We’ve all been there before. A job offer in another city comes along, but there are pros and cons. We’ve fallen in love, and we wonder if this person is the one. There’s an important decision to be made. So we begin to pray and ask God to guide us toward the choice that is best for us and pleases Him. But how does that work? How can we tell which way He is leading us? Allow me to offer some guidelines from my experiences of both getting it right and wrong.
The first step in sensing God’s leadership takes place within us. If you truly want to hear from God and do what He wants you to do, then you must be willing to accept whatever God says. In other words, either option must be equally OK. So many people approach this process unwilling to hear anything except what they want to hear, and their prayers are prayed to obtain God’s stamp of approval on their desires. If you’ve already made up your mind, then there’s little point in asking God to lead you.
“If you’ve already made up your mind, then there’s little point in asking God to lead you.”
Once you are willing to accept whatever God directs, you’re ready to begin asking and listening. I like to be alone for this part of the process. Get somewhere quiet and begin to lay out each option. Make a list of the positive and negatives of each choice, carefully considering what life would look like if that were God’s choice for you.
Then begin to be quiet and listen. What are you listening for? You’re listening for peace. An wise, elderly pastor gave me some advice I’ll never forget. He said, “The way of God is the way of peace.” If you lay out each option before God and don’t rush God’s answer, you will begin to feel a sense of peace in one direction or the other. That will likely be God’s choice for you. The other direction will give you sense of uneasiness and trepidation.
There are two dynamics in this process that will work against you. The first is already having your mind made up before you begin. The other is impatience. Rarely have I prayed and received God’s answer before I said Amen. Sometimes it’s taken a couple of days or more, and more than once the circumstance changed while I was waiting, and the answer became crystal clear.
Hearing God’s voice can be very difficult, and I don’t mean to imply that there is a simple formula that evokes a response from God whenever we desire one. On the contrary, hearing from God happens strictly on His timetable and not ours. But I also know that God delights in leading our lives and answering our prayers, and we approach Him with humility, no agenda, and patience, God will speak to us.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. And if you have more to add to this process, I would invite your comments.