Most of us desire to be guided by God. We do not want to wander aimlessly through life, or make wrong choices. But it is very easy to find ourselves confused about what God wants from us, and desires for us. This is especially so when we are considering actions and choices which have significant and practical consequences for our lives. Sometimes we feel that if only an angel would visit us then everything would be clear. Yet we only have to remember the angelic messages given to the Virgin Mary, and to Zachariah. The Virgin Mary had grown up in the Temple and was used to receiving the visits of angels. Therefore when she received the word of God from Gabriel, she committed herself to it in obedience, but she did not understand how it might come about. And when the angel visited Zachariah, he also could not comprehend how God’s word could be fulfilled, but this led him to doubt, even in the angel’s presence. And in the Old Testament, when Abraham entertained his angelic visitors, his wife Sarah, hearing the Lord say that she would bear a child in her old age laughed in disbelief. So we should not imagine that having an angel appear to us would take away all of our doubts and confusions.
It seems to me that several things are required of us if we hope to be guided by God in our lives, and be found doing his will, and many of these things are quite ordinary and demand perseverance rather than an experience of miracles and exceptional events. These are preconditions, I believe, which we have to be trying to fulfill in our lies, in whatever partial manner we may find is possible for us, by the grace of God, otherwise, it seems to me, we cannot expect to be guided by God.
#1 – We must be willing to commit our lives to God, to doing his will, and to seeking and following his guidance. If we are not willing to commit our lives to God and his service then we will not be willing to obey his will, and if we are not willing to be obedient then we will find it harder to understand God’s will. This does not mean that God abandons us, rather it is that we have turned our faces away from him and following our own will he does not force himself upon us, and it seems that he becomes silent. In truth, it is us who become hard of hearing.
Our Lord Jesus Christ says to us,
Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Very often we hesitate to commit our whole life to God. We are afraid that he will ask us to do something we do not want to, or that he will take away from us all the things we enjoy. We have a sense that God demands religious things of us, but all the practical aspects of our life should be more or less left to us to sort out. There is even that practice we sometimes fall into of doing what we want ourselves, and then asking God to bless what we have already chosen to do, as if that was doing God’s will.
But if we do not allow God to have authority over our lives then we cannot expect to be guided by him. The guidance of God is not partial, as if we could say that we would follow his will here and there, but will look after things ourselves in this and that aspect of our life. If we create no-go areas in our lives, where God is not allowed, then we are closing our whole heart, whatever we say to ourselves.
So we must seek the Kingdom of God, first and above all things, and God promises to provide all else that we need in our lives, both to do his will, and for life itself. And it is our Lord Jesus Christ who also says to us,
The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
What does our Lord Jesus ask of us, indeed what is the chief commandment? It is that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He asks for all of us, and promises all that we need in return. And if we wish to be guided by God then this must be our starting point. We find this in the attitude and instruction of the Virgin Mary. In the first place, she says to the word of God given to her by the angelic visitor – Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word. And then in the second place, she says to the servants at the Wedding in Cana – Do whatever he says to you.
This is the attitude, it seems to me, which is required of us if we wish to be guided by God. Or at least it is the first attitude. The more we are able and willing to give our life to God, trusting in him, then the greater the degree of our experiencing the guidance of God. We should not underestimate the difficulty in giving ourselves to God in such a way, at the beginning of our journey of faith, or when we have grown used to following our own will. We may be afraid, at first, of all manner of consequences in trusting God with our whole heart. But we should pray, Lord, I offer myself entirely to you, filled with weakness and anxiety of every kind. But I ask that you will take the gift of my life, and grant in return all the grace and experience of the divine life which is necessary for me to hear your word and respond in obedience. When we pray in such a way, God will hear and honour our desire, whatever the weakness and fear we find in our heart.
#2 – But more is required of us than seeking with our whole heart to be guided by God, though that is the necessary beginning. We must start to make use of every word we receive from, God, every small opportunity he gives us to be guided and to show ourselves obedient, so that we become able to more easily hear his voice. When St Anthony heard the Gospel being read – If you would be perfect, go sell all you have, give to the poor and come follow me – he took it as a word to himself, and found grace and courage to obey. For most of us, there is wisdom in beginning with the ordinary obedience of every day life, unless we do receive such a strong sense of hearing a word we must obey.
