As Christians, we desire to know what God’s will is for our lives and what He has planned for us. But how can we practically know and follow God’s will so that we can live out our lives’ purpose and walk in faith and obedience to God?
What is God’s will for me? God’s will for you is to seek Him and know Him. He desires that you surrender your plans and dreams to Him so that He can shape your heart to His will. He wants you to walk in obedience to His commandments which is to love Him and love others. God’s will for you is to renew your mind daily by listening to His voice and choosing Him and not the world. He also desires for you to be in His Word, surround yourself with a community of believers and Godly advisors, and recognize how He has equipped you to serve Him and fulfill your life’s purpose by using your skills and passion for His glory.
Understanding God’s will for you is not as difficult as you may think. Here are 9 practical steps to know and discern God’s will for your life.
1. Know God
God desires for all people to seek His face and know Him.
He wants you to be in a personal relationship with Him. When you develop a relationship with someone, it takes time and effort.
A practical step to know God is to set time aside every day to be with Him. Sometimes this can be as simple as going for a walk in the park and admiring His creation. Other times it may be quiet times in the morning or evening with His Word and a cup of coffee.
Ask yourself, what does the Lord enjoy and how can I enter into and enjoy His presence daily?
Spending time with God helps you understand who God is. Understanding who God is helps you discern what God’s will is. If you understand God’s character, then you can understand what He does and doesn’t approve of.
The more you know God—not just about Him—the more you will know what His will is for you.
2. Surrender to God
To know God’s will, you need to surrender yourself to Him.
You cannot decide you want something and then ask for God’s will in it. Instead, you must let Him shape your heart so that your desires line up with His.
This takes humility and letting go of what you want. If you truly want to know God’s will, then your desire must be for Him alone. Commit yourself to God, seek first His Kingdom, and He will show you what He desires for your life.
A practical step of surrendering to God is to pray a prayer of surrender. This does not have to be a very long prayer, but can be simple like the example below:
Dear God, I humble myself before You today. I lay down all the dreams, desires, fears, worries, and plans I have at Your feet. I surrender everything to You. I am completely Yours. I trust in you, Lord. In Jesus’ precious name,Amen.
Only when you give yourself and your heart fully to Him can He show you His will for your life. He knows that often when He does reveal His will we may not like it or want it.
You have to be totally and completely abandoned to His will for you in order to receive what He wants to give you.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.Psalm 37:4-5
3. Walk in Obedience
Throughout the Bible, God lays out the steps for you to be in His will by giving commands for you to walk out in obedience through faith. Knowing these commands can help you know God’s will for you in your life.
God’s first and most important commandment for you is to love Him. This is why He made you. You are to know Him, love Him, and glorify Him for who He is.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.Deuteronomy 6:5-6 ESV
Walking in obedience also means loving others and telling them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. This goes hand in hand with the most important commandment.
You don’t have to be a missionary or go overseas to do that. This could be done in your home, with your friends, and in the workplace.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.Leviticus 19:18 ESV
Practically, walking in obedience looks like living out the 10 commandments in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The 10 commandments reveal God’s will for your life because they show how to put the first most important commandments into action.
This is how He desires you to live for Him while also being a witness to others of His character.
1. You shall have no other gods before Me
2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
5. Honor your father and your mother
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery
8. You shall not steal
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
10. You shall not covet your neighborExodus 20:3-17 NKJV
4. Study His Word
God’s will for you is clearly revealed throughout the Bible. However, sometimes it may be difficult to know where to start seeking God’s will in scripture.
A practical step is to pick one verse a day and meditate on it when you wake up, when you go to work, when you eat, and when you go to sleep.
Another option is to do a word study in the Bible of God’s will.
Here are a few verses of scripture to get started:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality.1 Thessalonians 4:3 NKJV
Throughout the day, ask God what the verse reveals about His will for you. God never hides His will for our life. It is always laid out in His Word. If we know His character, then we can know for certain the things that are and are not in His will for us.
For example, If you are suffering or experiencing hardships, God’s will is for you to continue loving and serving Him despite what you face.
God would also never tell you to hate those who persecute you because the second commandment teaches us that we are to love people as ourselves.
As a Christian, it is not only necessary to spend time in the Word but essential in learning how to live a life of faith for Jesus Christ.
If you want to know who Jesus is and how He lived out God’s will for His life on earth, spend time reading and meditating on John 13-17.
Jesus never said following God’s will would be easy, but He did promise that whoever obeys and follows God’s will is part of His family as His brothers and sisters (Mark 3:35).
5. Renew Your Mind
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
To know God’s will for you, you must daily renew your mind.
This means that you are choosing not to think or act in the ways of the world but instead being willing to be lead by the Holy Spirit moment by moment.
