Eight Steps to Discovering God’s Will for Important Decisions
1. Pray and ask God for His wisdom.
“Okay,” you say, “I thought your counsel would be more profound.” What follower of Christ would not pray? You would be surprised how many people do not submit big life decisions to God in prayer. We tend to look at all the circumstances and go with what feels best to us. We need to start with prayer! Remember, God loves you and wants to bless you and put you in the best settings for fruitfulness and blessing.
Jeremiah 29:13-14a: If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. (NLT)
James 1:5-6: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. (NIV)
Whether it is a new home, a new car, a new job, a partnership or a prospective mate, start with prayer and you will have your best opportunity to end up with a great decision.
2. Ask for counsel from trusted people close to you.
There is wisdom in the thoughts of others who know and love God and know and love you. Talk to two or three people you admire and trust and who know you well. Ask them what they think.
Proverbs 15:22: Plans fail without good advice, but they succeed with the advice of many others. (NCV)
Take note of their thoughts and let those thoughts enter into your journey for the right choice.
3. Compare your now to the new possibility.
Practically speaking, this just makes good sense. What are the pros and what are the cons? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Please take note here that not all decisions will add up when it comes to the will of God. Sometimes He asks us to take less money or to sacrifice for His kingdom’s sake. However, the pros and cons list will give you some sense of what you are dealing with and sometimes cause you to see that the Lord is creating quite an opportunity that He wants to bless you with.
4. Ask yourself, “What is best for my family?”
Better money, a better career trajectory, better perks or a warm weather climate do not mean it will be best for the family. Church, friends, timing in the kids’ schooling and their feelings matter!
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:6-7: 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (NLT)
Notice that this is a young family (they have children). They are hanging out together, doing life together, talking and interacting about important things in life, including the most important aspect of our lives: spiritual growth. Consider which setting will be a better situation for these things to happen for your family; the one you’re currently in or the one you’re considering going to.
Ecclesiastes 9:9: Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil. (NLT)
Don’t forget that you have a spouse to do life with for a reason. Your spouse is God’s gift to you and a companion you are to enjoy life with. Will the new situation help or hurt this relationship? You don’t want to put your spouse in a situation where their life is negatively impacted by the decision. And you don’t want resentment to develop in your relationship with your spouse or children. So check it with them and get them praying too.
5. Look for confirming circumstances.
If you are praying and seeking God, it only makes sense that He will confirm it along the way with some obvious direction. So don’t overlook the ways God is showing you. Write them down and discuss them with your loved ones and spiritual leaders.
In the Bible, when Peter and His friends were praying for His deliverance from an unjust imprisonment, the angel of God came and opened the prison door. It was an obvious sign that He was to walk through the door and into his freedom.
Acts 5:19: But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. (NIV)
When you pray sincerely and fervently, God sometimes opens doors. When you pray, take note of these things and move accordingly.
6. Consult the Holy Scriptures.
Too often today many followers of Jesus are making big decisions that are contrary to the Word of God. This is often because they don’t know or ignore what the scriptures have to say about the specifics of their situations. For example, if someone was praying about divorcing their spouse, but did not have scriptural grounds, meaning their spouse had committed adultery against them, then they should stop praying and be obedient to the will of God and stay in their marriage and pray that God would help them work things out.
Matthew 19:9: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman is guilty of adultery. The only reason for a man to divorce his wife is if his wife has sexual relations with another man.” (NCV)
1 Peter 3:1-2: The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. (MSG)
God doesn’t want us to be hurt further, so He shows us the path to healing, and at times He says, “Don’t go there.” So don’t do anything contrary to the already revealed Word of God in the Bible. Remember that God is all about protecting you and bringing blessing to your future. Trust Him. If you don’t, you can find yourself in a big mess and alienated from the ones you love the most.
7. Get other people to pray with and for you.
Ask your friends, family and pastors to pray with you about this key decision for your life. There were a lot of people praying for Peter to be delivered from being jailed when he had done no wrong. Peter was miraculously set free by God’s angel and He went right to the prayer meeting and thanked his friends and family for praying for Him and thus helping bring about his deliverance (Acts 12:11-17). Prayer works and the more people who are praying for you and your situation, the better!
8. Fast when you pray.
One final thought on prayer. My wife, Karen, and I like to fast and pray when it comes to these big decisions in life. Fasting – not eating food – is coupled with prayer many places in the bible. Here are a couple:
Esther 4:16: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (NIV)
Acts 10:30: So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing…” (NKJV)
There are different ways to fast, but the most common one in the bible is to forego food and drink only water. This may seem a little weird to some of you, but I believe that when we subdue the physical in our life, the spiritual things are easier to discern. We can hear from God easier. Also, He sees that we are sincere and He will meet us because we are seeking Him with all of our hearts.
So there you have it: eight steps to the right decision. I hope you will trust the Lord and follow His ways, because His ways for you are always best and will bless your life. This passage explains God’s heart for you:
Deuteronomy 4:40: “Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” (NIV)
God isn’t bullying you, He is showing you the best path in life because He wants it to “go well with you and your children.”
Grace and Truth,
Pastor Stan Russell