I recently wrote as a guest blogger on Awkward Christianity. If you missed the post, "What is This Bible?" you can click on the blog from my Roll. Otherwise, on with this post which my Awkward host prompted by suggesting a book to me, Decision Making and the Will of God: A Biblical Alternative to the Traditional View.
The Amazon listing asks these questions:
"Does God have a perfect will for each Christian? Can you be absolutely sure you’ve found God’s individual will for your life? Most Christians have been taught how to find God’s will, yet many are still unsure whether they’ve found it. God does guide His people, but the question is, 'How does He guide?'"
Without having read the book, I nevertheless would like to answer these questions, having read the Book.
Since the author deals with questions concerning God's individual will, I will address them as well. But know this, God has His priorities, and His perfect will comes first. So frame your questions appropriately, for whatever happens in your life afterwards, no matter to Whom or what you attribute your guidance, if you do not first submit to and obey God's perfect will, the rest happens by his permissive will.
His perfect will is this for all Christians. We are His witnesses and His discple-makers. Period. How we go about it gets into both His personal and permissive will. The best route to choose is the personal one. That is the one I shall discuss first.
God's personal, individual will is unique to you. Nobody else has the inside scoop on it. The only will you have in common with other believers is that perfect will given in Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19-20. God wants to personalize that perfect will for you. He uses two methods. First, He has given you spiritual gifts. Every one of them is for the doing of His perfect will (Ephesians 4:12). How you use them is best up to His personal will. If you leave it to yourself, then that is His permissive will. I do not recommend leaving God out of this most important role of your life.
The second method, and the focus of this post, is found in Romans 11:36-12:2. Not a big surprise to my regular readers. Do you want to know God's will? Start with worship. Be right with God, filled with His Spirit, seeking His wisdom from above. That is Romans 11:36. Next, die to self and offer your body a living sacrifice. You can only obey Romans 12:1 if you first obey Romans 6:11. Let God consume you in His holy fire. As you emerge, as Him for His will like in Romans 12:2.
The major hangup that young people have with this is they expect to have to ask this question just once and then be done with it. Sometimes God will answer and tell you His personal will for you and the rest of your life. But other times He will not. He may only tell you His will for the day, or the next hour. Make Romans 11:36-12:2 at least a daily practice. At most, do it every time in follow-up to obeying God's last response.
Jesus calls this being One with Him and the Father. Read John 17 over and over until you get this.
Now if you insist that you just have to know whether or not to go to this Christian college or that one, to date this guy or that gal, or some other major life decision, then take comfort. God is definitely interested. All in good time. I will simply say that if your priority for answers to these questions trumps God's perfect will for you to be a witness and a disciple maker, then you may not have perfectly obeyed Romans 11:36-12:2. You may have come to the throne with your own agenda. Satisfy what you know is God's will first. Then you can boldly come to the throne and ask in Jesus' Name.
It took me a long time to learn these simple truths. I spent years wading through God's permissive will (read "my will"). God may bless at times in all this as He certainly did me. But then we mistakenly interpret that as confirmation that God is in it. Not necessarily. Get after God's heart; don't look for signs. Get your relationship with Him down to just you and Him. Get rid of the expectations, the traditions, and all the other worldly conformance stuff that gets in the way of you offering yourself as a holy, living sacrifice. You come to Him with all your heart and He will tell you His good and acceptable and perfect will.