counsel of others, to go fast and pray, to scour scripture for support for what they wanted to do. They immediately responded to the king in a way that had to have made Jehovah smile. (see Daniel 3:13-18 for the good stuff)
2. Pray about it yourself. It is one thing for us to ask everybody and their mother to pray for us. It is another thing to pray to God yourself. However, you can’t pray if you don’t know how to pray. One of the biggest mistakes is praying the prayers for God’s will to align with your own. This comes in various forms. Don’t do it. It will cloud your judgment. Pray for peace if the thing is from God or not. (Philippians 4:6-7) If you are married and one of you has peace and the other does not, talk through the emotions behind it and what the other person does not have peace about. Maybe it isn’t that they don’t have peace, but that it is challenging their comfort zone or they are simply sad about having to leave family or something. The key in a marriage is open, safe communication.
3. You will have needed to read the Bible and be studying it already. It is times like these when the passages, verses that can help you, can’t be sought. Although new passages can sometimes leap off the page to justify your decision…be wary of that. Don’t make the Bible fit what you want. Study the words to make sure they are meaning what you think they mean. For example:
Psalm 37:4-5 “Take delight in God, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will act”
If I leave this verse like it is then I can use it to justify just about anything that my heart desires because I will conveniently neglect the “Take delight” and committing/trusting God part. I just focus on the “He will give you your heart’s desires”. The other thing with this verse is that it belongs with other verses. The first sentence is really dealing with the justice of God on His enemies and how we should live as a result of trusting in God’s justice.
The second part about committing and trusting goes along with God showing Himself through our righteousness because of that commitment to Him. Because of our cultivated faithfulness, God will show Himself through us – His righteousness, His faithfulness.
4. This goes along with the last one – ACT on the opportunity while keeping the entire thing in prayer and continuing to live a life of faithfulness. God may be using one thing to get you moving because you wouldn’t have been prepared to go if He hadn’t have done it this way. It is kind of like Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding. His mom told those standing around to do whatever Jesus said to do. He told them to fill the jars with water so they did. Then He turned the water into wine. Guess what…had Jesus told them why He wanted them to fill the jars with water first the response would have been different. Laughter. Jesting. Lack of faith to act on it. Acting on it for the wrong reason. So the point is, just get moving and see what God has in store.
5. Going back to you and your spouse disagreeing. If one of you truly does not have a peace that passes all understanding and they believe it is because God is not giving it then YOU CANNOT do the thing anyway. The only way to over-ride that is through thorough communication and prayer. Two examples: one guy moved his family away from his wife’s family and all forms of support that she was used to without listening to her. They were miserable, and almost divorced as a result. He eventually began a love relationship with God and they moved back towards family. Another guy I personally know, knew what God wanted for his family but his wife did not have a peace about it yet. He patiently waited on God’s timing to bring his wife on board. He prayed for her, loved her, and otherwise supported her with his love and assurance. It took about either three or five years of doing this before she opened up the move of her own accord. He did not say anything about it and was not constantly nagging her about it. God revealed to her the timing and gave her peace. DO NOT over-ride your spouse. You are soul-mates and violating that covenant hurts in more ways than just emotional.
These are probably the top five ways to determine God’s will that my wife and I have experienced. Through all of the crazy things that we do, the counsel we have received, and the mistakes that we have made we are still together and doing fairly well in my opinion. I love her to the point that I would kill a kitten if it reared up in anger against my wife. Okay, that is a little extreme but you get the point. Now that we have kiddos, my desire to protect and provide for my family has multiplied greatly. It is one thing to the live on the streets when it is with another adult. It is another thing to live on the streets when you have two precious little children depending on you. Commitment and trust are paramount to leading your family to the Promised Land (PL) – and the PL is not of this world.