Proverbs 3:6 gives instruction and promise: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (NKJV). To desire to acknowledge the Lord and closely follow His leading is a wonderful thing. Filling out the context, Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” So, acknowledging God starts with trusting Him and not trusting our own wisdom.
To acknowledge God in all our ways is to “know Him” (which is how the Hebrew could be translated). It is to recognize that God is the One who works in our lives in power, wisdom, goodness, and justice (see Ephesians 3:20). He is worthy of following.
Here are a number of areas of practical importance in the life of a Christian who seeks to acknowledge the Lord in all his ways:
• We will begin to acknowledge God in all our ways when we contemplate just how completely God has forgiven us. The Lord loves you intimately and has forgiven you completely. Meditate on Psalm 103:11–12; Romans 8:1; Colossians 1:22.
• We will learn to acknowledge God in all our ways when we read the Word of God faithfully. It’s your guidebook to get to know God and grow in His wisdom. There’s always something new to discover in Scripture. Love it. Study it. Memorize it. Think about what it says. As you read, look for what God is like—His character. Look for a truth you need to believe, and look for something you need to do. Apply it to your life.
• To acknowledge God in all our ways, we must allow the Bible to transform us. Be humble and ready to obey. In this way we participate in our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3– 5; Titus 2:11–14). If the Word shines a light into your soul and reveals an area of sin in your life, be ready to confess it and forsake it. Genuinely repent of the sin and ask God to help you to do what is right—whatever it takes! If you feel you have been “directing your own path,” ask the Lord for forgiveness, naming the specific occasions when you know you were running your own way. Thank Him for His forgiveness, and make it your goal to please the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:9).
• A major part of acknowledging God in all our ways is to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God loves you. He cares about you and wants a relationship with you—not that you follow a legalistic, self-defeating list of rules that leaves you wondering if you ever can “do enough.” Share with your Heavenly Father your joys, fears, goals, desires, and failures. We can’t hide our thoughts from God, anyway, and we shouldn’t try. Pray the words of Scripture. Worship Him. Thank Him for His blessings and for the trials, because you know He will work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Pray when you have your time with Him in the Word and carry on a continual conversation with Him throughout the day wherever you are.
• To help us acknowledge God in all our ways, we should be part of a good, Bible-believing church (Hebrews 10:24–25). We do not go to church simply to meet our own needs, but to be an encouragement to others. Our church family becomes our extended spiritual family. As you grow in maturity, you will discover a desire to serve. God will place in your heart an area of ministry, and when you begin to serve, it will bring joy to yourself and others. Your pastor can guide you into where you can use your gifts to effectively serve the Lord.
The more you know God, the more you will love Him. The more you love Him, the more you will want to obey Him, because you know that will please Him. The way won’t always be easy, but if we trust Him, we are able to rest in His will for us and let Him direct our paths.
Acknowledging God in all your ways can be described this way: “Set him before thee; have him always in view; consider him as ever present with thee, observing every step thou takest; and take not one step without his leave, and without his advice; ask wisdom of him who gives liberally; consult his word, and make the Scriptures thy counselors . . . ; take him as your guide; observe the footsteps of his providence; follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes; walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; when things go cross and adverse, and not to your mind, submit to his sovereignty; and be still and know that he is God, that does all things right, for his own glory and his people’s good, Psalm 46:10; and when things succeed, give him the glory of all; own his hand in it, and the bounty of it; acknowledge that all you have, in providence and grace, come from him” (John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible, “Proverbs 3:6”).