Q: I’m presently facing a decision that will have a major impact on my life. I’ve prayed for God to show me what He knows will work out best, but how will He do that? How can I make sure I get His answer?
A: If you’ve asked the Lord to help you make the right decision, you’ve already taken the first step in what is essentially a three-step process.
Second, you need to determine in your heart that you will believe and accept God’s answer—even if it’s contrary to your own reasoning or desires in the matter. In other words, you need to sincerely want Him to make the decision according to what He knows will work out best for you and everyone else involved. This is often the hardest part because it requires you to surrender your own will to God, in favor of His.
Once you have done that, you are in the position to, third, receive His answer. If you sincerely ask God to show you what is His will for you in any given situation, He will—and He will probably do it through one or more of the following seven means, which are listed here in order of importance and reliability:
Number 1: God’s Word. The first place we look to find the will of God is in His Words recorded in the Bible. He has put the basic answers to nearly every question or problem we will face in life right there. When God speaks to us out of His Word, we know it’s right!
Number 2: The Voice of God’s Word. Have you ever been thinking or praying about something when the Lord brought to mind a certain verse or passage from the Scriptures that shed His light on the issue? That’s what is known as hearing the voice of God’s Word. Or have you ever been reading the Bible when all of a sudden a verse or passage spoke directly to you, as though it had been written just for you in regard to some situation you face? That is also the voice of the Word. The Lord applies His Word to you personally, and you get the answer you were seeking.
Number 3: Direct Revelation. God also speaks to us through messages received by the gift of prophecy, or through dreams or visions. If such revelations are truly from God, they won’t contradict His written Word. You have to measure your revelation against the Word. It’s wonderful to be able to get our answers straight from the Lord, and then confirm those answers with His Word, because then we know we’re on the right track and can proceed in full faith. That settles it! We’ve heard from Heaven!
Number 4: Godly Counselors. The Bible tells us that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6). When you’re trying to find God’s will in a given situation, it is often wise to ask for the counsel and opinions of others who are strong in the Lord, wise in His ways, and whose lives show the good fruit of following Him closely (Matthew 7:15-20).
Number 5: Circumstances and Conditions (also known as “open and closed doors”). If something is God’s will, He will usually open a door of opportunity that makes it possible. Or if something is not His will, He will often show us that by creating or allowing circumstances and conditions that stop us from doing it. Circumstances and conditions, when relied on solely, are generally a poor means of finding the will of God. They can, however, provide a confirmation of what the Lord has indicated through the other more reliable means.
Number 6: Strong Impressions or Feelings (also known as “the witness of the Spirit” or “burdens”). Feelings can be deceiving, but if God wants you to take a certain course of action, He will often give you an inner conviction that that is the right thing to do. Or if He doesn’t want you to do something, His Spirit will give you a warning not to. Either way, He gives you a certain faith and peace that you’re doing what He knows is best. It’s best to then confirm this with one or more of the other ways of finding God’s will.
Number 7: Specific, Predetermined Signs in Answer to Your Requests (also known as “fleeces”). You can sometimes check or double-check your decision by asking God to give you a specific sign, like Gideon did with his fleece, when he wanted a confirmation that he’d gotten God’s instructions straight (Judges 6:36-40).
Above all, believe that God loves you and is always ready, willing, and able to help you make the right decision—the one He knows will make you and others happiest in the long run. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you” (Matthew 7:7). That’s a promise!
(For a more complete explanation of how to use these means to make wise, godly decisions, read God Online—a collection of articles by David Brandt Berg that includes “Seven Ways to Find God’s Will”. For more on the gift of prophecy, specifically, read Hearing from Heaven.)
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