How do we begin to find the guidance of God, and the grace to obey, in the ordinary things? It seems to me that there are several aspects. I have sometimes thought about visiting the monastery of St Anthony, and climbing the mountain to his cave, and perhaps meeting Father Lazarus and speaking with him. But I always imagine that he would throw stones down at me from the heights and shout at me saying – Go and do what you already know to do, before you come seeking something else! Of course I would not expect him to do this, but this is what God seems to say to me as I think about this. Why do you want to receive more instruction when you have not put into practice what you have already been taught?
The first aspect of that way of obedience which is proper for all Christians, is to seek to deepen our spiritual experience of God. We cannot hear God very clearly if we are far from him. In Jeremiah the Lord says,
Pray to me, and I will listen to you. And seek me out, and you will find me, because you will seek me with your whole heart, and I will appear to you.
We should not expect to be guided by God if we do not seek him with our whole heart. In practice, it seems to me, this means that we must become like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and commended by him, rather than Martha, who was busy with so much activity in her own strength and wisdom that she had no time for Jesus. But it is easy for us to imagine that we should always be busy, with our own plans and with service in the Church. This is a mistaken notion. We are not called to be busy but to be obedient, and obedience requires us to wait and listen for the word of God, and to do those things we already know we should do.
Our daily prayer life is the basis of our experience of life with God, nourished and sustained by the sacraments. If we wish to be guided by God, then it is this relationship which must be the central focus of our concern. Often we do not think that this is the right way to find God’s will for some special situation in our life. This is usually because we are taking care of everything in our lives in our own will and wisdom, and have only turned to God because this is a more significant issue. But we should not expect to find guidance if we have failed to seek it in everything else, and we are sometime left confused when it seems that God does not speak or act. But the problem is that we have not listened or obeyed, often over many years.
What shall we do? We must decide that with God’s grace we will now seek to enter into a closer union by the indwelling Holy Spirit. God does not usually shout at us. The various exiles and captivities of the Jewish people were all the last resort. The people of God had ignored his messengers for so many years. It was not what God had wanted for his people. Likewise, we sometimes turn to God only in the last resort, and this is better than never turning to him at all, but it is not his will. He wants us to live in union with him by the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we can hear his still, small voice, a voice that whispers and comforts.
We begin with the Eucharist. In this sacrament the Word of God gives us his own body and blood, which is the means by which we sustain our union with him. It does not matter so much if we do not have wonderful feelings, especially if we feel that we must draw closer to God. This is where we are beginning. We must receive these divine gifts as they are given to us, for life and salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ himself says,
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.
If we wish to be guided by God then we need his divine life within us, and he must become Emmanuel, God within us, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. And so the beginning must be to receive Christ himself as he offers himself to us in the Eucharist. We can do nothing without him. Do we need some other instruction other than this which Christ gives us? There are reasons why we might avoid the Liturgy, but if we are serious about seeking the guidance of God in all things, then we must attend the services of the Church, try to put all negative thoughts about others, or ourselves, away from us, and seek only to receive Christ in humility, with repentance, with faith and in hope.
This divine medicine, this true bread of Heaven, is the necessary basis of our spiritual life, and therefore our union with God by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We begin to receive guidance when we begin to obey what we have already been taught. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
But this nourishment must be worked out in our lives if we are to grow into union with God and hear his voice, guiding us and encouraging us. This working out is accomplished in prayer. The one who is guided by God is the one who prays, because it is in prayer that we enter into God’s presence, and it is only in God’s presence that we hear his voice. The life of prayer requires two things of us. In the first place we must develop a regular practice of prayer. This is not because we have to please a distant and remote God by religious actions, but because prayer is union with God, and it is to be transfigured by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We pray from the Agpeya, the collection of prayers developed in our Coptic Orthodox community. It may not be possible for us to pray very much from the prayers given for each of the Hours. But it is necessary for us to establish a habit of prayer. The Psalmist David says,
Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.
This must be the minimum if we want to receive guidance from God, because if we will not even step into God’s presence for these few times in the day then we are perhaps not as serious about seeking guidance as we would like to think. We may perhaps begin by praying the Introductory Prayers and Psalm from the Morning and Evening Hour. But it is better to pray, habitually, as much as possible in the Morning and Evening. These prayers teach us the proper attitude of one who is seeking to be guided by God. Not least in the Lord’s Prayer which says,
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
If it is possible then is good to memorise the Morning and Evening prayers, or as much of them as possible. This allows us to establish our habit of entering into the presence of God. But more than this, we need to seek to be in a spirit of prayer as much as possible in each day. Our Lord Jesus tells the parable about the persistent widow,
He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.
