How To Discover God's Will For Your Life
Since some variation of the words “the will of God” or the “Father’s will” occur more than twenty times in the New Testament, it is fair to assume “the will of God” exists and can be known. The apostle Paul commands us to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). Jesus uses the expression when He addresses God with the words, “Your will be done” in what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:10). Yes, God has a will that we must discover and do from the heart.
Paul declared “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27). There is a body of content between Genesis and Revelation that squarely applies to the church. In less than thirty-six months, Paul taught the Christ-followers this “whole purpose.”
We read in Jude 3, “the faith . . . was once for all handed down to the saints.” There are boundaries to this content. In fact, Paul warned: “learn not to exceed what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6).
Epaphras was “always laboring earnestly . . . in his prayers” for the Colossians, that they might “stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). Unfortunately, we can know and do just part of God’s will.
How important is it to learn the whole purpose of God and do it from the heart?
Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Later, He adds, “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). John further emphasizes the importance of God’s will when he declares, “the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17).
Doing the will of God, therefore, not only reveals our relationship to God, but it is also related to our eternal destiny. Concerning eternity, the writer of Hebrews states, “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Hebrews 10:35–36).
From Jesus and the apostles we learn that the will of God never ranks second to anything. For this reason, all of us should be asking, “What is God’s will?”
Most of the time when people ask, “What is God’s will for my life?” they have in mind a specific concern: career, love relationships, finances, etc. Rarely do people simply ask, “What is God’s will, His whole purpose, to which the Bible refers?” The difference between these two questions is crucial to finding God’s will for you. I believe that if you start by asking the second question—“What is God’s will?”—you will likely discern the answer to the first question, “What is God’s will for my life?”
The question, “What is God’s will for my life?” considers what I refer to as the unique will of God for me. The question, “What is God’s will?” explores what I call the universal will of God for all believers. I contend that the best way to know God’s unique will is to know and follow His universal will for all believers.
The apostle John describes how following the universal leads to the unique. First John 3:21–22 states, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”
There we have it. Keep God’s commandments (His universal will in imperative form) and encounter His unique response to our petition. In response, God guides and provides for us at a personal level.
We can experience a remarkable answer to prayer, an orchestration of events pointing to a particular course of action, or a supernatural peace in the midst of unanswered prayers. Amazing things can happen as we keep His universal commandments and then ask Him to uniquely direct our steps.