By Juan Sanchez
Many people come to their pastor asking for help finding “God’s will.” Some ask out of a genuine desire to please God, while others ask out of fear of missing out.
The problem with talking about “finding” God’s will is that it assumes God is hiding it and that it’s up to us to find it. And when we work out of the distorted view that it’s up to us to find God’s will for our lives, we try to divine it in odd, unhelpful, even ungodly ways—from goosebumps to Magic 8-balls, fortune tellers to horoscopes, random Bible verses to coincidental occurrences.
To understand God’s will, we must first have a biblical view of God. To truly help our people, then, remind them God has an eternal plan for His glory and our joy. And because God is sovereign, He’ll accomplish all His holy will (Isaiah 48:8-11).
But God isn’t only sovereign; God is also good. For this reason, we don’t have to fear what God wills for us. And thankfully, God has revealed His plan and purposes—His will—by His Word (Deuteronomy 29:29). We’re not in the dark about what God desires.
So, to know and do God’s will, lead your people to ask the following five questions, which I’ve adapted from Bruce Waltke’s book, Finding the Will of God: A Pagan Notion?
1. What does the Bible say?
Because God has revealed His will in his Word, the first question we want to lead a person to ask is, “Is what I’m contemplating biblical?” We need to encourage those who come to us for counsel to read their Bibles and meditate on God’s Word.
One of the reasons so many professing Christians have a hard time discerning God’s will is that they’re biblically illiterate. So, encourage your people to read Scripture and show them how to read—not flipping through the Bible to find a matching verse, but reading it in its appropriate contexts.
And as you seek to discern God’s will from Scripture, pray the Scriptures. They are, after all, God’s Word.
2. Do you have a heart for God?
As we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and His desires become our desires (Psalm 34:7). As our desires align with God’s, our good desires will be godly desires.
Why do we think God’s will for us must be something undesirable? Encourage those who come to you for counsel to seek to please God, first and foremost rooting their pursuit to please God in Scripture and steeping it in prayer.
3. What are mature, wise, godly counselors saying?
We’re not meant to live the Christian life alone. Instead, we’re to bear one another’s burdens and encourage one another. We’re to speak the truth in love to one another.
So, encourage people to seek godly, wise, mature counselors. Many of us will try to find “counselors” who already agree with us. We must fight that temptation and find counselors who truly love us and are willing to tell us what we need to hear, especially when we need to hear hard truths.
4. Do you see God’s providential hand at work?
Notice this is question four, not question one. Too often, we look for “open doors” and “closed windows” and make decisions accordingly. But what we want to do is lead people to root their decisions in the objective truth of God’s Word and the wise counsel of mature believers.
We want to be grounded when God, in His kind providence, opens a door, or two, or three. And we want to encourage people when God closes a door, perhaps, even when He slams it in front of us.
5. What is the wisest course of action?
Some people get overwhelmed by the many opportunities before them, particularly when the opportunities are all good and when counselors are giving the green light.
We need to remember—and help our people remember—that if what’s before us is not contrary to Scripture, if we’re pursuing God and walking in the Spirit, if mature, godly friends are encouraging us, and if any number of decisions will please the Lord, then we just need to make a decision.
Having asked questions 1-4, we finally come to the question of prudence. Will this be wise?
Unfortunately, we like to complicate matters. God has a plan for His glory and our good. God will accomplish all He’s willed to do. Because He’s revealed His overarching plan in Scripture, we can know God’s will.
As we renew our minds, testing everything according to Scripture, seeking the guidance of those who love us, and trusting in Christ for all we need, we may discern God’s will, “what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).