It’s a question so many of us ask ourselves more than once in our lives: “How Can I Know God’s Will?” The quest to do God’s will is usually something we pursue at pivotal points in our lives: graduations, marriage, children, careers, etc. However, knowing God’s Will has a far deeper and richer meaning than what we may consider in our determination to know the answer.
Our humanness tends to make discerning the will of God more complicated than what it is because the answer to the question isn’t nearly as difficult as it may seem.
Understanding how to know God’s Will may seem simple, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to follow, which is why whenever this question is posed to me either by the women I work with or by my three kids, there really hasn’t been a simple answer. However, as I was recently reading the Bible during my bursts of quiet with God (that’s what I call my daily morning devotions), it was so very very clear that I personally have been missing this concept for all these years. And, here the Apostle Paul gave it to us directly a long time ago.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 in all of it’s easy-to-read language of various translations gives us one of the answers to one of the most common questions:
The King James Version (KJV) translates it: 16 Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
The English Standard Version (ESV) translates it: 16Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The New Living Translation (NLT) says: 16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
The Message (MSG) says: 16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
Which of the translations above is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.
Four translations and they basically all say very much the same thing: The Will of God is to:
#1 REJOICE | BE JOYFUL
#2 PRAY ALWAYS
#3 GIVE THANKS | BE THANKFUL
See–simple…but wait a minute; simple doesn’t mean easy. The question that plagues us all from time-to-time was answered ages ago by the Apostle Paul. Numerous theologians, interpreters and translators can’t really change it can they? Why? Because it’s very straight forward. It’s simple to acknowledge and understand the language, but it’s not so easy to understand how and even more difficult to apply.
#1 REJOICE | BE JOYFUL
Definition of Joy: a source or cause of delight
How can we really be joyful and rejoice at all times. Life is filled with so many disappointments, pains and struggles. There is NO way we can always be happy. Correct. Happiness and Joy are not the same. Joy is fuller, reacher, deeper, eternal. Joy isn’t dependent on our circumstances; joy comes from a SOURCE that is beyond our emotions. Joy flows deep when we step outside of ourselves and look to God for that infusion of great joy. So how do rejoice always? We focus not on the circumstance, but on what we are being taught and on the work God is doing in and through us for his greater purpose. When we can step away from our situations and live daily to bring honor to our Heavenly Father, we can be filled with abundant joy even on the darkest days because it’s not about us; it’s about Him.
#2 PRAY ALWAYS
Definition of “Always:” at all times
How do we really pray at all times? It’s IMPOSSIBLE to always be in prayer right? Wrong. When Paul is indicating that we can pray always, it doesn’t mean on our knees 24/7; it’s more about cultivating a heart of prayer. It’s practicing the very essence of God and his fullness. Praying always then is living a life of worship and honor and exalting God with our very lives. Again, it’s not about us and what prayer can do for us; it’s about God and praising Him for what He has done for us.
#3 GIVE THANKS | BE THANKFUL
Definition of “Thankful:” conscious of benefit received
The biggest part of number 3 for knowing the will of God is giving thanks in ALL circumstances. Oh boy. That’s kind of hard. Do I really have to be thankful for people who aren’t nice to me? Do I have to be thankful during difficulty? Do I have to be thankful for ………? When we nurture a heart that is thankful, we know that even in the middle of the muck of life, we still have something to be thankful for. God loves his own and He is at work and providing for us–even if we don’t always see the provision. I love how Nancy Leigh DeMoss articulated living a thankful life in her book: Choosing Gratitude:
Cultivating a thankful heart is a safeguard against becoming bitter, prickly, and sour. A grateful child of God can’t help but be a joyful, peaceful, radiant person.
~Nancy Leigh DeMoss
So, although these three qualities are not necessarily telling you or me or my kids what their life path is with regard to the will of God, living a live that is filled with joy, prayer and a thankful heart will lead us to living a life according to God’s will. There are, of course, countless more Scriptures and guidelines for living a holy life and committing our desires to the Lord; however, knowing God’s will and living it are all dependent on staying close to Him. Enjoying a real relationship with Him. It’s not all take “give me; give me; give me; show me; show me; show me.” It’s more about recognizing Him and who He is and what He is doing as we journey down the path of life. The Bible is full of the answers to knowing God’s will, and knowing and living according to His great will starts with knowing Him and worshiping Him.
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (I Chronicles 16:4)
“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (Psalm 119:36-37)
When we make it about him; the way is paved before us and He will show you, your kids, your spouse, and all of us the path He has chosen for us. Seek Him.
This article may not have addressed exactly what you were looking for regarding the Will of God–and it really doesn’t address my own questions; however, it’s purpose is to realize that the will of God is not about what we want; it’s about what He wants and the provision and path He has for us. I recently listened to an excellent message by Andy Stanley regarding this topic. It was Part 1 of a 3 part series. Click here to watch it. In the message, Andy made a profound statement that I copied below:
The more familiar we become with the providential will of God, and the more surrendered we become to the moral will of God, the easier it will be to determine and understand and discern the personal will of God.
~ Andy Stanley
Really–to know God’s Will for our lives, we need to first know God and be in a relationship with Him. A deep, intimate relationship of getting to know Him better, and we can only do that when we intentionally put in the effort of spending devoted time with Him.
If this post was helpful, please be sure to leave a comment in the section below. Also, if you are looking for a vibrant and lively way to spend more devoted time with the Master, then be sure to check out BURSTing with Fruit. We are offering a FREE trial during the month of May. Contact me today (and put in the subject line: BURSTing with Fruit FREE Trial) and let me know you want the FREE trial of BURSTing with Fruit and I will send you a FREE downloadable journal.
For more reading to understand God’s Will, check out:
I Thessalonians 4:5
I Corinthians 1:1
I Peter 2:15
I Peter 4:19
I John 2:17
There are countless other Scriptures that talk about God’s will. Seek them and you will find his good and perfect will. God bless!