Is it possible for a Christian to know God’s will and not have to agonize over it? Should a believer make a decision without first spending hours in prayer, asking God to reveal His will? Must a Christian avoid making a decision until he or she has a “peace about it”? What about waiting for a “sign” from God? Is it okay for a Christian to consult a psychic or a Ouija board to seek God’s guidance?
A married couple, John and Tina, is faced with a dilemma. They would like to move to Colorado to be closer to John’s family. They’ve been praying about it, asking God to show them His will. Their decision must be made before the end of the week, yet they’re still not sure what God wants them to do — should they stay or should they go?
Naturally John and Tina are confused and frustrated. John is leaning toward moving because he knows it will be good for the kids to live close to their grandparents. He’s even getting excited about it. Not Tina! She wants to wait for a “confirmation,” from God before they pull up stakes and move half way across the country.
John and Tina are in the proverbial pickle.
Many Christians talk about finding God’s will as though it were some deep dark secret, hidden away in the pages of Scripture. Maybe God doesn’t want us to find it.
Where does the Bible teach that God tries to hide His will from us?
Tina and John believe their heavenly Father loves them, yet they’ve decided that He’s hiding His will from them. Maybe God likes playing hide and seek.
Most good parents want what’s best for their children, right? So does it make sense that God would want to hide His will from those He loves? If Tina and John really believe He’s a loving Father, why are they clinging to the ridiculous notion that He wants to keep them in the dark?
If you search the New Testament you’ll find no explicit command to “Find God’s will.” Read through the book of Acts and you’ll see what I mean. The Apostles were given no clear instructions on how they were to discern God’s will. No prayer ritual. No magic formulas. Nothing!
Christians shouldn’t waste their time searching for a magic formula that will cause the Almighty to reveal His will. Since God forbids pagan divination, dabbling in the magic arts is risky business. Yet professed Christians are using eastern meditative techniques hoping to gain secret information that God has not chosen to reveal. Followers of Jesus Christ should never seek supernatural powers. God has determined the means by which we come to Him in prayer — and He set certain boundaries! Try to imagine, if you will, Christians determining the boundaries for themselves. There would be no limits whatsoever!
Some Christians push the limits to the brink. Mystics such as Brennan Manning and Richard Foster believe God can be found within through achieving an altered state of consciousness. Individuals involved in contemplative prayer commune with God through meditation and yoga. By using these techniques they’re able to reach stillness, thus opening themselves to new experiences within, and receiving illumination. Pastor and author Gary Gilley offers this insight into what Christian mystics believe:
[T]he mystic has no confidence in human knowledge accessible through normal means such as the propositional revelation of God (Scripture). If we are to know God, it must come from a mystical union with Him that transcends the rational thought process or even normal sensory experience. This takes place through following the three stages of purgation, illumination and union; implementing the spiritual disciplines and most importantly, practicing contemplative prayer. (Source)
Contemplatives admit that the means they use to commune with God can be dangerous as it invites demon oppression. And for those who are not Christians, it invites demon possession! In Acts 8 we learn that Simon (the sorcerer) Magus was severely rebuked by Peter for seeking supernatural powers. Christ himself criticized the “perverse generation” that always asks for a sign from God.
Looking for signs through coincidences, or flipping through the Bible and placing a finger on a verse, or relying on the first thought to enter your mind after a prayer, are forms of Christian divination.
In order for Christians to mature in their faith they must read and study Scripture, meditate on it (this does not mean eastern meditation), then put its principles into practice. We must put our bibles before all the other books we’re reading. It’s the only book that has God’s direct message to His people:
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word — Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law — Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors — I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me — Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. (Psalm 119:16-35)
An important aspect of reading the Bible is knowing how to interpret Scripture correctly. Paul said to Timothy, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. … 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Tim 2 & 15). We must seek accurate interpretations — and correctly handle the word of truth! That way we will not only know what the words say, but the intended meaning of the words. Christian apologist Greg Koukl makes this point:
Private interpretations do not yield accurate meaning — there is a particular truth — a determinate meaning — God intends to convey. Individual, personalized interpretations that distort this meaning only bring danger.
Stay out of the danger zone! Applying esoteric meanings to Scripture is irresponsible. Anyone who distorts God’s Word does so “to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
I haven’t forgotten about John and Tina. Why haven’t they received an answer from God on the Colorado question? A simple yes or no will do. They’re not expecting God to appear to them in a burning bush or through thunder and lightning as He did with Saul. Why the silence?
We may think God intends to reveal His plan — but what if He chooses not to? What if He has no intention of sharing His plan with us? Part of God’s plan for Job’s life was to allow ghastly things to happen to him. What if Job had known in advance about the losses he would suffer, the pain he would have to endure? The man would never have left his tent! God’s plan for Job was that he should suffer more than any man. God never told Job about His plan. And he never found out why he was made to suffer.
God still speaks to us today–but not through a burning bush! He speaks to us through the pages of Scripture. If we read and study the Bible, we’ll discover that His will for us is not hidden. In fact, it’s crystal clear. So why do so many believers agonize over it? I’ll answer this burning question (pun intended) in Part 2 of this piece. As well, I’ll outline six qualifications that should help Christians determine God’s will for their lives.
Copyright by Marsha West. All rights reserved.