On Discernment—How Do You Know God’s Will?

Contributed by: Rev. Linda

How do you know God’s will for you? Sometimes it’s apparent and the choice is easy. And sometimes it’s not. Sometimes there are a variety of good paths, good choices -so which one is the one God would have you do?

Fortunately, God doesn’t leave us without help. The Holy Spirit is available always to guide us. But how do you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying?

I have found that personal prayer, free writing without edits and without judgment, meeting with a spiritual director and with fellow clergy and friends, and bible study - have been my best guides when it comes to hearing the Holy Spirit. Sometimes dreams have been a good source of guidance. Through all of this though I have found that trust is essential - trust that God will guide my choice and that if I choose a less helpful path - God will let me know and I can choose again.

If you would like to talk with a clergy person about choices you are facing, I am available. I do not give advice but I am trained in Christian deep listening and in asking helpful questions. Oftentimes, just hearing yourself in the company of someone else who doesn’t judge and who listens deeply is all that is needed. God, through the Spirit, plants wisdom deep in your own heart.

Here is what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth about the gift of discerning God’s will:

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” – these things God has reveled to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. (NRSV).    
1 Corinthians 2: 9-13, 15: