One of the more frequent questions that I get asked is, “How do I know what God’s will is?” Usually what people are asking is, “What am I supposed to do?” This usually comes from a heart of someone who is trying be sensitive to the voice of God, and obedient to God.
That’s usually a really good thing. James writes in the fourth chapter of his epistle,
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.
We can see that it is a good and right thing to seek and be sensitive to God’s will. But being sensitive and seeking God’s will does not equate knowing what His will is. So how do we find God’s will?
God does not hide His will. God is not some Cosmic Gamemaster hiding His plans and only giving slight clues to what it may be to people on earth. He does not take some sick pleasure in riddles and hidden meanings of what He has planned for our lives.
God’s will starts in the small things. God’s first and foremost plan for our lives is that we would love Him. When we love Him, we desire to be obedient to His commands. In John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” In the parable of the talents, the Master rewards the servants who were faithful managing a few things and said, “Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!” (Matthew 25). So the way that we know what God’s will is in the big areas of our lives is by being faithful and obedient in the small areas of our lives.
God’s will is confirmed through study and prayer. Paul writes in Philippians 4, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Prayer and petition before God, brings His peace to us. God’s peace is a supernatural calming in the midst of turmoil. Turmoil can come in our lives when we don’t know what direction we are to take. In verse 9, after Paul commands us to think on things that are true, honorable, just, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy, Paul tells us that the God of peace will be with us. So the peace of God will guard us, and the God of peace will guide us!
There is only one thing left to do – walk through the doors that God has opened. James 5:17 says, “So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” If we know God’s will and don’t follow it, we are in sin. It is imperative, then, that we are ready to follow through in obedience to God’s will.