Discover how to find God’s will for your life through the bible.
Critics of the gift of prophecy sometimes say that prophetic people ignore the word of God. They may even go so far as saying that we allow prophecy to take precedence and authority over the bible.
This can indeed be a danger. But it’s only a problem if we get too wrapped up in listening to God without also reading and understanding our bibles. Put the two together and we are able to assess and test prophetic words against the plumb line of God’s word.
However, God speaks in different ways through his word that some of those critics may not realise.
When it comes to God’s will, there are 2 main areas we are interested in:
- God’s general will for everyone and
- His specific will for each of us.
Particularly when it comes to his specific will for your individual life I’m going to argue the case for why the Bible alone is not enough!
However, before we get to that, we need to understand what the Bible itself has to say about the subject.
Read on to find out more.
How To Find God’s Will: Getting To Know God
Like many people, when I first became a Christian I immediately wanted to know God’s will for my entire life. I was so excited to have met God that I wanted to do exactly what he told me to do, every day, no more and no less.
And I wanted to know all the details: I wanted to know what he was going to do that day. But I also asked him what clothes I should wear and even what I should eat for breakfast!
What I didn’t realise at the time was that God is a bit more subtle than that. He gives us guidance and leads us in specific directions, yes. But he also gives us free will and the ability to make decisions for ourselves.
The amazing thing is that we can also learn to get extremely specific leading from him. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I realised that before we get into his specific will for our lives, we need to understand his general will which is revealed in the Bible.
How To Find God’s Will: The World Vs Your Life
When we look at the bible, we see 2 overarching themes in God’s will:
- His general will for the world as a whole.
- His general will for your life.
The latter is, in fact, God’s general will for every believer. So it’s not simply about you or me, it’s about everyone else too!
However, if you’re a follower of Jesus, then it’s comforting to know that there are general principles you can follow in your life, right now.
What The Bible Says About How To Find God’s Will
What follows is a whistle-stop tour of what the bible has to say about God’s will. To counter potential critics, I want to let the scripture speak for itself as much as possible.
With that in mind, I’m going to cut down on the prose: I’ll list out some key bible verses and simply add a few bullet points after each.
Through this format, I hope to highlight the essential truths of God’s will. I leave it to you, my dear reader, to draw your own conclusions.
How To Find God’s Will: God’s General Will For The World
“The LORD works out everything to its proper end – even the wicked for a day of disaster.”
- God is in charge of everything.
- He will work out “everything to its proper end”.
- This includes a Day of Judgment (see elsewhere in the bible for details).
1 Timothy 2:1, 2-4
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people… This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
- Pray for everyone as much as possible.
- God wants all people to be saved.
- While there is a place called Hell (according to Jesus’ teaching), that destination isn’t God’s heart for anyone.
- If we come to a knowledge of the truth and follow Jesus then there is Heaven instead!
“…your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
- Jesus taught us to pray this as part of a daily prayer.
- When God’s kingdom comes, his will is done on Earth.
- His will is already being done in heaven, so prayer is one way that we bring Heaven to Earth.
2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
- Thankfully God is patient with us!
- He doesn’t want anyone to perish.
- He wants everyone to come to repentance and know his forgiveness.
1 John 2:16-17
“For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
- This helps answer the question, “Why isn’t everyone saved?”
- There is a battle going on: the world is against God and his desires.
- The “world” means governments, people groups, society, the media, false ideologies and other spiritual forces.
- These are the “principalities and powers” of Ephesians 6:12.
- But the world is fighting a losing battle!
- Following God’s will leads to eternal life: those who do will outlast the world!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Sin (our old way of life before we met Jesus) has a cost: it leads to death and decay.
- Continuing to live in sin is like going to work every day in an impossible job that we hate.
- BTW: That job also has a truly horrible boss!
- BUT: God gives us eternal life for free!
- There is a cost associated with that too: to lay down our lives before Jesus and proclaim him as our lord and saviour.
- Not all are prepared to pay that cost, but it’s so worth it!
