Begging God to Reveal His Will for Your Life? Consider These Four Questions
Spending more than a few hours in a small space (say . . . a vehicle) with my family of seven, has me yearning for soundproof headphones—the kind you wear on the shooting range to protect your ears. So many voices, requests, demands . . . so much NOISE. What I really want is to hear one voice at a time—a calm, quiet voice.
A lot like I want to hear God’s voice in the middle of all the noise of decision-making.
I want his calm, quiet voice to gently tell me what to do. It’s not always that easy, though. Sometimes God’s voice gets lost in the noise. Sometimes, I put my soundproof headphones on so that I avoid what He’s saying, and other times, I simply forget to ask Him to speak.
I’ve spent much of the last 10 years trying to figure out what God wants from me, trying to hear His voice. And I’ve learned a few things along the way. If you, too, are trying to discover God’s will in your life, here are four questions to consider as you listen for His voice.
Are you seeking God’s will?
Obviously, you are looking for God’s voice and direction, but are you really seeking his will? In order to discover what God wants from you, first, you must be willing to want the same thing. Many times, we are begging God to send us a sign or tell us what to do, but we already have an end result in mind. We already know the direction we want to go, we’re just waiting for God to show that He agrees with us.
What God wants, though, is for us to seek His will first. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). God wants to give you blessings, but He doesn’t always want to give you your way. If you want to hear God’s voice . . . seek His will. I often pray, “Father, let my desires match YOUR will.” The key is asking God to help you want what He wants even if it’s not what you had in mind.
Are you spending time with God?
If you were asked to name a stranger’s favorite color, food, hobby, or career ambitions, you’d likely get them wrong. If you were asked to name these same things of a best friend, spouse, or close sibling, you’d be able to rattle them off without a problem. Why? Because you know that person, you’ve spent time with him or her, and have invested work into developing a relationship with that person.
It’s absurd to think you can discern God’s voice without spending time with Him. In order to figure out what He’s saying, you must spend time with Him—surrounding yourself with His noise and having a personal relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit.
Here are a few ways to surround yourself with God's noise. Open up your Bible. It doesn’t matter what book or chapter, just open it up and begin to read. God will guide your heart and your eyes to scripture through which He can best speak to you. “For the word of God is living and active . . .” (Hebrews 4:12). It sounds crazy, but as you read, God will put thoughts in your head and ideas in your heart. If you read, He will lead.
Christian music is another way God can speak to your heart. Listening to radio stations like K-Love, Air1, The Message, or a local Christian station gives God a chance to use specific songs to speak to your heart. Reading daily devotionals is another way God will speak to you. As much as you can, surround yourself with Him. The more time you spend together, the more you will get to know His voice.
What is God revealing when you spend time with Him?
Once you are in the habit of spending time with Him, it will be easier to hear His voice and understand His will. When I am struggling with whether to go this way or that, I often take notes.
Seriously, start taking notes. Use the notes app on your phone, make a voice note, or keep a small notebook with you. Your note-taking method doesn’t matter as long as you are documenting it. When you suddenly feel very strongly that you should or shouldn’t do something, stop for a minute to see where you are, what you’re doing, and who or what surrounds you. Write all those things down in your notes. It might look something like this: Right now, as I ______, I feel like God wants me to ______.
When I was trying to decide whether or not to quit teaching, I noticed I was getting two different messages. I started to track when these different messages occurred. When I was surrounded by God’s noise (reading the Bible, listening to Christian music, reading my daily devotionals, or sitting in church), I felt a strong calling to let go of my classroom. When I was in my classroom, in the middle of teaching, I felt like that was the place for me. These conflicting messages were NOT helping me decide where God wanted me.
However, paying attention to my surroundings during those moments helped me to discern God’s voice. My notes revealed that when I was spending time in His word and surrounded by God and His noise, I felt Him telling me to quit. When I was separate from Him and focused on my job, I felt the need to keep going.
If you are struggling with a decision, look at your notes. Are you feeling a consistent message when you are immersed in God’s noise? Do you get a different message when your heart is not focused on Him? Because God speaks through His word that is alive and active, you can be confident that the message you hear when you’re with Him is His voice. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Do you feel peace?
In the middle of wrestling with a decision and trying to hear God’s voice, you likely feel everything but peace. Once you’ve sought His will, spent time with Him, and documented what He has been saying, you will likely have determined what He wants of you. If you have discerned God’s voice, you will find peace. Start praying something like this, “God, I know I’ve heard you. This (verbalize the plan you think you’re supposed to follow) is what I think you want from me. Lord, if this is what you are asking, please give me peace about it and confidence in Your will.”
Give God your heart and let Him work.
Philippians 4:6-7 says this, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If you’ve been praying that your desires match His will and that you are able to discern His voice, He will answer. If what you have prayed about in a prayer like the one above is indeed His will, you will feel an unexplainable peace.
The next step may be scary, unknown, hard, or even crazy. All apprehension and fear will not suddenly disappear because you know it is what God wants. It does not mean you’ll suddenly feel comfortable with this new plan. But if God has led you to it, he will provide peace through it.
Continue to pray, asking God to provide peace and confidence in what you’ve determined is His will. Sleep on it. Pray some more. And continue to surround yourself with His noise and His word and let Him lead you to what is next.