It appears that many Christians wonder about and pray for what the “will of God” is for them specifically. I see their queries for prayer at times on Facebook. They usually seem to be about one of life’s big decisions–you know, whether to go to college or get a job, or which job to take, or what path to follow in ministry, or whether to have the house special for lunch instead of their usual chicken sandwich.
Forty years as a therapist has confirmed the obvious–that many people are insecure and want guidance in their decisions. Often they ask me, and sometimes I foolishly give them advice–forgetting that the best counsel is often non-directive. Frequently they want confirmation for some decision they’ve already made. It’s best for me to be non-directive with my secular clients. It’s easier working with Christians. I can sometimes cite a Bible verse about their issue, and I can always urge them to pray, and I can pray with them. A well-known Christian counselor has described Christian counseling as: “Private lessons in applied theology.”
I don’t mean to knock folks seeking answers about life’s big questions. I’ve prayed for guidance more times than I’d care to admit, but I’ve kind of come to not expect any answers. And I interpret the silence as God saying, “Trust Me.” Usually, He reveals His will in gentle and sometimes not-so-gentle shoves in a specific direction–you know, an unexpected door opening when another has closed.
There have only been two times when I heard His voice. The first time was in 1979, when prompted in a Tim LaHaye book, I read the “Sinner’s Prayer.” I was sincere but skeptical. A voice in my head quiet unlike anything I’d ever heard before said: “Carl, where have you been all these years? I’ve been waiting for you.” I was shaken to the core. It was like a surge of electricity ran thru my body, and at that moment I was convinced that God existed, and that I mattered to Him. I have never had any serious doubts since then. The second time I heard The Voice was in the Spring of 2002, when I was fervently praying about a specific issue, and The Voice said: “Trust me; just have faith.” This happened at a time when I believed in God, but betrayed by my lifestyle, obviously didn’t trust Him. I mistakenly applied that answer to a specific issue, but months afterward I could appreciate the validity of the message, as later that year God began to teach me about trust.
Anyway, God does tell us in Scripture what His specific will is for us:
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks:
for this is the WILL OF CHRIST JESUS CONCERNING YOU.”
I Thes. 5:16-18
Those three short verses from First Thessalonians were illuminated for me during a sermon by Pastor Joel Hunter in April, 1995. He said, “this is the God of the universe communicating His will for you thru the church’s greatest theologian, Paul. It is meant specifically for you.” I took it as such, and those instructions made a tremendous difference in my ability to cope with chronic depression.
The key to coping with almost any issue, and in spiritual warfare, is Joy and Thanksgiving . We are urged to rejoice and give thanks in every circumstance. We were given a hint about this By Nehemiah in 8:10 when he told us that the “Joy of the Lord” is our strength. Joy and thanksgiving are powerful tools and our ability to embrace them is also the measure of our Christian maturity. Graham Cooke points out in one of his teachings that prayer is most effective as in this passage–sandwiched between rejoicing and giving thanks.
So rejoice! You now know God’s will for you, if you didn’t already.