Question: How can we determine what the Lord’s will is regarding the decisions we face in life?
Answer: We all face many decisions in life. Some of them are related to our spiritual lives; others are more along temporal lines. Some of them are large decisions; others will be relatively small.
As the Lord’s people we desire to be in harmony with His will for our lives, and when faced with decisions, we therefore need to determine what His will is. Let us go to the Lord in prayer, ask for His guidance, and assure Him that we are willing to accept whatever He indicates His will to be for us, even if it is not our natural preference. We should then:
(1.) Go to His Word and search for any direct Scriptures or any Biblical examples (in the lives of our Lord, the Apostles, the prophets, and others) that would apply to our case.
(2.) If His Word does not give us an answer, we should look to the Lord’s spirit, in the sense of the principles of the Lord’s Word – specifically the principles of wisdom, power (will power), justice, and love. (If we have given our lives to the Lord in full consecration, He has given us a measure of His spirit – 2 Timothy 1: 7).
(3.) If neither of the above provides us with an answer, we would look to the Lord’s providences. Do our circumstances appear to be leading in one direction or another?
Additional Ways to Determine God’s Will
If God’s Word, spirit, or providences point out His will in our case, let us immediately go to Him in prayer, thank Him for revealing His will to us, and proceed to carry it out. But if none of the above appears to point out His will, it may mean:
(1.) We are not watching closely enough or are refusing to accept His revealed answer. If we believe the former to be the case, let us go back to the Lord in prayer, ask Him to help us be more watchful, and then re-examine His Word, spirit, and providences. If the latter is the case and we are refusing to accept His revealed will, let us seek His aid and determine to put aside our own preference and accept His will instead.
(2.) He has not shown us His will yet and more time is needed. If this could be the case, may we ask the Lord to grant us the grace we need under the circumstances so that we may be able to wait until He is ready to reveal His will to us. (Of course, there are times when waiting to make a decision is not an option, as is the case in certain emergencies.) Possibly, He has no preference in the matter and is allowing us to choose for ourselves. But how can we know if He has no preference? Would He not reveal that to us also? We could, so to speak, “put out the fleece.”
The Case of Gideon
Many of us are familiar with the story of Gideon and his seeking assurance from the Lord that He was going to give victory to the Israelites over the Midianites in battle. He tested the Lord by explaining that he would set a fleece of wool on the ground and when morning arrived, he would expect to see certain results. When the Lord gave the desired results, Gideon repeated a similar request the next day, but this time asked for opposite results. The Lord answered his second request and Gideon had absolute assurance of victory for the Israelites (Judges 6: 37-40).
Although our circumstances are perhaps much different than Gideon’s, the principle is similar. We could go to the Lord and say something like the following: “Lord, you know what I would prefer. If that is in accord with your will, let my course run smoothly. But if I am making a wrong decision, put hindrances in the way and do not let me make a big mistake.”
Probably there is no positive formula that will fit every case, and in the end, knowing the Lord’s will for us in any matter we present to Him must depend on the closeness of our relationship with Him and the power of the holy spirit in our life. May He bless all of us to this end.