Discerning the Will of God

Guiding Scripture: [God] “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee…” (Psalm 32:8)

Discerning the will of God is almost never simple, quick, or easy. What worked for Mr. Jones may not work for Mrs. Smith. What worked for you yesterday may not work well for you tomorrow. God moves in mysterious ways—and communicates in many different ways. This article presents helps and precepts to aid in the process of discerning God’s leading for your life.

Knowing the will of God is key to finding peace and purpose in life. As western culture is very formula and marketing-driven, many expect that the process of discerning the will of God should be able to be expressed as a slogan, formula or recipe. That is not the case. Discerning God’s will involves many variables and changing constants. This requires the seeker to remain open and dependent on God for prompting and guidance.

One can never say, “God can’t be calling me to _____, for that has never been done that way before. Or, “God can’t be asking me to do____________________ because I had success in doing ______________ another way in the past. Discerning the will of God is not about having a certain feeling or following a particular formula—it is about being sensitive to the subtle promptings of the Spirit that incrementally guide the perceptive seeker in the direction they ought to go.

The foundational truth of this study (and Christendom) is that true peace and happiness are obtainable only by fulfilling God’s will. To fulfill God’s will, one must first know what God’s will is. This teaching will note a few insights regarding how to know God’s will, how to discern between God’s leading and Satan’s clever deceptions, and how to identify (and avoid) the common roadblocks to being able to perceive God’s leading.

Discerning the will of God can be challenging. Our prayer is that the notes below will help individuals grow in their ability to both discern His leading and receive His blessing.


Consider following these notes as you  listen to the teaching linked at the bottom of this page

Believers are to look to God to direct their steps via the opening and closing of doors. A few support verses are noted below.

  • “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: “This is the message from the One Who is holy and true. He has the key that belonged to David, and when He opens a door, no one can close it, and when He closes it, no one can open it” (Rev. 3:7).
  • “…pray also for us, that God would open unto us a door…to speak the mystery of Christ…” (Colossians 4:3)
  • “The [Apostles] traveled through the region of…Galatia because the Holy Spirit did not let them preach…in the province of Asia. When they reached the border of Mysia, they tried to go into the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.” (Acts 16:5-7).

God has a plan, and desires to reveal His plan

So then, one does not need to rely on their plan, or wonder if the Lord will reveal His leading, but how the Lord will reveal his leading. Consider the verses below.

  • [God] “I know the plans I have for you…” (Jeremiah 29:11a)
  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
  • “The secret of the Lord is with those that fear Him.” (Psalm 25:14)
  • “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…” (Psalm 37:23)
  • [God] “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee…” (Psalm 32:8)
  • “The holy God of Israel, the LORD who saves you, says: “I am the LORD your God, the one who wants to teach you for your own good and direct you in the way you should go” (Isaiah 48:17)
  • “When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth” (John 16:13)

God reveals His plans in many different ways

Possible hindrances to perceiving God’s leading

Remember, God is sovereign. His will/way/timing/choice for you is perfect

God is never late—He never forgets or falters. His plans exceed our dreams. We can put our trust in Him.

  • “How great are God’s riches! How deep are his wisdom and knowledge! Who can explain his decisions? Who can understand his ways?” (Romans 11:33)
  • “This God—how perfect are his deeds…” (2 Samuel 22:31)


Discerning God’s will can be difficult—but it is essential to being able to live a life of peace and purpose. The challenge is twofold: We must be able to discern His will and have the courage to embrace and follow His leading. The wise pray daily that the Spirit will aid in these two key areas.

Know that God extends help by the Holy Spirit: Scripture promises that the Spirit imparts power (Acts 1:8), wisdom (James 1:5) and a special connection to God via prayer (Romans 8:26).

Motivation comes from remembering God’s Promises:  1) God loves you and has a plan for you    2) His plan for you is not good—it is great     3) His path for you will not be the easiest, shortest, most comfortable or most convenient.  Great hardship is to be expected, but so is a great reward.

Our God is wondrously creative: Expect Him to reveal His leading in wondrously creative ways. Be open. Be careful. Be prayerful. Be plugged-into a ministry that can pray with you and help you discern His leading—particularly on the difficult and larger issues. Be patient and remember the Scriptural principle: If you seek Him, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

As noted early-on in this article, discerning the will of God is not about following a formula, but there are steps one must take (the paragraph above notes a few). The first step in being able to discern His will is to be in relationship with the One who referred to Himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). His name is Jesus Christ.

Entering into relationship with the Lord begins when one confesses their sins, turns to God, and accepts Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior. From that decision flows forgiveness, joy, hope, the promise of eternity in heaven, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit which, among other things, provides guidance, peace, strength, wisdom, and direction to the believer. For more information on this, please review the files on this page: iamawatchman.com/category/im-all-in/how-can-i-know-im-saved/

Here is a link to the live worship-hour teaching on Discerning the Will of God

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