There is simply so much bad theology out there it taken us this long to get to the ‘how to.” Much of the how to, I’ve already mentioned, so here I’ll just summarize. We need not do much hand-wringing if we keep some basic stuff in mind.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
First, this means is that we have to realize that God does not lead everybody. (Eph. 2:1-10)
The works prepared beforehand apply to Christians-they are result of faith, not the cause.
As we follow the Lord he will providentially give us opportunities to do good works that he ordained in eternity past. We can confident then that what ever we do for his glory is indeed within His will, whether it’s in Moldavia or your home town!
Second, our walk with God
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. (Eph. 5:18)
Essentially this means the daily dying to self, turning from sin and pursuing righteousness. It means not being prideful, following our fleshly desires instead of walking in the Spirit. As noted earlier, sometimes people seek to sanctify or spiritualize their desires to get what they want. That’s delusion and contradicts the actions of love in 1 Cor. 13:4-8.
Third, recognize God’s Sovereignty
He owns it all. He ordains all that comes to pass. He does not need us to accomplish His will but chooses to do so. This takes the pressure off us. Remember that God ordains the ends as well as the means so it need not be a spooky process to discover God’s will!
Fourth, pray for Wisdom and
Remember again that God ordains the ends and the means. Here is how author Dave Swavely so aptly puts it.
“…the purpose of prayer is not to change God or His plan. Instead, our prayer is one of the ways God has chosen to accomplish His plan in the world…Through prayer we have the privilege of being part of God’s great work, as we pray, we grow to be more like him.” --Decisions, Decisions, P. Dave Swavely
This is how God put is through the apostle Paul, and James:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NASB)
Fifth, remember Scripture is Sufficient 2 Tim 3:16-17
In this way, I mean God’s gives us all the guidance we need from His word and from God honoring principles extracted from His Word. By studying it and hiding it away in our hearts we can be reasonably sure our desires and His are the same.
Matt 28:19-20 says for example that we are to make disciples everywhere we can. Clearly, if that’s our desire, it sure is God’s and will give us the opportunities.
Ps. 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Note that a prerequisite for good decision making is to have a delight in the Lord.
Matthew Henry: To delight in God is as much a privilege as a duty. He has not promised to gratify the appetites of the body, and the humours of the fancy, but the desires of the renewed, sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and serve God.