By Mark Verkler
I have people come in all the time asking what God’s will is for their life. This should be an important question for all of us. Over the years, I’ve taught this to hundreds of people, and the number one prerequisite to knowing God’s will is a willingness to do it, no matter what it is. There’s a great verse that’s very straightforward showing this. In Luke 6:46, Jesus says, “But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say?” The name Lord, which is kind of out of use in these days, of course, would have been very familiar to them. This is someone that you are completely surrendered to and completely submitted to as a superior, like a king or the lord of a province. Jesus says the starting point is to call Him, Lord, Lord, to surrender to Him, and then do the things that He says. He pairs them both together.
A great man of God from the 1800s was George Mueller. I learned a lot from him, including the six steps to knowing God’s will. He and his wife and their ministry ran an orphanage that housed up to 2,500 children back in the 1800s without any government help or big church help, it was all by faith. He had to make these decisions about God’s Will over and over and over every day, and he developed a system of how he did it.
Number one, I seek at the beginning, to get my heart into such a state, that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. 90% of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. George says when one is truly in the state, it’s usually but a little way to the knowledge of what God’s will is. Let me tell you, it’s easy to be deceived. I might say, God, isn’t your will for me to get this new car? I really want the new car. You have to pull yourself back to get surrendered. Or maybe you’re asking God’s will about if you should go to this local university or go across the country. I’m trying to know God’s will on a big decision or a small decision. You must be honest with yourself. Take some time to pull yourself back from whichever way you’re leaning towards. Jesus did this in the garden when he prayed three times, not my will, Lord, but Your will be done. He was truly getting himself to a place of surrender. So, if you can do that, avoid and overcome deception, and get yourself to a place of true surrender, that is the first and vital step to knowing God’s will.
After you do this, you don’t just put your finger in the air and see which way the wind is blowing. You can, as George Mueller said, make yourself open to great delusions. There are several other steps you must do.
After you get surrendered, the next step is to seek the will of the Spirit of God through or in connection with the Word of God. “The Spirit and the Word must be combined”, Muller says, “if I look to the spirit alone, without the word, I lay myself open to great delusions. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, he will do it according to the scriptures and never contrary to them.” As I’m in the Word, the Bible says that the word is cleansing me. It’s opening my eyes; it’s making me able to connect with God and hear from him more.
In step four, he says, “I take into account providential circumstances.” Notice what he’s doing. He’s built a foundation of complete surrender: Jesus is Lord, and I’m surrendered, whether it’s left or right. And then we are not just going to feeling or impression. We need to go into the word, but also consider providential circumstances. Muller says, “these often plainly indicate God’s will, in connection with his word, or spirit.” I hear this all the time from people that get to the place of surrender; they’ll have a friend call out of the blue in connection with this decision they’re making, or they’ll hear a message at the next church service they go to, or they’ll be reading a book, and it identifies that exact issue. They get this providential circumstance from God that lines up with either the left or the right.
George waits until step five to ask God specifically what His will is. Step five, “I asked God in prayer, to reveal his will to me specifically.” So, you see, the first four steps are preparing himself, getting himself surrendered, and getting himself in the word looking for providential circumstances. In step five, he asked God specifically, okay, Lord, is it left or is it right?
As a final step, Muller says, “Through prayer to God, the study of the Word and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability, and knowledge. And if my mind is still at peace, and continues, after two or three more times of prayer, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I found this method always effective.” I want to highlight the most important part of this. Let’s say on Thursday morning at 7 am, he comes to a deliberate judgment that he believes God’s will is left. On Thursday evening, he goes back and prays and says, Lord, is it really left, because it seems like you’re saying left? He sees if there’s peace in his spirit. If he has peace for two or three more times of prayer, he proceeds, whether it’s something large or something small. Those are some of the most important principles I can give you for knowing God’s will. Having a clear conscience is a part of it also. But I want you to understand one of the great teachings on how to know God’s will from George Mueller. I’ve applied this in my own life and with many, many clients over a lot of years.