How to Discern God’s Will

We daily face decisions — big and small. Should we wait or go? Which direction should we take? Can we even discern God’s will for our lives?

We’ve all asked these questions at one time or another. Have you ever wished handwriting would appear on the wall to remove all doubt? I have! God usually chooses more subtle means to answer us, however. He desires that we clearly sense His direction and move within the epicentre of His blessing.

Paul encourages the new believers in Rome with these words:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2

I find a few significant details here:

  1. The world cannot offer the answers we need.
  2. We should seek spiritual transformation and a renewed mind.
  3. We can discern, “test and approve,” God’s will.
  4. God’s will for us is perfect!

Be Transformed

Rather than offer a few gentle suggestions, Paul commands his listeners to change mindsets and heart attitudes — “do not conform … be transformed!” Bombardment by culturally and politically motivated thinking has become our daily norm. It infiltrates our schools, blasts through media, and asserts itself through authoritative voices.

However, the world’s views differ greatly from God’s all-knowing perspective. We choose whether to flow along the broad stream of cultural thought or look within the pages of God’s inspired Word, the Bible, for needed answers.

“Transformed” comes from the same Greek word we translate metamorphasis — the transition of a caterpillar into a butterfly. I call the process of spiritual transformation the “messy middle” between salvation and Heaven. It is the real living out of our daily lives.

Transformation requires changed patterns of living which are every bit as radical as a caterpillar’s crawling on the ground one week and the butterfly’s effortless wafting between flowers the next.

Transformational renewing comes through time spent reading and meditating on the Bible, seeking God in prayer, and trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Test and Approve

As we look to God in these ways, we will discover the answer to many of our questions have already been clearly written for us. Other things aren’t quite so evident, however. How do we test and approve God’s will when there is no chapter and verse answers available?

I’ve found these three basic questions helpful:

First, “Is this God’s plan?” The source of inspiration will either come from ourselves, the enemy trying to lead us off course, or God directing us into His perfect will. If any aspect contradicts Scripture, we confidently know it isn’t God’s plan. God seeks to advance and promote His people, but if we sense a push for money over people, or the desire for self-glory rather than God being glorified, we again have the assurance it isn’t God’s plan.

Second, “Is this God’s plan for me?” Maybe, we tested the idea and proved it to be God’s good plan, but is it God’s plan for me? He actually might desire someone else to fulfill His plan, even though we earnestly want to step into it. It may even feel like a perfect fit for us. Yet if we lack the internal peace to proceed, God might be intending someone else to fulfill it.

Finally, “Is this God’s plan for now?” Maybe, the hesitation we sense comes from God, holding us back until we are better equipped or other circumstances are strategically moved into place. Other times, we recognize a window of opportunity opening for a brief period of time, requiring an immediate, “Yes, Lord!” on our part.

The “not now” feeling has always been the hardest for me to wrangle with. When I sense God’s leading, I want to run with it. Testing and approving God’s plan also includes evaluating the timing.

Beautiful, Satisfying, and Perfect

As we discern God’s will, we discover His wonderful plans for us. The Passion Translation records Romans 12:2 like this:

Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.”

The power to discern God’s will leads to a “beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in His eyes.” Wow! Isn’t that what we all long for?

God doesn’t promise painfree ease. His plans for us include something more beautiful, more satisfying, and more perfect than we can imagine. As we consistently endeavor to discern God’s will, we will experience these qualities in ever increasing measure.

Discern God’s Will

Am I being inwardly “transformed by the Holy Spirit?” Have I experienced a “total reformation” of thinking? Am I developing an increased ability to discern God’s will for my life? How about you?

Let us commit together to daily read and meditate on God’s Word, being transformed in our thinking and renewed in our minds. May we resolve to allow the Holy Spirit to influence our viewpoints, while revealing the motivations of our hearts.

As we face decisions may we honestly answer three simple questions:

  1. Is this God’s plan?
  2. Is this God’s plan for me?
  3. Is this God’s plan for now?

When we discern God’s will, may we all have the boldness to step into His beautiful, satisfying, and perfect will. Bless you as you continue on your adventure to discern, test, and approve His perfectly perfect will!

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