How Do We Find God’s Will?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

One of the most insightful books I’ve ever read is Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God.  Friesen tackles an important practical need that every Christian has.  When I am making an important decision, how do I find God’s will in the matter?

Friesen documents and builds his case in 500 pages, but I want to give you his basic approach in fewer than 700 words.  Early in Friesen’s book, he lays out his “way of wisdom,” which consists of four principles:

1. Where God commands, we must obey.

In the Bible, the term “God’s will” most often refers to all the commands, principles, and promises that God has revealed in the Scriptures. This first biblical meaning of “God’s will” is best described as God’s moral will. It is fully conveyed in the Bible and so does not have to be “found”—just read, learned, and obeyed. . . .  Yet this simple truth cuts deeper into real life than we usually realize. Every action, thought, motive, attitude, and plan is affected by God’s moral will because its commands go beyond outward actions to search the motives and intents of our most secret desires (1 Samuel 16:7).

2. Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.

The second principle . . . starts to answer the question, “What do you do when there is no specific command in the Bible to determine your decision?” Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose. The principle actually is not as radical as it may sound. It does not say that God does not care what we decide. It does not mean that there is no further guidance from God (there are two more principles). It does not say that our decision does not matter or that we can do our own selfish thing. It does say that we are morally free to decide. This freedom is God-given. But alongside that freedom is a God-given responsibility to decide.

Grasping the reality of freedom and responsibility has resulted in a very common response to the first edition of the book: “This book is both liberating and sobering. With freedom comes relief that I am not missing God s will. At the same time, being responsible for my decisions means that I cannot blame bad decisions on God.”

3. Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose.

We are never free to be foolish, stupid, or naive. The freedom in the second principle is limited by the guidance God gives through wisdom. Put differently, wisdom is commanded of believers by the moral will of God and must be applied to all non-commanded decisions. I will support this principle by citing numerous biblical commands that exhort believers to act and choose wisely. I will also illustrate it with scriptural terminology and examples. The wisdom books of the Old Testament make a great contribution and can be taken at face value as models of God’s primary method of guidance.  In the area of freedom, it is God who promises to give wisdom when we ask.

4. When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.

God’s sovereign superintendence of all the particulars assures that after we have followed His guidance in the first three principles, God secretly works all the unknowns and details together for good. He is involved in the smallest particulars even when He does not tell us exactly what to do. This work of God gives the peace of mind that God is guiding in everything.

There they are, the four principles for finding God’s will.  I hope I have whet your appetite enough so that you will buy Friesen’s book.  I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

  • I agree with what Friesen says, at least as summarized above.

    Bottom line is that to know God’s will comes from knowing the Bible and to having a relationship with Christ through His Spirit. People want to hear something very specific from the Lord about some matter that is really only a personal matter irrelevant to God’s overall will. What they want is the easy solution, that God tell them what they should do, instead of the harder (and character building) work of searching out whether there is anything sinful in the decision to be made. God does make things clear, one step at a time, when He calls someone to a very specific task that almost always is different than anything that person would normally be thinking about. Most of the time, though, He wants us to live our life such that it glorifies Him, which means, we have to make the decisions to show we honor Him. Isn’t that the tension between freewill and demonstrating love? There isn’t much demonstration if the tenion is resolved by always hearing a specific word from the Lord on every trivial matter.