Three Questions for Pursuing God’s Will

One of the most common questions among human beings is, how do I know God’s will? Or sometimes we’ll simply ask, how do I make right and wise decisions?

Christians sometimes want to make this issue mystical. In fact, we can be downright superstitious, seeking signs and waiting for audible voices. But what if it’s more simple than that? When someone comes to me asking these questions, I offer up three tests. These three tests are, in my opinion, the ultimate way to discern what to do next…

What Does the Bible Say?

Does the Bible address my question? For example, should I witness to my friend? Absolutely – it’s written down. Should I steal that which isn’t lawfully mine? Nope – God’s Word makes the boundaries quite clear.

Sometimes the Bible explicitly addresses my question and other times it does so implicitly. That is, it doesn’t give me a black and white answer, but it provides enough principles for me to make a wise decision.

What Has God Been Saying?

I do believe that God deals with each of His children on an individual and relational level. He speaks to me, not in an audible voice, but in a voice that is much louder at times. He speaks through circumstances, counselors, and in the communion of prayer.

One word of caution – God will never speak to you in a way that contradicts His Word. In other words, the first question always takes precedence. Never say, “Well, I know God’s Word says ___, but I just feel like He’s saying ___.” Never happens. What does His Word say? And what is He saying that won’t contradict His Word?

What Is Wise?

The third question is the one we forget. When I say that we make God’s will a mystical matter, I mean that we have a tendency to wait until one of the first two questions can be answered. We want to pray about a decision until God speaks to us. But consider this – the Holy Spirit has come alongside of me to empower my thinking and God’s Word provides a pretty awesome foundation for wise decision-making.

In other words, sometimes I just need to do what is wise. Can God speak to me about whether to buy the Honda versus the Toyota? Sure! He’s God. But I’m not necessarily going to wait around for the earth to shake and the chicken bones to magically fall in the pattern of the Honda logo. I can size up the deals I’m being offered, make sure I’m abiding by the financial wisdom spelled out in Proverbs and other God-inspired wisdom literature, then sign on the dotted line.

If I put my decisions through these tests, I can make decisions with confidence and never look back. I can walk in the approval of God if I’ve sought out His mind and His wisdom on the matter. If I get to hear His direct voice on a matter, that’s a pretty great bonus!

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About the Author

I'm Brandon. I'm the Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church in Northwest Arkansas, which my wife, Angie, and I planted in January of 2012. I previously served as a Pastor at Saddleback Church and still manage Pastor Rick Warren's online, global ministry to pastors, Pastors.com. I also lead a blog about blogging, a blog about social media, and a blog about men's issues. And I've written a book - Rewired, which challenges the church to adopt social media to spread the good news about Jesus. I sometimes take on church website design projects and I coach pastors and leaders as well. I'd love to hear from you!
13 Responses
  1. Kerrie Smith

    I do agree with all three of these questions. A lot of times, we just need to use good common sense, or, the brain God gave us, as it were. A lot of times, we'll say: "I need to figure this out first," but if we do study God's Word, we should also ask ourselves what a passage is saying to us about a particular situation. Regarding figuring something out, if that passage is saying something to us that applies to our situation, we don't need to figure anything out there; it's already pointed out to us. I hope I'm making sense.

  2. Timothy Fish

    You have some good thoughts here. I’ve often heard people talk about the need to pray about every decision, but I don’t know of any one who actually does that. If we are in prayer on a regular basis and study God’s word, we often already know what his will is. I believe God does still give us signs, but it is so easy for us to start asking for a sign when we already know the will of God and we don’t like it. It just gives us an excuse to wait around a while longer or to say, “God didn’t want me to do that after all.”

      1. I like what my dad's pointed out in the past. When the disciples wondered why they couldn't cast out certain demons, Jesus said, "This one only comes out by prayer and fasting." Then He cast out the demons. Jesus didn't have to stop and pray and fast right before casting them out. It's as though He was already prayed up and fasted up enough.

        I think that's an awesome illustration for how God wants to work through us in the moment.

        This is a fantastic post by the way. It's a wonderful reminder of what we probably already know but tend to forget in daily life. I've written about this topic a couple times over the past few months, so it's encouraging to see more confirmation. Thanks for sharing.

        -Marshall Jones Jr.
        .-= bondChristian´s last blog ..Learn how to trust your friend =-.

  3. Brandon, I always enjoy your thoughtful posts.

    I suppose I do think there are exceptions to general, scriptural council. Even in the scriptures themselves. And it's probably because of those that it can be too easy to make ourselves the exception and to justify bad behavior and choices.

    But I can honestly saw that in my 45 years on earth, I have never truly been the exception to a rule. I've never been in a circumstance where God WANTED me to go off the traditional Christian path. And I tend to think that exceptions are so rare that most people probably haven't been afforded that dispensation either.
    .-= Alison Moore Smith´s last blog ..Best Toys: 60 Educational Family Games =-.

    1. Brandon

      Interesting thoughts. God's will certainly isn't an easy subject to address, but it's not as tough as we make it out to be either.

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