Here are 3 wise things to do when you really want something but you are not sure if it is God’s will for you.
1. When You Want Something But You Aren’t Sure It’s God’s Will, You Must First Understand What “God’s Will” Actually Means
Many of our questions about knowing God’s will can be solved by first understanding what “God’s will” actually means according to the Bible.
Essentially, the term “God’s will” is used in two different ways throughout the Bible. By correctly categorizing your question you can more easily find your answer.
The first type of “God’s will” is his “sovereign will.” This is what God has ordained to happen and nothing you do or don’t do can change this. For example, it was God’s will for Jesus to die for us (Isaiah 53:10). Though this occurred through the free choices of sinful people, ultimately God brought it about by his will (Acts 2:23).
The second type of “God’s will” is his “will of command.” This is what God has commanded us to do in his word but which we can disobey or obey. For example, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 states, “. . . give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” You can disobey “God’s will” here if you do not give thanks to him in all circumstances.
These truths are important to understand because you narrow down your options by correctly categorizing the type of question you are asking God. For example, if you are asking him a question about his will that can be answered through studying the word, then it’s simple to know if you are following God’s will or not. You’d be amazed at how often someone asks me questions like, “Can I have premarital sex if I really love my boyfriend?” (1 Corinthians 6:18) or “I really love an unbeliever and want to marry her. What should I do?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). God’s word never changes (Psalm 33:11). It’s always God’s will that you live a biblical life and it’s never God’s will for you to live a sinful life.
If you are asking if something is “God’s sovereign will” for you, things can get a little more complicated. Which brings me to point 2.
2. If You Want Something But You Are Not Sure It’s God’s Will, You Must First Pray and Then Pursue It
I’m not leaving you with the generic answer of, “Just pray about it.” But I also don’t want to skip over the massive necessity to ask God in prayer, “What is your will here for me?” If you just sense the Holy Spirit saying, “Yes, this is my will for you,” or, “No, this is not my will for you,” then great. Your question about “what is God’s will for you” has been answered.
However, if that was the case, you probably would not have felt compelled to click on this article. You are probably asking if this thing you want is God’s will because you are unsure of what God is saying to you about this when you pray about it.
When this occurs, it can be helpful to ask God a different question. Most people ask, “Is this thing I want your will for me?” Sometimes God won’t answer that right away. But if you instead ask God, “Is it okay for me to pursue this thing I want?” oftentimes you will then sense God giving you an answer.
Sometimes we ask questions too far down the line. Sometimes we need to ask more questions about our immediate choices rather than distant possibilities. If you ask God if you are allowed to pursue this thing you want, he may just say, “No.” And then you have your answer. Oftentimes, however, if it’s not something sinful but you just aren’t sure if God will give you this thing one day, God will say, “Yes, you are free to pursue it,” which is not a promise you will receive it.
Paul often used this tactic. For example, 1 Corinthians 4:19 states, “But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills . . . .” Paul was going to find out if it was God’s will for him to come to them soon by trying to come to them soon. If he was prevented, he would conclude it was not God’s will for him to do this thing he wanted. He used the same method in Acts 18:21, “But on taking leave of them he said, ‘I will return to you if God wills,’ and he set sail from Ephesus.”
Once you then pursue it, then God will reveal more about your other question regarding if you will have this one day. For example, if you make moves towards someone you want to date, and it goes well, this is a positive sign God is saying yes. But if you make moves towards this person and it does not go well, God is probably saying, “No, this is not my will for you even though you want it.”
3. If You Are Unsure If This Thing You Want Is God’s Will, You Must First Become Radically Accepting
When you link your belief in God’s love for you to a specific earthly blessing, you will oftentimes be unable to accept God’s will. In other words, because you know God does love you, but you are wrongly associating God’s love with one specific earthly blessing, you are forcing yourself to only receive one answer from God because you believe that is the only way God can show his love for you.
But when you realize God’s love for us goes beyond our human understanding, when you accept that God can see past our idolatry of earthly things, and when you can accept God disciplines those he loves, you will then be free to receive a yes or a no from God.
Notice how Paul found God’s answer to his question by being radically accepting of God’s will. Philippians 1:21-26 (NIV) states:
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”
Paul actually wanted to depart and be with Christ. But he did not know what God’s will was for him here? But by being radically accepting towards God, God’s will then became clearer to him.
If you want God’s will to become clearer to you, you too must have this type of radical acceptance towards God. Only when you are ready to receive any answer from God will you then be able to actually hear God’s answer to you.