What’s the most important thing in our lives? It is to know and to do God’s will for us. In order to DO God’s will, we have to KNOW God’s will. Therefore, knowing how to receive God’s guidance is extremely important.
In Part One of this article I discussed the first five steps in receiving God’s guidance. This is just a brief recap and reminder of those first five points:
- Desire God’s will.
- Pray for wisdom.
- Reject and avoid all occult sources.
- Learn what God has already commanded or forbidden.
- Seek the Word of God for counsel.
We will continue now with the remaining five steps.
- The sixth step or requirement, in addition to Scripture, would be reading good SPIRITUAL BOOKS, especially the wisdom of the saints and trusted spiritual writers. There is a rich tradition of spiritual wisdom and learning in the Church going back 2000 years! Reading and studying what the saints and doctors (teachers) have to say can give us great help in discernment and guidance. Many saints have written about their struggles in the spiritual life and solutions they have found. Let us not neglect them.
- A seventh step would be SEEKING WISE COUNSEL from those mature in the Lord. This is also a great help in discerning God’s will. Sirach 6:36 says, “If you see a wise man, go early to visit him; let your foot wear out his doorstep.” (Whenever I read this, I always think that you should probably call or text first before arriving at his doorstep too early in the morning!) But there are many passages about seeking wise counsel in the Scriptures, especially in Proverbs and Sirach. Notice that I said, “seek WISE counsel.” Don’t just look for someone that you know will agree with you. Seek someone who can be objective and not swayed by emotion, either his or yours. Find someone who would love you enough to be honest with you and tell you the truth, based on God’s word, about your situation. In this regard, having a good regular confessor or spiritual director, one who is solid in the faith, is a tremendous blessing in helping us discern.
- An eighth step or requirement is to be aware of what God may be saying in YOUR OWN HEART AND MIND, consistent with your own history and experience. At this point, I can almost hear someone saying, “Wait a minute, I thought you warned about listening to our own heart, mind, emotions, etc.” Yes, it is true, our subjective heart and emotions can be deceptive, but if a person has been sincerely trying to love and follow the Lord, especially over a long period of time, it is at least a good starting point, so long as the other steps are not neglected. The presumption here would be that such a person is better able to discern the voice of the Lord when He speaks in the interior movements of the heart. But regardless, EVERYTHING should be submitted to some objective counsel, especially for big decisions. Usually, God will give a deep inner peace and conviction as confirmation as to what His will is, even when His will is difficult.
- Ninth, I just want to mention that St. Ignatius of Loyola has RULES FOR DISCERNMENT OF SPIRITS in his Spiritual Exercises. This would be a specific example of the wisdom of the saints discussed above in the sixth step. These Rules would be well worth reading or researching online to help in discernment.
- Finally, the tenth step is a CAUTION ABOUT SO-CALLED “SIGNS.” More precisely, it would be a caution about being overly preoccupied about seeing “signs” everywhere and basing decisions upon them. Simply put, the interpretation of signs can be very subjective and needs to be well-balanced by all the other objective requirements mentioned above. Signs are most helpful when they confirm a decision already made using the other steps already discussed. Many stupid and destructive things have been done by failing to heed solid guidance and depending on something as unreliable as “signs.”
In conclusion to this article on Receiving God’s Guidance, let’s emphasize these important points:
- Let us renew our desire to know and do God’s will…nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
- Let us trust that God wants to teach us and guide us. He has promised that and will not deceive us. The enemy comes to deceive… to lie, steal, kill, and destroy. The Lord brings us light, truth, and peace.
- Let us sincerely ask the Lord, Our Lady, St Joseph and all the other saints and angels for their intercession that we may always know and obey the Lord’s will.