Posted by: L. E. Barnes | September 30, 2011

Seeking God’s Will

MOST HIGH, glorious God,

enlighten the darkness of my heart,
and give me right faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
wisdom and understanding,
Lord, that I may carry out
your holy and true command.

Amen.
–St. Francis’s Prayer for Discerning God’s Will
How do you discern God’s will?
I’m not asking a rhetorical question, by the way. I’d really like to know how you, my Christian brothers and sisters, have gone about discerning God’s will for your lives. Has it been as simple as uttering a brief prayer, such as the one above, attributed to St. Francis? Or has it been a more arduous process involving not just prayer but other steps to determine where God is leading you?
You see, I’m currently at a crossroads in my life. Or rather, I feel I’ve been stuck at a crossroads for quite some time for a variety of reasons. The main issue is what direction to take careerwise, though I’m also in need of guidance regarding some spiritual and other matters.
Anyway, I’d love to hear about your experiences–not so much advice, but your stories. What did you do, and how did the Lord speak to you or reveal His will?
And prayers are appreciated, as I feel like I need all the assistance I can get right now!
In the meanwhile, I’ll keep trying out Bruce Wilkinson’s advice and pray the prayer of Jabez (found in 1 Chron. 4:10):Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: “Oh, that you may truly bless me and extend my boundaries! May your hand be with me and make me free of misfortune, without pain!” And God granted his prayer.
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Responses

  1. Evan, what really helped me in discernment and in spiritual growth was taking time for personal prayer every day and also seeing a spiritual director. These two things have made the biggest difference in my life.
    You are in my prayers for sure! God bless!

    • Thanks! I wish I knew of a good local spiritual director…

  2. Evan, I wrote a post on September 13 about discernment: http://www.sufferingwithjoy.com/2011/09/13/discernment/ . It’s a step by step process a Benedictine nun in the diocese of Tulsa uses and I found it very helpful.

    Most of the time God has me in the dark and I only find out later on what His reasons are for allowing certain things to happen in my life. However, at times, such as starting my blog, He opens doors easily. Look for open doors – literally and figuratively. I pray for guidance and look for confirmation. If at any time it appears to be a “no” from Him, I give up and move on.

    If there are any good Benedictine monasteries near you (orthodox, not modernist), it’s worth a drive to visit and ask for a monk to be your spiritual director. You can’t go wrong with a holy monk helping you. The cloistered Benedictines are as good as those who are not. You’d think a cloistered monk wouldn’t know the ways of the world, but you’d be surprised at the insight they have. Listen to what the priest says in confession. Very often it seems like God talking directly to me.

    I’ll pray for you to find the right person to help you. Lay everything in God’s hands and don’t be afraid of making a mistake. As long as we breathe mistakes can be fixed. God has a specific plan for you and no one else. Be confident that He won’t keep it a secret from you.

    • Thanks for the advice and prayers. There is a Benedictine monastery several hours away from where I live. I visited there one time a few years ago for a combination spiritual retreat and vocational discernment weekend. It would be great if there were a good spiritual director nearby, and both the priests at my parish have their hands more than full as it is. So I’ll probably have to settle for other ways of hearing from the Lord.

  3. The trouble with seeking God’s will is that He doesn’t put a big billboard out there to make it perfectly obvious. I think the most important thing is to pray constantly and repeatedly, “Lord, Your will be done. Show me your will.” And if you can pray that often enough and sincerely enough, then you just have to move forward and make a decision, and trust that God will form your will in union with His.

    My parents used to say that when things were easy, it was a sign that they were doing what they were supposed to. Sometimes I think that’s true. But not always, unfortunately.

    And it might also be good to keep in mind that not all decisions have a moral component; God may have use for you in more than one direction.

    • Good points, Kathleen.

      Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are strong examples of people who received incredibly dramatic and unmistakably clear calling experiences. After all, God literally appeared to them and spoke directly to them, telling them what His will was for them. Some of the saints likewise received clear, miraculous callings to dedicate themselves to a specific vocation. Francis of Assissi immediately comes to mind. However, in most cases God makes His will known to us in much more subtle ways, requiring us to learn to be attuned to His guidance.

      And you’re right about how sometimes when we’re doing God’s will things will actually be anything but easy for us. Just look at the life of the prophet Jeremiah; he suffered tremendously for following the prophetic vocation the Lord gave him–and at times he absolutely fusses at God because of all the hardships he was enduring!

      Thanks for your input!

  4. As with the others, talking to a spiritual director or (orthodox) priest, has helped me when I was discerning something. Daily prayer, especially mass, too.

    Another thing I’ve learned from experience is when I am at peace with the decision, it has usually been God’s will for me. But, if I felt a disquiet or unrest in my heart about something, it usually isn’t God’s will. I know this because when I have felt disquiet about a decision and made it any way, it always turned out to be a disaster.

    Will be praying for you!

    • I appreciate your prayers!

      It would be great if there were a trusted spiritual director I could turn to in my area, but there aren’t any that I’ve been able to find out about.

      I’m certainly trying to stay attuned to any promptings from the Holy Spirit; at present, I’m not feeling much of anything one way or the other. Perhaps I need more time in prayer and discernment.


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