How to Know the Will of God

The Questions: How do I find the will of God? How do I make a wise, Holy Spirit led decision? This is a crucial question in my life.

My Response: Such difficult questions. At first blush, it would appear that the responses must also be difficult. I do not believe that to be the case, however. In fact, I believe the process of discovering God's will is really quite simple. Being simple, of course, does not necessarily mean that it is easy to do.

A very wise Christian friend teaches on knowing God's will with a little story. I have found the story very helpful. Perhaps you will also.

Adam and Eve were in the Garden in Eden, and Adam went off to do his chores for the day. Likewise, Eve set about doing hers. Sometime around noon Eve started thinking about what she should make Adam for dinner. Knowing the importance of not simply pleasing Adam, but pleasing God also, she began to ponder what God's will was for their dinner that evening. So, she asked God directly, "Father, what is Your will for our dinner this evening. More than anything I want to please both You and Adam."

Without hesitation God responded, "Of all the trees in the garden you are free to eat, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

Eve listened intently as she continued her work, and momentarily she was satisfied with the answer. But soon she was pondering again. Should she bake some apples and cover them with light mango sauce, or should she prepare various nuts with a fruit salad on the side? So again she went to the Lord and said, "Father, what is Your will for our dinner this evening? More than anything I want to please both You and Adam."

Again, without hesitation, God responded, "Of all the trees in the garden you are free to eat, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

Well, Eve was now beside herself. She had no idea which dinner would fall within God's will. She was paralyzed in making a decision. God had not told her whether it should be baked apples or nuts.

When Adam returned home he found Eve sitting in the kitchen crying. "What is wrong?" he asked.

"I have twice this day gone before our Lord asking His will for our dinner, but He refused to tell me," Eve cried out.

Adam thought a moment then responded, "Did He say nothing at all?"

"No, He did speak to me. He said, 'Of all the trees in the garden you are free to eat, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.' But he did not tell me what His will was for our dinner tonight."

Adam, seeing the obvious, put his arms around his mate and taught her, "God has made us free agents. As long as we apply His command we are in His will." At this Eve was comforted, and relaxed as Adam served them both baked apples and mixed nuts.

Harken back to when you were a small child. When you wanted to do something, but were not certain your parents wanted you to, how did you learn their will? Perhaps you asked them straight out. Or perhaps you experimented on your own and received either their approval or chastisement for your action. A smile, a wink or a frown might have made your parents' will known to you.

When you grew older, you learned the will of the education system by reading a rule book and being taught by your teachers what was and was not acceptable behavior. When you applied for your driver's license, you studied a book of rules of the road, thereby learning the will of the people of your state, as codified by elected lawmakers. When you went to work, you perhaps received an employee's manual, or were otherwise instructed concerning the will of the company. When you prepare your annual Income Tax statement, you are given an instruction manual that explains the will of the Internal Revenue Service.

So it is with finding the will of God. As a child of God, we seek His will in our lives. Just as the child grows in knowledge of his parents' will by getting to know them better, so also we gain a better understanding of our Heavenly Father's will as we learn more of Him. How do we learn more of God? The same way we got to know our parents -- by spending time with Him. By talking with Him in prayer. And we assemble with other believers and are edified. By reading the Bible and meditating on God's Word.

God is infinitely complex, more so than ever our limited minds could comprehend. He understands that and has thoughtfully provided a manual to help us know Him and to guide us in our daily living. The Holy Bible is the instruction manual for Christian living. It is the perfect guidebook for discovering the will of God.

We know that God is unchanging, for He has assured us of that in Malachi 3:6 and elsewhere in His revealed Word. What displeased the Lord in Old Testament times certainly must displease Him yet today. And what the Bible tells us was pleasing to our Lord in ancient times we can be certain must please Him still.

So, how does one make a wise, Spirit-led decision? Well, I should think the way to begin is with prayer. I am not talking of the "now I lay me down to sleep" type of prayer. No, I am talking of prayer modeled on the example of prayer that our Lord Jesus gave us. Prayer which is centered on God and not ourselves. Prayer which acknowledges His sovereignty in our lives and our submission to that Divine rule. Such a prayer surely would not be seeking a sign or some palpable means to confirm God's will for us. We have the Bible and the Truth is there for us, if we but make the effort to discover it. Rather, I should think it would be an humble petition for guidance and a plea for the wisdom to recognize the truth when we see it.

Learning God's will is basically involves nothing more than drawing near to God in study and prayer, learning what His revealed Word says, and being in submission to God Almighty. If we do all these things, with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we surely must recognize His will for us.

Discovering the will of God is simple. Submitting to His will is another thing entirely. Surely, Adam and Eve knew God as well or better than has anyone since then. They enjoyed the custom of walking with Him in the Garden of Eden. During those walks, they must have discoursed with Him and learned much of His likes and dislikes. God made it easy for them to know His will. He told them straight out not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What could be more clear?

They knew His will concerning that tree. And they ate of it anyway.

For more than 40 years, Moses met with and served Almighty God. God dictated His Law to the prophet -- even wrote with His own finger the Decalogue and gave it to Moses. Moses was a great prophet and a godly man who knew quite well God's will, yet he disobeyed and was prevented from entering the Promised Land.

The Pharisees studied Scripture daily. No one knew better than they did what God had revealed of Himself through the prophets. They scrupulously kept to the very letter of the Law, yet rejected their Messiah Who fulfilled both the Law and the prophets.

Today, we suffer no lack of would be prophets and pharisaical religious systems that claim to know perfectly God's will and who are willing to interpret it for us. Like the Pharisees of old, their allegiance is to their system of rules and not God.

Get to know God by studying the Bible, meditating on His Word and speaking to Him in prayer. Then, when you seek His will honestly, you should know it for the situation at hand. Upon discovering His will for you, I urge you to submit yourself to it, even if you wish it had gone some other way. This is how we lead godly lives.

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