The desire for direction and divine guidance is universal. In every culture, the wise and learned are revered and their answers sought by those struggling with decisions. Unfortunately, this wisdom is often the manmade variety and can lead to catastrophe, since every human being is fallible and our wisdom often questionable (1 Corinthians 1:20). When man seeks supernatural wisdom, he often turns to the spirit world by consulting mediums, witches, or other avenues forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:14). However, Isaiah 8:19 says, “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?”
So how do we receive answers from God? If our hearts are set to truly seek His wisdom, how do we find it? Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” So God promises that those who seek His counsel with all their hearts will find it. However, there are several factors that must be in place before we can claim this promise:
1. We must do it God’s way. The Lord God Almighty is not a slot machine or a genie who grants wishes. But often that is the subconscious attitude of those who claim to want His guidance. Many live life as their own bosses, but, when faced with tragedy or heartache, become temporarily interested in God. If we want direction from God, we must come to Him the only way He provides for such relationship—through His Son. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Our only access to the Father is when we come through the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son. When we make Jesus the Lord of our lives, we become the children of God (John 1:12; Romans 10:9–10). God’s promises in Scripture are for His children. So when we come to Him in the way He has provided, we can claim His promises for wisdom and guidance (Proverbs 3:5–6; James 1:5).
2. We must know what God’s Word says. There is much guidance already given to us, and we need only to read it in the Bible. We do not need to seek direction about whether or not to sin. If God has already stated something in His Word, He will not contradict it. He will not instruct us to murder someone, steal, or commit adultery. Prohibitions against such things are already clearly stated in His Word, and He expects us to follow them (Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20). For example, many unmarried couples try to insist that “God understands” the fact that they are sleeping together before marriage. Some even claim that they “prayed about it and feel it’s OK.” This thinking is in clear defiance of God’s stated commands against sexual immorality (Hebrews 13:4). To justify sin by saying that God has made an exception to His own commands is to reveal one does not really want the guidance of God.
3. We must be in continual fellowship with the Holy Spirit. God speaks not only through His Word but through the confirmations of His Spirit within us. Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” How does He “bear witness with our spirit”? When we are born again (John 3:3), the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts and changes us into “new creatures” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our human spirits that were once dead and under the control of our flesh are made alive with new power and a desire that come from God Himself (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:5). As we give Him more control over every area of our lives, He speaks within our spirits, convicting of sin, guiding toward wisdom, and confirming His pleasure at our obedience (Psalm 16:11; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Colossians 1:10; Galatians 5:22).
4. We must ask for divine guidance. James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” When our hearts are in right relationship to God, then James 1:5 assures us that we can ask for wisdom and believe that we have received it. We can ask that He guide us into all truth (John 16:13; Psalm 25:5). When we ask in faith, we can then move forward with confidence in the direction that appears wisest, asking all the time for God to shut any door that He did not open. We move ahead with eyes wide open, staying in prayer and seeking God’s answer with a heart to obey.
5. We must be willing to obey when He gives us guidance. Often, when people say they want to know God’s will, what they really mean is this: “I want to know God’s will—and then I’ll decide whether or not I’m going to do it.” God already knows the deep things of our hearts and many times will not reveal His plan to a stubborn heart who will not obey (Psalm 51:10–12; Proverbs 1:28–29; John 14:24; Isaiah 1:15–16). Surrender must accompany any prayer request. He does not exist to do our bidding; we exist for His pleasure and His glory. He desires to work in our lives to accomplish His purposes for us (Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:16).
The Lord is a communicating God, and He delights in giving divine guidance to those who seek Him (Proverbs 20:24). He wants to direct the heart surrendered to Him. When we come to Him in the way He has provided for us, when we seek His wisdom with a heart to obey (Proverbs 3:13), then we can walk in the confidence that He is directing our paths (Proverbs 3:5–6).