Ways God Reveals His Will to Us

By: Nancy Missler; ©2000
Nancy Missler explains why prayer and fasting are important actions we can use when approaching God to discern His will for our lives.

Introduction

God wants us to seek Him first and then, the promises, the guidance and the direction will come.

There’s a wonderful story in Scripture about a boy who loved God much more than he loved God’s promises. David was nothing more than a shepherd, but one day while he was minding the flock, an old man appeared, told him he was going to be king of Israel, and then anointed him. (1 Samuel 16:12-13)

Can you imagine some dignitary walking into your workplace and telling you that you’re going to be elected president? That’s exactly what happened to David!

How would you handle a promise like that? Many of us would probably give 20 minutes notice, buy a bigger car and head straight for Washington. Yet David went right back to his sheepfold! He could have become obsessed with God’s promise for his future, but instead he sang: “Thy loving-kindness is better than life.” (Psalm 63:3) It seems that David loved the Lord much more than he loved his own destiny, and this is what made him “a man after [God’s] own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14)

So, even though the promises are from God and are true and will be fulfilled in God’s timing and way, it’s important that we not find revelation in them until they actually come to pass. That way, we are always seeking God first, not His promises.

Since it’s so easy to misunderstand or misuse God’s promises, why then does He even bother to communicate with us? The answer is really very simple: Because He is God, because He loves us and because He wants to fellowship with us. He alone knows the future course of human history, and when He chooses to share His secrets with men, He proves Himself to be all-knowing, all-seeing, all-wise and all-loving. Scripture assures us that God’s promises are true, and in the end, everything He has spoken will be understood.[1]

So, the first way God reveals His specific will to us is through His Word. God’s Word tells us what to do and what not to do. He even exhorts us to consume (eat) His Word so that it actually can become a part of us. “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…”(Jeremiah 15:16 NAS)

God Speaks to Us Through Prayer and Fasting

God not only communicates His individual will to us through His Word, He also speaks to us through prayer and fasting. Sometimes we think of prayer as some mysterious spiritual regimen, when, in fact, it is nothing more than simply talking to our Creator. Prayer is asking God what He wants us to do—what His will is—and then, listening for His answers.[2] “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

Prayer is often linked to fasting, which is abstaining from some form of daily nourishment. When we fast, we literally “starve” our body in order to feed our spirit. Fasting is an incredible way of hearing God’s voice more clearly. When our flesh is weakened, our spirit is more sensitive to the Spirit of God. Throughout the Bible, fasting was used to “heighten” or “quicken” the perception of those longing to discern God’s will.

Fasting was a regular discipline for men like Daniel, who “…gave [his] attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting….” (Daniel 9:3 NAS) Later in this same chapter, God’s answer to Daniel comes through the angel Gabriel, who says, “0 Daniel, I have now come forth to give you insight with understanding. At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you….” (Daniel 9:22-23 NAS) Even though Daniel was an incredible man of God, he still had to unlock the door to spiritual understanding through the discipline of prayer and fasting.

Before I teach, I always spend one day fasting for God’s specific will concerning the particular group of people I am about to address. I pray and ask Him what He wants me to know about this engagement, and how He wants me to pray for the people involved. I also ask Him for insight concerning their spiritual condition, and any specific discernment I might need. Since I have a medical reason that prohibits me from fasting for long periods of time, I make the very most out of my one-day fasts! I spend the entire time alone with the Lord, continually talking to Him, loving Him and listening to Him. My times of prayer and fasting have become a delight, simply because I love to be in His presence and to commune with Him.

Some examples in Scripture of those who fasted are Jesus (Matthew 4:2), Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9, 18, 25-29), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), Daniel (Daniel 10:3), Ezra (Ezra 10:6), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4-11) and Paul (2 Corinthians 6:5; 11:27)

God Speaks to Us Through Submission to the Spirit

Not only does God communicate His specific will to us through His Word and through prayer and fasting, He also speaks to us through His Spirit. God’s Word and His Spirit always work together in revealing what Jesus’ will is. Together, God’s Word and His Spirit are known as the “truth”—the Word that becomes the Deed. God’s Word contains His will, and His Spirit is who interprets it for us. In other words, God’s Spirit works alongside God’s Word, not only showing us what His will is, but also giving us personal understanding of how it applies to our life.

Most of us have repeatedly heard the phrase “we must submit to the Lord.” What exactly does this mean? The word “submit” means “to surrender or yield to the authority or power of another.” When one army submits to another, they surrender their power and strength, and they willingly place themselves in the hands of the superior force.

When we initially submit to God and ask Him to come into our life, we become “born again” as John 3:3 says, and we receive God’s Spirit and His new Life.[3] This is the time that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our spirit within our hearts. As we begin to yield, submit and relinquish ourselves to Him, moment by moment, He will be able to control and direct our lives and we will begin to hear His voice.[4]

Notes

  1. 1 Kings 8:56
  2. James 4:2; Psalm 143:8,10
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:5; Titus 3:5
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 8:9; Colossians 1:21-22; Ephesians 5:18; Acts 2:4; 4:31

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