What does God want from us? – 6 ways to hear from God


We often ask ourselves:

  • What does God want me to do?
  • Which way is best?
  • Which choice should I make?

Discerning God’s will is not always easy.

First, we have to believe God does have plans for us. Then, we have to believe we can find out what they are.

But as J. I. Packer points out in Knowing God, even when we believe the former, that God does want to guide us, we often have trouble believing the latter, that we’re capable of receiving the message.

Why? Packer gives 6 reasons why we may miss hearing from God. I’m flipping them onto their positive side for . . .

 6 ways we can hear from God:

  1. Think it through
    “God made us thinking beings, and He guides our minds as in His presence we think things out.”
  2. Think ahead
    “Weigh the long-term consequences of alternative courses of action. ‘Think ahead’ is part of the divine rule of life no less than of the human rule of the road.”
  3. Listen to advice
    “There are always people who know the Bible, human nature, and our own gifts and limitations, better than we do, and even if we cannot finally accept their advice, nothing but good will come to us from carefully weighing what they say.”
  4. Question yourself
    “We need to ask ourselves why we ‘feel’ a particular course to be right, and make ourselves give reasons. . . . We also need to keep praying, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart.”
  5. Use caution with others
    “Outstanding men are not, indeed, necessarily wrong, but they are not necessarily right, either! They, and their views, must be respected, but may not be idolised.”
  6. Be willing to wait
    “God is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not His way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.”

But even if we do these things, will we always know the exact decisions to make? Of course not.

I agree with Elisabeth Ellliot,

“If you are thinking that you know the will of God for your life and you are anxious to do that, you are probably in for a very rude awakening because nobody knows the will of God for his entire life.”

But along with Packer, I do believe that even though we won’t hear every little answer (go right, turn left), God does bring us out of darkness into light despite ourselves.

And even when we get off track (which we all do), we can trust that God will not only get us back on course, but that he will take our mess-ups and weave them into a greater plan.

So ultimately, what does God want from us?

Not to frantically think we have to find the correct answer to everything, or to have total assurance for every decision we make.

But to believe that he has it all under control.

Trust him for whatever comes.

That’s what he wants. Trust him.

“Whatever happens, whatever mistakes we may make, we shall come safe home.

Slipping and strayings there will be, no doubt, but the everlasting arms are beneath us; we shall be caught, rescued, restored. This is God’s promise; this is how good He is.”

* * *

Do you have trouble making decisions? What helps you finally decide? Please share in the comments.

This is Week 10 of 11 of Knowing God together with Tim Challies.


Previous chapters:

Next (and LAST) week:

  • Chapter 21 and 22, “These Inward Trials” and “The Adequacy of God”

11 thoughts on “What does God want from us? – 6 ways to hear from God

  1. Jerralea

    Lisa, thank you for sharing this! I’ve been wrestling with a decision our church board (of which I’m a part) had to make. I wanted so desperately to not make a mistake that I was almost helplessly bound by fear. But God is bigger than any mistake I can make. Even if our decision was wrong, our heart was in the right place, and He will bring good out of it.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, yes, yes, Jerralea. That fear of making the wrong decision can be so paralyzing. I’m glad for the comfort of knowing that God can work miracles through our decisions, right or wrong ones. It’s so freeing! Praying for blessed outcomes from your decision on the church board.

  2. Barbara H.

    I flipped those six principles to the positive, too. I used to often agonize over God’s will in decisions. While we need to be careful and prayerful, we can trust that if we want His guidance, He will guide us. It would be nice to be able to get a direct answer sometimes, to be able to ask an oracle or cast lots – but I think this way makes us more dependent on God, which is best overall.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Funny that we both flipped them to the positive. ha. I used to agonize more over decisions than I do now too. One thing that helped me learn to let it go was Kevin DeYoung’s book, “Just Do Something.” I drew a lot of peace from it on moving forward and knowing that God has got us. Yes, I would love more direct answers at times too—how much easier that would make things (I think!), but yeah, I might not be as dependent on God overall if I didn’t have to take step after step in faith.

  3. Jean Wise

    Lisa I really like how you flipped them to the positive. Discernment is such a foundational need – something I also want to write more about. Journaling helps me in the process – I get the exact words down on paper, and let them stew. Your last point of waiting and listening is also very important. Thanks for an insightful post. could be a great article…

  4. floyd

    I was reading the six points agreeing in my mind and checking them off mentally as if I could really stack up. Then I got to the last one… “Be willing to wait”… Yeah… I fail pretty regularly at that one. It’s amazing with all the reminders we get in life to gather up some wisdom and it still eludes some of us like the first time.

    Thanks for the reminder, Lisa. That gives me hope!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Willingness to wait may be among the hardest for me, too, Floyd. So hard to be patient when we want to see change or hear direction right now. I’m glad God is patient with us though. 🙂

  5. Howard M Harris

    I believe when we pray in Faith our Lord will answer in such a way that leaves us with a heart filled with the knowledge of His Blessing

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