Have you ever wondered how it might be possible to know God’s will? Well, that is the very topic we will look at both this month and next.
The Collect from 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time reminds the Lord (and ourselves) that “you never deprive of your guidance those you set firm on the foundation of your love.” As I begin this article on receiving God’s guidance, it is good to be reminded by the Liturgy that God never deprives us of His guidance.
The most important thing in our lives is to do God’s will for us. The whole spirituality of Jesus was wrapped up in doing the will of the Father. There are perhaps a dozen passages in the Gospels in which Jesus refers to doing the will of the Father, especially in the Gospel of John. However, in order to DO God’s will for us, we have to KNOW God’s will for us. Therefore, trying to discover God’s will for us is extremely important. How do we do that? That’s what we want to focus on in this article. Because of length, I have broken it into two parts, with the second half coming next month.
In the process of receiving God’s guidance, I have identified ten points or ten steps. Here are the first five.
1. The first and primary requirement to receive guidance from the Lord is to truly DESIRE GOD’S WILL. Psalm 40:8 says, “To do your will, O God, is my delight; your law is within my heart.” We have to try to be detached enough from our own will and desires so as not to “cloud the picture.” In other words, we have to completely surrender as Jesus did in Gethsemani as he prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me; yet not my will but your will be done” (Mark 14:36).
2. The second requirement is to PRAY FOR WISDOM from God so as to be able to discern God’s will. This is something the Lord really wants to give us! James 1:5 says, “If any man lack wisdom let him ask God who gives to all men generously without reproach, and it will be given him. Only let him ask in faith…” Wisdom 9, Solomon’s prayer for wisdom, is an excellent prayer for wisdom to use, either daily or as a novena for a particular need. In Psalm 32:8, the Lord says, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eyes upon you.” Fervent prayer in faith is necessary to receive wisdom and guidance from God. Many people have found that extended prayer using the gift of tongues is very helpful for guidance.
3. The third requirement is to REJECT AND AVOID ALL OCCULT SOURCES. First Chronicles 10:13 tells us that King Saul died for his sin of consulting a medium or fortune-teller. This is nothing to fool around with! We have to be extremely careful because the occult is all around us and very prevalent in our society. The lure of a promise of some kind of “secret knowledge” can be quite strong. In the Book of Leviticus 19:31, it says, “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers (fortune-tellers, seances, wizards, etc.). The Catechism of the Catholic Church strongly forbids consulting occult sources in numbers 2115, 2116, 2117, as a sin against the First Commandment. This whole area is “the devil’s playground,” and obviously NOT the way to get reliable guidance from the Lord. We need to avoid not only what we know as traditionally occult sources, but also the so-called New Age, which is nothing but an attempt to put a new face on the old occult.
4. The fourth step in receiving God’s guidance is to LEARN what God has already commanded or forbidden in Scripture or Church teaching. We don’t have to wonder or pray about whether or not to commit sin! Certain things are GIVEN! In general, math was a difficult subject for me in school. However, I did better in geometry, when some steps in the problem were “given,” and those could be used to arrive at the answer to the problem. Similarly, we don’t need to pray or seek God for answers that are already given! For example, a man and woman who are married to other people, may find that they are attracted to one another. They do not have to ask God if they should commit adultery together! No one really needs to seek guidance about whether to have an abortion. There are many other examples that could be cited, wherein God has already clearly indicated His will. To ask God for some other “guidance” which would contradict his commandment would be tantamount to tempting God. The devil is only too happy to provide us with “signs” to facilitate our disobeying God.
5.The fifth step is that even in matters that God has not commanded or forbidden, we still need to SEEK THE WORD OF GOD for counsel, light and direction. For example, the books of Proverbs, Sirach, Wisdom in the Old Testament and the Gospels and Epistles in the New Testament can shed much light for us in discerning God’s will. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” I think it is true that the more we know God’s Word, the more wisdom we have and the better we can receive God’s guidance.
These are the first five steps in receiving God’s guidance and next month we will cover the other five points.