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The Key to Discerning the Will of God

By March 25, 2017April 23rd, 2022Ministry & Leadership8 min read

How can we discern the will of God for our lives? I dare say 90% of our problem when we want to know God’s will is we’re looking for the easy way instead of His way.

The first thing we need to do is get our plans – our own will – completely out of the way.

We need to seek, from the beginning of any venture of faith, to get our hearts into such a place as to have no personal agenda of our own in regard to the direction we’re choosing.

Consider the words of our Savior in the garden, “…Saying, Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him” (Luke 22:42-43). Do you see the order in which things happened? Jesus expressed His desire and then was willing to surrender His personal desire to God’s perfect and holy desire for His future. Then, in that moment, an angel was sent to minister heavenly comfort to Him and gave Him the strength needed to do the will of the Father. We often look for the most comfortable path as God’s direction, thinking we don’t have the strength to do what God asks. However, the truth is, sometimes the plan of God for our lives is going to be hard.

Praise God that He gives us the strength to follow His direction. “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” (Psalms 138:3).

Therefore, don’t be afraid to surrender to God, He is waiting for you with strength to accomplish the great things He has planned for you.

When we truly desire to know the will of God, we need to remember it is the “will of God”, not the “will of me”. Consider the words of Jesus, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26). Jesus is saying, very clearly, to be one of His disciples, we must realize our lives are not our own. If we seek to live out and pursue our own passions and desires (outside of complete surrender to God), we’re going to lose the life God has planned for us. Did you know God has plans for you? Listen to what Paul said to the Ephesian church, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

So, here’s the rub: Many of us will spend a lifetime looking for the will of God instead of surrendering to the will of God. It may be time for many of us to stop watching the parade of life and ministry go by, and step out into the flow of what God has prepared for us. God is moving, are we? God has a plan prepared, will we accept it? You see, we will never find out God’s will and plan for us if we never move from where we are.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). One of the other keys to finding God’s will for our lives is trust: trusting God knows what is best for our joy and happiness. We need to make the choice to put our full confidence in Him. So what messes us up? Instead of trusting in the Lord, we trust in our own heart. Because of the sin nature dwelling in each one of us, we can’t trust our own heart. Jeremiah continues to write, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

We need to be especially careful when seeking direction from God that we do not allow our own feelings to lead us down the slippery slope of delusion.

After we suffer the bruises from that kind of fall, we often look back and realize we were not in the will of God but lost in the wilderness of self-guided misdirection. Solomon put it well, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). It should never be what I want for my life because I think I know best; it needs to be what God has for my life because He knows what is best. Our lives are so much more than blindly feeling our way through life on our hands and knees. We have the Creator of the universe who reaches out His hand to us and says, “Come, and follow me!”

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes”(Psalm 118:8-9). Have you ever been involved in a conversation that suddenly turned into an uncomfortable situation because someone was asking you to tell them what God’s will was for their life or how to fix their problems? If you answered “yes”, there is a good possibility that you live around live people. The flip side to this is there are times we are the ones looking to our friends, and sometimes even perfect strangers, to give us direction or the solution to our problems. We talk to friends and read magazines, internet articles, and self-help books, and for what? Help from the helpless? Jesus said, “…Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?”(Luke 6:39).

If we are looking to men to know God’s will or find help, we’re looking to the blind for vision.

We need to be reminded daily of what the psalmist wrote “…For the help of man is useless” (Psalm 108:12). So why is it most of us seem to go to the Lord as our “last hope” instead of going to Him in boldness at the first sign we have lost our way, or trouble is brewing on the horizon? Why do we seek His direction from a multitude of counselors who do not know Him? Maybe we think He is too busy for us, or we’re not worth His time. Maybe we think He will not answer us when we call on Him. None of that is true! The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us to “…Come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Think about that for a moment…God wants to help us. To Him, we are priceless. He died for all our sins. The problem might be that we are the ones who are too busy: busy looking everywhere else for help and direction, and not to the God who loves us or to His Living Word. Look up Christian! Look up! He is our help! He is our hope! “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

Ty Orr is the senior pastor at Watersprings Church located in Idaho Falls, ID. Ty is married to Laurie, and they have three children.