Practically, you must recognize that you have been made a new creation in Christ. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, He has put to death the old person you once were and created someone totally new.
However, since you are still in the flesh because you are human, you still have your old mind that needs to be dealt with daily. You must let Jesus be both Lord and Savior over every area of your mind and heart and let Him transform you with the truth.
This means that you need to be dwelling on the truth of who God is and His Word daily.
As you let God conform you more into the image of His Son, Jesus, you will want to live your life differently apart from the world. When you do this, your thoughts and desires will be transformed and lined up with God’s thoughts and desires. And you will be able to discern what the will of God is for you.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.John 14:16-17 ESV
6. Listen To God’s Voice
Sometimes all we need to do is stop talking and let God speak to us.
You may pray a lot and ask God to help you know His will. But if you are the one that is doing all of the talking, how is He going to give you an answer?
Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land…Psalm 37:34a ESV
A practical step to listening to God’s voice is to get a journal or notepad with a pen or pencil and sit still. Put away all distractions such as your phone and computer. Write down a few questions about what you are wanting God to reveal to you.
Then ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you.
If things start coming to mind, such as ideas, information, or more questions related to the things you are seeking God for direction and clarity on, write those down.
The Holy Spirit may use things that you already know but haven’t thought of. He may also give you new ideas or bring to mind someone to talk to and get wisdom from.
Be open and willing for God to speak, listen to His voice, and then take action in faith-based upon what He has told or shown you.
“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 ESV
God speaks in so many different ways. Try different ways of listening to see what works best for you.
God wants to reveal His plan to you but you have to be willing for Him to say whatever He wants and then step out in faith and obey Him. God knows that most times we are wanting to hear something different than what He has for us.
That is why it is important to surrender to Him first and then seek His voice in the matter.
7. Surround Yourself With A Community Of Believers And Godly Advisers
God’s will for you is to be in a community with other like-minded believers who stand upon God’s truth and encourage you in your faith. His will for you is to also seek the counsel and wisdom of those who have experienced more of life than you have.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.Proverbs 11:14 NKJV
God wants you to surround yourself with people who know and love Him. While God wants you to rely on Him for all things, He has also created you to be in community.
If you are not kept accountable in your walk with God by others, then you will have a much more difficult time discerning the will of God.
You and I need people in our lives who can affirm God’s will for us and remind us to keep pursuing Him. Sometimes we also need an outside perspective to deal with the things that are right in front of us.
Be wise and discerning when choosing who you encourage to speak into your life. You want people who are deeply rooted in their identity in Jesus Christ and have a good understanding of who God is and His will for their lives.
Those who are close to you will begin to shape you. Be careful who gets permission to shape your life.
A practical step is to get connected with people who are close to God and who are walking in obedience to Him daily. Find a Bible study or missional community that loves Jesus, is passionate about knowing God and studying His Word, and loves to live on mission and serve others.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
8. Find What You’re Good At
God has given everyone something they’re good at. How can you use what you are good at for God’s glory?
Knowing what you are good at can help you know God’s will for your life. Sometimes the difficulty in discerning God’s will is we don’t always know what skills we have or what we are good at and how to use that for God’s glory.
Here are some practical questions to consider:
- Does it grow me closer to God?
- Does it deepen my love for Jesus?
- Will it help me to love others as Jesus does?
- Is it in line with God’s character?
It can also be difficult to figure out if God’s will for you is to use your skills or gifts where you’re at or in another location.
Here are some practical questions to apply to your life:
- Will God be glorified wherever I am at?
- Does my skill need to be utilized somewhere specifically?
- Will this benefit some people more than others?
- Do I need training to further develop my skill?
There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. But as you seek God’s will for your life, look at the skills, gifts, tools, and talents He has given you.
He has equipped you with everything you need to live out and fulfill His will for your life. You don’t have to go far to find out what God’s will for you is.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
9. Do What You Love
God has given you a passion for something. Strange as it may sound, God’s will for you may be to pursue your passion to bring Him glory.
What do you love to do that brings you joy? How can God be glorified in that?
God wants you to enjoy His creation within the boundaries He has created it. Walking in God’s will for your life means that you love and serve Him to the best of your ability.
How can you love Him with your passion?
Do you have a passion for cooking and baking food? Be hospitable and invite people over for dinner.
Do you love to write? Write a book or teach others how to write well.
Do you love music? Write songs and play music.
Do you love flowers? Think about becoming a florist or giving bouquets to your friends as a gift.
Do you love learning about other cultures and languages? Go travel or become a missionary.
God has already equipped you with everything you need to know about His will for you.
So now that you know God’s will for you, what are you going to do about it today to put it into practice?