By Viggo Olsen, M.D.
The fact that God, the Creator of this immense universe, cares about each of us, wants to guide us along life’s pathway, and has a personal plan for each of our lives is one of the most inspiring ideas the human mind could contemplate. The Christian Scriptures make clear that the idea is factual. Those who write or speak about this concept use various terms to express it: understanding God’s will, discovering God’s direction, detecting God’s desire, learning God’s leading, gaining God’s guidance, perceiving God’s plan.
“That sounds great! I want it,” you say, “but how do I find it!” Prepare yourself! There are four preparatory steps or prerequisites stated or implied in a classical New Testament passage, Romans 12:1-2 (Berkeley, italics added)
I beg you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not conform to the present world system, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so as to sense for yourselves what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The four prerequisites for perceiving God’s plan are:
1. Salvation. Make the great faith derision, accepting Christ into your own life as the Saviour He came to be.
2. Dedication. Present (give, yield, dedicate) yourself completely to God, telling Him that you are fully His, that you will do anything He asks and go anywhere He sends you.
3. Separation. Clean up your life. Separate yourself from the wrong and evil things in this world. They will obstruct your ability to gain God’s guidance.
4. Transformation. Daily study the Scriptures and talk to God to keep yourself growing, maturing, and changing for the better.
Divine guidance is essentially a matter of God applying inner impressions on your mind. He gives you peace of mind when you decide correctly and remain on the track. When you decide wrongly, get off
the track; or, when it is time for the next step in your program, He withholds or withdraws this peace of mind. The Father’s plan is not like a blueprint laid out on a drawing board with every detail visible
at one glance. God’s plan for you, rather, is like a scroll which reveals His will bit by bit as the scroll is unrolled. Unrolling your scroll completely will take a lifetime.
The four steps in discovering God’s will are (1) erase and pray, (2) read and remember, (3) consider and think, and (4) decide and check.
1. Erase and pray. Make a conscious mental effort to erase your own desire as though you were erasing a blackboard clean, so that God can imprint upon your mental chalkboard His will and plan for you. Then
pray, asking God to finish the erasing process (especially in the subconscious part of your mind which is so hard to reach), guide you, reveal His plan to you, and give you wisdom to decide correctly.
2. Read and remember. Read pertinent portions of the Scripture, for God already has revealed His will about hundreds of subjects. Obtain a topical concordance so that you can quickly and easily find Bible
massages which deal with the subject at hand. Even if the Scripture does not speak directly to the decision before you, remember the great principles of God’s Word which apply to many decisions, and ask
yourself these questions:
a) Could I do this in Jesus’ name! (Col 3:17).
b) Can I imagine Jesus doing this or deciding this way! (I Jn 2:6).
c) Will this action bring any glory to God! (I Co 10:31).
d) Would I want to be found doing this when the Lord returns! (I Jn 2:28).
e) Will this action bring impurity or useless harm to my body, which is the temple of God’s Spirit! (I Co 6:19-20).
f) Will this activity be a hindrance which will hamper my spiritual progress! (Heb 12:1).
g) Will my following this decision offend another Christian, cause him to stumble, or make him weak! (Ro 14:21).
h) Will this action be a help or a hindrance to non-Christians around me! (Mt 5:16).
3. Consider and think. Consider the ways that are open before you, the available options. Write them down, then consider them more carefully one by one. Consider, too, the circumstances surrounding you and your
decision; the circumstances sometimes point clearly in a certain direction. Do not hesitate to consider also the advice of mature Christian friends or parents (they know you so well). Think and meditate over all aspects of the question at hand. If many factors are involved, draw a line down a piece of paper and list the factors pro and con. Prayerfully meditate over your list until the decisive factors become clear.
4. Decide and check. Don’t let the matter ride indefinitely and miss God’s guidance by default. Decide! Check for peace of mind. If you decide correctly regarding God’s will or plan for you, He signals you,
“Correct decision there,” by a wonderful sense of inner peace. If you have decided wrongly, the peace of mind will not come. And what if peace does not come! Then you must return to step number one and start all over again. The trouble usually lies right there-you never really erased your own will in the first place.
In matters large and small I have found this approach to knowing God’s will and finding His personal plan practical and successful.
(The above material was published from The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.)