The persistent widow, like the parable of the neighbour with a hungry visitor, teaches us that prayer is not to be an occasional practice but an unceasing behaviour and mode of being. St Paul makes this very explicit when he says,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do we want to know God’s will for us? St Paul teaches us here. This is where we must put in the effort, the ascesis. To become those who have learned to rejoice, pray and give thanks always, as indeed the Agpeya teaches us when it says,
We give you thanks on every occasion, in every occasion, and for every occasion.
This takes time, even a life time. But we can and must begin now. Here is how we may make a start. Firstly, we should begin to examine our thoughts and attitudes and not live life in a daze. We should become more critical of ourselves, in a positive and constructive manner. When we discover a sinful thought or attitude we must resist it and repent immediately, asking for forgiveness and grace to overcome the weakness. When we find ourselves facing temptation, we must call out for God’s help and strength. If we become more aware of our own internal activity then we will discover countless opportunities to turn to God in prayer.
But we should also give thanks to God, for all of the gifts which he gives to us each day. When we wake up in the morning we should be sure to thank God for the new day, and for all the blessings we enjoy. And through the day we should thank God for all the blessings we experience from his hands and through the lives of those we meet. And in the evening we should gather together our thanks for what we have received from God, even the strength to endure difficult trials of many kinds. When we make an effort to thank God we are also finding ourselves in prayer, and in praying we discover ourselves in the healing presence of God. We do not need to feel thankful, though that will surely come if we persevere. But we do need to give thanks.
And we should seek to pray at all times. In our Orthodox Tradition we practice the Jesus Prayer, that short prayer which says – Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. It has a variety of forms. But what is necessary is that we begin to make it a habit to call very often on the name of Jesus, and in doing so we discover ourselves in his divine presence. We may begin in the morning and evening by adding this prayer 10 or 20 times. Prayed with attention and care, it is not magic, but is always a prayer. And in our daily activities, driving the car, walking the dog, shopping, doing all sorts of things, we should choose to pray this prayer as much as we can. In doing so we will create a habit that will often bring these words to our mind. This is not quite the same as prayer. But when the words of the prayer rise up in our minds we are given an opportunity to turn our heart and attention to them and make them a prayer, stepping into the presence of God.
When we take up this practice, together with frequent repentance and giving thanks, we will discover, as St Paul instructs us, that we are praying without ceasing, or certainly we are praying more frequently than before, and with the possibility of always increasing our communion with God.
Why have I written all this without really speaking about the guidance of God? It is because if we wish to be guided by God then we must draw close to him. And if we wish to grow close to him, to experience union with God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, then we must become spiritual men and women, filled with the grace of God in the Eucharist in which Christ promises to give himself to us, and in the life of Prayer, through which we begin to dwell in God’s presence in the inner place of the heart.
When we are seeking the guidance of God, it seems to me that the first thing we must do is stop seeking an immediate answer, however pressing the circumstances. We must begin with seeking to draw closer to God. It is only in an increasing union with God that we will hear his will, and receive the grace we need to be obedient. So we must begin with seeking grace and committing ourselves to prayer as union with God, not a way of pleasing God. If we have some issue that is much on our minds, then the first thing to do is to establish a life of prayer, in the morning and evening, throughout the day, focused on the presence of God, not an immediate solution to our problem.
#3 – It is this context of seeking to be more spiritual that we can hope to be guided by God. How can we achieve this? There are several usual means by which God guides us, it seems to me.
Spiritual Guidance – It is good for us all to have someone in the Church with whom we can discuss those things which are on our heart and mind. For most of us this will be our Father of Confession and our Parish Priest. But in the life of the Church there are others who often become for us a useful means of considering our lives and seeking the guidance of God. These others should be those we have come to know as being committed themselves to the spiritual life, and who are able to speak in love and with humility. It is a blessing when we have a handful of such people in our lives, or even just one person. But we should certainly consider carefully the words of our own priest and spiritual father, and not easily reject his advice. We are not in a relationship of absolute obedience to others, we are not monks or nuns under obedience to an Abbot or Abbess. But we should listen to those who care for us, and have a spiritual concern for us, and discover whether God is speaking to us through them. How can we tell? We should have a sense of peace about what is said, even if it is difficult for us. A sense that this is right and true, even if it exposes some weakness in us. The more significant the guidance we are seeking, the greater should we expect to have a peace about what is said, even if this requires us to continue in prayer with a great deal of effort, asking that this guidance be confirmed in other ways.
