How to discern God’s will

Exclusive: Greg Laurie has 3 principles for discovering His purpose


I have been a Christian since 1970. I wish I could say that after all these years of walking with God, I have discovered the foolproof, one-two-three plan whereby I can know the will of God in every situation. Unfortunately, I don’t have this plan. Such a plan does not exist.

I, like any other Christian, have often found myself stumbling into the will of God. There have been times when God has spoken to my heart, I have made a move, and it has been what he wanted me to do. There have been other times when I have been wandering through life, doing whatever I do, and I end up right in the middle of God’s perfect plan. I don’t know that we can always have a guaranteed, foolproof method of knowing his plan in every situation. But I do think there are steps we can take to prepare our hearts to more effectively know his will.

 Understand this: God does not play hide-and-seek. He wants to reveal himself to you. And it might come as a surprise to you that God wants to lead you even more than you want to be led. God is concerned about revealing his will to us today, and we need to learn how to discern the will of God.

God said of Abraham, his servant, “Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” (Genesis 18:17 NLT) When you have a relationship with God, he will reveal his plan for your life. Jesus said, “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 that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15 NKJV).

What I have found is that friends reveal secrets to friends. When something really good happens, what do you do? You call your friend. “I got a raise.” “I got an A.” “That girl actually acknowledged my existence.” “I just got fired.” “Something bad happened.” You call a friend and bear your heart to him or her. That is what friends are for. The Bible says, “The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14 NLT). When you are a friend of God, he wants to reveal his secrets to you. God does want to reveal his purpose and plan for your life.

Sometimes we want to make this far too mystical. I will see some preachers on TV who will talk about the dialogues they have with God, and I will have to admit that I am very suspicious of some of them. They go on about this conversation they had with God and how God has revealed this or that to them, and some pretty bizarre things come out. I am skeptical of this. I think a lot of them maybe had a little too many anchovies on their pizza the night before, or they are just making all of it up. The Bible even says, “What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!” (Ezekiel 13:3)

What I think is that God speaks to us many times in simple patterns that we don’t necessarily understand. For example, I love to get new electronic gadgets, but I hate to read the directions. Wouldn’t it be silly if I purchased a new mobile phone and said, “I am going to sit here and pray that somehow the company’s chairman of the board will transmit a message to me right now and reveal to me how to program the phone numbers of my friends and family into my new phone.” That would be ridiculous. What I need to do is break out the manual and read it.

There are people who will say, “I need to know the will of God. I am just asking him to reveal it in a supernatural way. I am asking him to show me.”

Get out the user’s manual and read it. God has revealed his will to us in the pages of Scripture.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with your saying, “Lord, I need to know your will about this specific area of my life.” James 1:5, 6 says:

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.”

There is nothing wrong with asking God for his will. There is a Jewish proverb that says, “It is better to ask the way 10 times than to take the wrong road once.”

So what are some principles for knowing the will of God specifically?

First, God speaks through the Bible. He will never lead us contrary to what the Bible says. It is our bedrock. It is our absolute. The Bible is the clear revelation that we are to measure all other so-called revelations by. The way we know whether something is true or right is by comparing it to what the Scripture teaches.

Second, God speaks to us through circumstances. This is where we ask for confirmation. Let’s say that I have been reading the Bible and am feeling impressed to do a certain thing. So I say, “Lord, confirm this through circumstances.” But don’t base your entire situation on circumstances, because circumstances can sometimes lead you in the wrong direction.

Third, You need to have the peace of God. I have learned to listen to the peace of God. If you are not a Christian, then you don’t know what I am talking about. But if you are, then I think you do. There is the peace of God that helps to confirm whether you are in the will of God.

I have found that I need to get all of these things lined up together to know the will of God.

Would you like to start discovering his plan and purpose for you? Would you like to have a friendship with God? God’s will for you is to come into a relationship with Him. If you have never taken that step, you can take it today.