[ WordBytes on “The Master Needs You” ]
Discerning God’s will is not a complicated business. It is in reality, simple. It’s always available, and God always speaks in the vernacular — He speaks our language, because He wants us to hear Him. It’s His great desire that we hear Him. The complications set in when we try to hear God without doing our part to open the channels of communication. Divine guidance is God simply communicating with His children.
In Isaiah 42:16, God says, “I shall lead the blind by a road they do not know, on paths they do not know I shall conduct them. I shall turn the darkness into light before them, and the quagmires into solid ground. This I shall do without fail.” God guides us every step of the way in our ministries, down the road to destinations we do not yet know. God is always going ahead of us, preparing the way, leading us to where He wants us. The path may not look clear to us; that’s why He calls us “blind.” It’s all clear to God. We have only to rely on His vision, His guidance.
7 Ways that God Communicates His Will to Us
We learn what God’s will is through a variety of ways, which work together. None of the following by themselves are reliable, but in unity with each other, they become God’s voice.
1. Inner peace: The Holy Spirit always comes in a whisper and in peace. Any time you feel a compulsion to make a decision a certain way, it’s time to stop and ask, “What’s going on? Who is this speaking? Who’s pushing me into this?” The driving force may seem perfectly logical, the people recommending it may sound perfectly rational, but compulsion means distraction from God.
On the other hand, when God speaks, there is peace. If the peace isn’t there, or if it’s not very strong, it’s time to pray and seek more discernment.
Listen to your heart. Listen to the uneasiness. Hear what the lack of inner peace is trying to warn you about. It’s only when we’re doing God’s will that we have peace inside of us.
Even when it seems scary or too challenging to follow God’s plans, go for it! God will never allow us to get in over our heads. God will lead us into excitement and fulfillment and successes that we never dreamed possible.
2. Right priorities: Feeling peace is not the same as feeling good about an idea. It’s the easiest thing in the world to feel good about something when our human desires are saying “I want to do this!” Many people run here and there, going to this meeting and that meeting, serving God this way and that way — all on the same day! They think they’re doing God’s will, because each activity is a “good thing.”
But a “good” idea is not always God’s idea. God does not want to use us where we would be distracted from a greater work that He has planned for us. And if any of our activities are putting our priorities out of whack, they are definitely activities of which God does not approve.
When something goes wrong in keeping our priorities straight, it always goes back to poor communication with God. We haven’t really checked it out with Him. We’ve decided on our own that we need this activity or that ministry in our lives — or out of our lives. Then we have to look at why. Are we running away from something? Are we hiding behind our busy-ness?
3. Audible voice of God: Some people have heard God speaking to them with their physical ears. They may be alone in a room, doing housework or working at their job, and they hear their name being called. It’s very clear, and they turn around expecting to see a person standing nearby. But no one is there. However, this form of communication is rare and should never be expected, waited for, or trusted by itself.
4. Direct voice of the Holy Spirit: Most of us, when we hear the direct voice of God, hear Him speak in our minds, in words that are as clear as our own thoughts. In many places in Scripture, we read that “God said–” or “God spoke–“. How did that happen? God communicated to people with clarity. And since God is unchanging, He still communicates this way today.
It’s possible to carry on normal conversations with God. In fact, this should be everyday Christian living for us. God desires it. But to experience this, we have to let go of our doubts and our mistaken beliefs that God is too high and mighty to speak to us this way or that only the holiest people hear God’s direct voice.
5. Scripture: Everything we hear from the Lord has to be 100% in agreement with the Bible. God will never, ever speak against His own Word. We test all of our discernment and inner voices by studying scriptures. But if we take verses out of context, we can use them to prove anything, so it’s important that we get to know the Bible and its message as a whole.
6. Circumstances: When one thing after another occurs in a pattern, or “coincidences” keep happening, we need to stop and ask, “Lord, what is it that You’re trying to speak to me about?” When God calls us to follow Him, and we proceed to obey, God prepares the way and everything generally falls into place. On the other hand, when we keep hitting walls — circumstances that feel like closed doors — that’s usually a clue that God has not opened this door and we should move in another direction.
7. Signs: Scripture says that if we are living according to the will of God, signs and wonders will follow. Notice: they follow. It’s not wise to ask God to prove that we are hearing Him correctly through some sort of miraculous sign before we obey His leadings. Yes, there are rare times when it’s necessary. The problem is, Satan can interfere when we ask for signs. He can throw in a misleading sign and send us off in the wrong direction. The true signs are those that bear good fruit after we have said yes to God and have begun to go where we think He wants us to go.
© 1997 by Terry A. Modica
This WordByte is also available as part of the e-book Knowing God’s Will and Doing it Well, published by Catholic Digital Resources.
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