The Bible – I could have included these thoughts with those above concerning prayer. If we are praying very much every day, as we must, then we should also read a portion of Scripture every day, the Gospel for the Liturgy of the day for instance. This is easily available on line or on a smartphone app. When we read a portion of the Gospels, prayerfully and thoughtfully, we may discover that some passage, or sentence, or phrase particularly stands out and seems to speak to us. This is one means by which we may be often guided. I do not mean that we will always receive some answer to whatever problem with think we are facing, but that God will very often speak to us in the way that we need, for our salvation, when we turn prayerfully and seriously to the Bible.
God is not only concerned with the things that we think are important. He knows what we need to become that unique person he created to live in union with him. This is why we must be careful to listen and seek to obey. For instance, in the Gospel to be read today in the Coptic Orthodox Tradition, I am struck with one passage in particular.
And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Now it would be easy to just leap on this passage and assume it mean that I can ask God for anything and he promises to give it. If we have not become very spiritual this is perhaps what we will read and understand. But if we have begun to be men and women of prayer we will see that we must ask in God’s name and we will ask ourselves whether we are able to ask in his name at all, and what sort of people we must become to speak in such a way. The one who is not spiritual finds himself confirmed in his worldliness. The one who is becoming spiritual finds himself confirmed in his difficult journey into union with God.
But the passage also says,
In Me you may have peace.
The un-spiritual man complains, I go to Church, where is this peace?! But the spiritual man or woman understands that this is inviting us to seek a closer union with God by the indwelling Holy Spirit, so that we might experience peace, the fruit of the Spirit. Such a reading of Scripture, day by day, does not immediately answer the question – Should I take this new job?! But God is not a fortune cookie or a horoscope. And as we read a portion of the Gospels each day, or some other passage from the Scriptures, we should expect God to speak to us by the Holy Spirit, making some aspect of our reading stand out, and when he will, speaking directly to our most pressing concerns.
#4 – But I would suggest that much of the practice of being guided by God occurs in very prosaic matters. It is in the simple things that we gain experience and practice in hearing and obeying God’s voice. This is to be expected, since our Lord Jesus says to us regarding hearing and understanding the word of God,
For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
If we have begun to hear God’s word then we must put it into practice, otherwise the understanding we have will be lost, while for the one who seeks to be obedient, their understanding and hearing of God’s word will increase. How does this begin? It begins always in humble obedience to those things we already know. This is why I spoke of prayer and reading the Scripture first.
But it extends into daily life. Where do we have the opportunity to be obedient and to serve, and in this obedient service to find the will of God for us? Let us start with our homes. Whatever our age and position, are we ready to serve those others with whom we live in our household? This is the beginning of hearing God’s word, since our Lord Jesus Christ himself says,
If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.
This also is fundamental and universal guidance from God. We say, Lord, guide me about the job, and he says, remember these words, become the servant of all. Are we able to try to put this into practice? It seems necessary to me, if we desire further word of God’s will. If we have not begun to obey these words given to all then how will we hear the word given to us in particular?
When someone asks you to do something at home, try to do it immediately, and so fulfill the will of God for us all. If we are parents, then let us serve our children in love. If we are children, let us serve our parents and siblings with respect and honour. If we are husband and wife, let us serve each other as we look to our own needs. The account of the desert monk should be before us. He was called by his spiritual father, and he leapt up from the place where he was copying the Gospel and left the letter he was working on unfinished in his haste to be obedient in his service.
But this ordinary service extends beyond our household and into our workplace and schools and universities. In every place we should look to see where this is a need that God draws our attention to, and consider in our heart how we could be of service. It may mean no ore than opening a door for someone with their hands full. It might mean noticing for the first time that someone is sitting alone, and choosing to sit with them. It might mean not volunteering for the job that everyone wants, and volunteering for the job that nobody wants.
This is not irrelevant to our being guided by God. It is in these things that we begin to learn to be guided by him. It is not that God does not speak, but that we do not hear. And it is only in responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit who brings the will of God to our attention in these simplest of things, that we begin to learn to hear the word of God.
Even the way we drive must become transparent to the activity and leading of the Holy Spirit, so that we are more careful and sensitive of others. We should notice the needs of other road users, we should be aware of the car patiently waiting to pull into traffic. Even in this we must begin to learn to be guided by God, since this means, essentially, to be more aware of the movement of the Holy Spirit, and more perceptive of the world as God sees it. And it is in these simple things, which will require a transformation of our heart, that we begin to learn and begin to be transformed. If we cannot serve our parents or siblings then how can we serve God? If we cannot serve the person we work with or meet in the class, then how can we serve God and be guided by him, since he asks us to begin by serving all people?
