Three Steps to Discerning the Will of God
When I first start working with clients, either one on one or in a group setting, one of the first questions I receive is something along the lines of, “How, exactly, does one discern the will of God?”
This is an understandable question given that my mission is to “teach people to live life to the fullest in complete submission to the will of God”.
I usually answer by asking how they would go about figuring out what anyone wants? Apart from the obvious, simply asking, you would begin by cultivating a relationship with them. You would spend time with them and get to know them. Over time you would gradually begin to understand them on a level that would give you a reasonably accurate sense of the things they like. It’s no different with God.
The mindfulness movement has been championing what some meditation experts have coined “cultivating conscious contact with the divine.” While that’s not exactly the way I would describe it, I do believe that one of the best ways to begin a relationship with God is through meditation.
1 – Become Still
God tends to speak in a gentle whisper.
In 1 Kings 19, God appears to the prophet Elijah. Elijah is meditating in a cave in the mountains. First a great and powerful wind rips through the rocks. Then an earthquake shakes the mountain. After that a fire starts among some brush and burns out of control. Finally, after all that noise and violence had passed Elijah heard God speaking softly to him from outside the cave.
Elijah never would have heard God had he gone out and fought back against the natural world’s violence. He remained quite and when things calmed down he could finally hear God. No matter what is happening around us, the way to hear God is to remain still and allow the violence of the world to wash over us and past us. Some meditation experts say we must become like water to the world. Then and only then will we hear God’s gentle whisper.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. [1 Kings 19:12,13]
2 – Trust Your Instincts
In Psalm 46 God commands us to be still and know that he is God.
That kind of knowledge is instinctual and is achieved by trusting that God is who he says he is. Again, Elijah never would have heard God if he hadn’t known what to listen for. You cannot establish a relationship if you are constantly doubting what you are hearing. It starts by simply acknowledging that God is God.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” [Psalm 46:10]
3 – Double Check
Once you start to hear God speak it’s vitally important that you test what he is saying against what he has said to others. God will never go against his nature and nor will he ever encourage anyone to do so.
Read the scriptures, get to know the God of Moses, Elijah and Jesus. God’s essence is love. And love is expressed in a community of like minded believers. Begin to tell others what God is saying to you and listen for their feedback, if you have misunderstood him he will speak to you again directly and through the words of a trusted friend.
In 1 John 4 we learn that God draws us into community and relationship both with himself and others for the express purpose of speaking to us all.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. [1 John 4:12]
It is by following these three steps for cultivating a relationship with God, that you can begin to learn and understand his will in every situation.
Has God ever spoken to you? What were you doing when you heard his voice? How did you know it was Him? Tell me about it in the comments below…
L C Sheil writes regularly about, spirituality, life and business coaching. He is the founder and director of The Matthew 5:5 Society (formerly The Meekonomics Project) where he coaches ministry and business leaders to Live Life to the Fullest in Complete Submission to the Will of God.
Mr. Sheil has authored two books and is available for public speaking and one on one coaching in the areas of work life balance, finding and living your core values and financial literacy. Write to The Matthew 5:5 Society here for more information or follow L C Sheil on twitter and instagram.