How To Find God’s Will: God’s General Will For Your Life
That leads us neatly into God’s will for your life. Here again, we can turn to God’s word to help us understand what that is.
God’s word, the Bible, is full of history, teaching, prophecy and even advice on Christian living.
The overall body of his word contains his general will for your life. It explains:
- Who God is, what he is like (spoiler: he’s not like us!) and his desires for us and the world.
- How to relate to God.
- How to relate to each other.
- Important Lessons from lives of real people featured in the bible.
- And lots of other themes, too numerous to mention here.
Here are just a few of them, beginning with perhaps the most famous…
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- God has plans for us: this verse actually reveals God’s will for the whole world but it applies to us on an individual level too.
- His plans are to prosper you but this doesn’t necessarily mean money!
- His first intention is to prosper your soul.
- He does this through his spirit within you, who renews your mind and brings health to your body.
- God’s plans provide a purpose for your life and fill you with hope.
- Why? Because hope increases and strengthens our faith.
- And God will do anything he can to see faith expressed in us and through us.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
- If you’re not sure where you’re heading or what to do next, the answer is simple: pray and ask God what he thinks.
- He will show you the way forward, even if it’s just the next step he wants you to take.
- And often it will be just the next step because he likes to keep his kids close to him as they go about his business!
1 Thessalonians 5:18
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- This verse is another simple one: give thanks all the time, whatever is going on, good or bad.
- It sounds easy enough but for many people (including myself) remembering to do it is often the hardest part!
- I’ve discovered that being thankful for the things I have and the things God does (for me and for others) helps to bring the things I want back into perspective.
1 Thessalonians 4:3
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body…”
- Of course, this verse speaks about more than just sexual immorality:
- It’s talking about sanctification, the process by which we are changed “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
- If we give our lives to Jesus and believe in him, we are already justified before God:
- Our status as one of his children is assured. He sees us as family and accepts us as we are.
- But he doesn’t want us to stay as we are, so he changes us and makes us more like him, day by day and week by week.
- That’s sanctification at work and it’s God’s will for your life!
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
- God is our shepherd and we are his sheep, so he knows what’s good for us and looks after us.
- He also gives us things to do to execute his will on the Earth:
- So we don’t just pray for the world, we get to go out there and change it.
- Better still, he equips us with “everything good for doing his will” so we won’t fall short at a crucial moment.
How To Find God’s Will: Conclusion
It turns out the Bible has a lot to say about God’s will. Some of the things it says include:
- God has a plan to save the world
- You and I live in the world and are part of that plan.
- God also has a personal plan for you which fits into that larger plan for the world.
- His plan is that you:
- Are justified before him (can be in relationship with God).
- Will be/are being sanctified (made more like Christ each day).
- That you should receive wisdom from him as you face choices and decisions in your life.
- Be faithful to and full of faith for the destiny he has for you.
You can trust him to work it all out as you continue to follow and seek him.
Your job (and mine) is to reach out to your fellow human beings in whatever way God has built you. You have a unique contribution to bring and God promises to equip you for whatever he has in store.
How To Find God’s Will: Decisions, Decisions
But how do you know what decision to make, when? For example, how do you decide when you are thinking of changing job or buying a house?
At this point, the bible can give us general pointers but the bible alone is not enough. We need to learn to hear and listen to God’s voice as we pray – while keeping in mind what he says in his word.
Now that I’ve said that, those critics I talked about earlier may already have a guard over their hearts.
However, the bible still has more to say on the subject, not least of which comes from the life and ministry of Jesus himself: So stay tuned because that’s the subject of the next post!
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Excellently written, Tim. We need prophecy to be restored in its proper place more than ever before. You are doing an excellent job as prophet to equip the body in hearing God and losing the fear of prophecy.
My church don’t fear prophecy but values it. However, I am aware of the misconceptions about prophecy.
Thank you for your comment and for the encouragement!
Great to hear you’re part of a church that values prophecy.