Summary: Everyone seems to be interested in "discovering God's will for my life." These are general, practical guidelines to have others seek God for themselves to discover His will. This is the result of many pieces of counsel that I have shared in conversation
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 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: 1-2 (NIV)
So many people are trying to discover God's will for their lives. Many question or wonder if they are missing what God has for them. My purpose for sharing this is to try to offer some help for those who are looking for answers as to the direction for their lives. Here are a few key things to consider. These should be considered collectively as opposed to concentrating on one point as proof that God is or is not leading you to do something.
1. The big plan is already revealed.
God's ultimate will is the same for each one of us. Two scripture verses illustrate what God wants for us. God wants to conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus (Romans 8:29) and to transform us (metamorphosis in the Greek - changed from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It is easy, but dangerous to skip the step of asking “What is God’s will?” and rush into “What is God’s will for my life?”
2. God’s will is sequential.
I must first do the will of God that has already been revealed to me before I should think that God would reveal more. If He says to do step number one, I need not concern myself with step number two and three. Remember, the psalmist stated “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). It is a lamp, not a spotlight. It illuminates just your next step on your path. Once you step there, the next step is revealed.
2. Save your money.
Christian bookstores have entire sections for discovering God’s will, and they are filled with books that nearly all conclude that to discover God’s will, one must do two things: 1) Read the Bible, and 2) Pray. These are keys to God's ultimate will to transform and conform a person to be more like Christ. If you don't pray, you won't understand Scripture, for the Holy Spirit is your teacher who leads you into all truth (John 16:13). If you don't read the Bible, you won't know how to pray, for we must pray according to God's will, which is revealed in His Word. God’s will cannot go against what He has already stated in the Bible. It is the standard by which all Christians must measure their thoughts, words and deeds.
For me, God's voice has been a sense of peace. God’s voice is often a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). I have a sense of peace as He leads me, and it is not always logical (Philippians 4:7). On the contrary, I have a lack of peace as I consider a path where He is not leading me.
Psalm 37:4 states “Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The reason I think that this is true is that as I delight in God, His desires become my desires. So it is helpful for a Christian who is walking in the character and counsel of God to ask “What do I really want to do?” For example, a Christian may have a strong desire to do missions in a dangerous place while he/she has an opportunity to serve in another place that is much fuller of creature comforts. This is perhaps evidence of the Lord’s leading.
Often I have found that favor with man is from God. He will cause certain people to be drawn to you. There may be no discernible reason for why this person favors you, but it is clear that they do and it may be indication of the Lord opening a door for you. I remember Coach Myers speaking to me in high school when I was troubled over a decision on where to play college basketball. He listened to my options and then offered this advice “Go where they really want you.” He may not have known it at the time, but he was stating a spiritual truth that favor with man is from the LORD (Ezra 7:27-28).
While it is important to wait on the LORD and not get ahead of the Holy Spirit, we must balance this with the principle that God blesses initiative. Think of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). The one who took the greatest initiative (risk) was rewarded, while the one who played it safe was called a wicked, lazy servant. I am amazed in the story of Peter walking on the water that it was Peter’s idea! If I were Jesus I would have told Peter to pipe down and reminded him that it wasn’t a circus. But Jesus told him to come on! He honored his initiative.