How to Discern the Will of God

This year has been a particularly challenging season for me. In fact, since I graduated from Liberty University in 2012 I have struggled with one major question: Am I doing what God has created me to do (God’s will)?

First, I am learning that this is a very Americanized way of walking through life. Culture has trained me (and many of us) to constantly be consumed with bettering our future. We focus far too much on how to build our own “little kingdom” and far too little on how to sacrificially contribute to the bigger mission of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth.

How convicting for me, even as I type these words.

I ran into a pastor last year who described it so simply: “The will of God is the Word of God.” This pastor made a compelling case that God is not looking to “trick us” into making the wrong decisions in life—he actually wants the best for us. And the blueprint to his best can only be found in one place: his Word. This way of living is so freeing!

Even more recently, I found an amazing 6-step method for finding God’s will that George Mueller authored. George lived one of the most faith-filled lives of any human I’ve ever known. This 6-step method allowed George, a man completely devoted to prayer and faith, to listen for God’s whisper of wisdom. He was able to discern what his next steps should be by following this very specific method.

So, God’s will is God’s Word in your life. But let’s zoom out just a little more to find a practical process:

GEORGE MUELLER’S 6 RULES TO FIND GOD’S WILL *

Rule One: I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what his will is.

Rule Two: Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impressions. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.

Rule Three: I seek the will of the Spirit of God through or in connection with the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also.

Rule Four: Next, I take into account providential circumstances. These plainly indicate God’s will in connection with his Word and Spirit.

Rule Five: I ask God in prayer to reveal his will to me aright.

Rule Six: Thus through prayer to God, the study of the Word and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly.

I wonder what would happen if we practiced this process for every decision for 30 days? How would our lives be different if we prayed before worrying? What would happen if we read God’s Word for answers before we looked around to circumstances for confirmation?

There are dozens of places in the Scripture that talk about God’s Will. But what if we looked at the Bible as one large narrative that gives us a way of living more than short, pithy catchphrases to throw out when we are struggling with something?

Patience is not something our culture is known for. What if we made a shift from wanting answers immediately to wanting God’s answer, no matter how long it takes?

* The “6 Rules” come from Answers to Prayer by George Mueller.

This article was originally published on Thinke.org.