#5 – A change of attitude towards life and the events of our life is required. If we have given our life to God then we are no longer our own. As St Paul says,
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
And if we are not our own, and our life belongs to God, so that we are workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, and not our own boss, then many things do not matter as much as before. The Master of the Vineyard tells us where to work, and what work we should be doing, and who we should be working with. And if we are trustworthy and faithful workers then we get on with what he asks of us.
Many of us spend a great deal of time asking WHY things have happened. But it is usually impossible for us to understand the complex and almost infinite web of connections that lead to something happening. I was driving many hours to serve the Liturgy in a place, and on the way I had a puncture in one of the tyres. I began to ask WHY it had happened as I stood on the cold road side. But I came to understand that this was the wrong question. I could never know WHY it happened. But I could ask WHAT. What should I be doing in this situation. And that changes everything. The word of the Agpeya came to mind in that situation,
O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.
This should give us comfort each day. The things that happen to us are not always good at all, but God is with us in them all. Therefore we should find peace in our daily activities because we are called to conduct them in God’s presence and in service to him.
More than this, God guides us to consider the problems we have today, and not worry about those of tomorrow. Will we follow and obey this instruction. Will we reduce the anxiety horizon we often construct for ourselves, where we worry about things that may not even happen, weeks and months in advance? This is also necessary for us if we wish to be guided by God. Not only must we become spiritual people, rooted in the experience of union with God in unceasing prayer, not only must we become those who are always seeking to serve those whom God places in our way, but we must live to a much greater extent in and for each day as it is given to us by God.
This means that we should not make great plans for ourselves, even while we must also do what is necessary for us to fulfill our responsibilities towards others. When we make plans for ourselves, even if we offer these to God, this is not the same as seeking God’s will. These plans that we have constructed then become a burden for us, and we have to work hard to achieve them, and others become opponents or obstacles to our projects and agendas. If I am planning some ministry in my own strength and I need Mary or Mina do something, and they fail in it, then that hurts my plan, and I will become anxious, frustrated and even angry. But if, as far as is possible, I am living in the daily will of God, then as a worker in the Vineyard of the Lord, together with other workers of the same Master, then it is he, our Lord and God, who must have the primary care for his own work, and not me. This allows us to be able to say, Lord, if you want me to do this or that, then you must provide what I need to be able to do it. And if you do not wish me to do it, then this also is the acceptable will of God for me.
There are things we have to plan ahead. But if we can hold on to them rather lightly, with a sense that things might change, but that in the will of God that is OK and will become more clear to us, then we are able to live in each day and be concerned with the opportunities of service and union with God in this day. God has not yet given us tomorrow, and if we spend all of our time there, then we will not be living in the presence of God today. It is the bread of today, our daily bread, that God promises to give us and nourish us with, just as the Children of Israel were only given enough of the manna for each day.
So we should live with the opportunities of today, and those things which are in the future we should surely ask God to guide us into, and we should make provisional plans as God gives us understanding, but we should not pile up things to be worried about, and those things which we do need special guidance about should be held loosely and not bind us with fear and anxiety. If we are learning to serve the Master of Vineyard each day, then we will grow to trust that in all things he will make known what he wants us to do at the right time, but for most of us, and most of the time, we need to be concentrating on those daily tasks he sets us, usually very mundane and almost trivial, but all of them opportunities to grow in obedience and in the practice of hearing the Master’s voice. This requires an increase in attention, by the grace of God. An increase in our determined seeking after unceasing experience of the presence of God, and in increase in our awareness of the needs of those around us, immediate needs and immediate opportunities for service as God reveals these to us in the ordinary course of daily life.
#6 – But what should we do when we do need guidance from God about particular situations and possibilities. If we are seeking to be and become spiritual men and women, and we are living a life of prayer and service to others as a normal aspect of life, then God will guide us in all things.
In the first place, we need to be patient. It is not enough to ask in prayer for some answer and then give up because nothing is clear to us. We need to ask, but in humility and with a willingness to wait until God reveals his will to us in his time, and in his way, for our salvation. There are aspects of my own ministry in the future about which I ask God to guide me. But I do so without demanding that he reveal his will to me NOW. Rather I know that I can and must be patient and wait for him to reveal things in accordance with what is best for me.
Often, in the second place, God requires us to wait longer than we wanted to or expected to. But if God is in control, and if we are workers in his Vineyard, then we must often be required to go beyond what makes us comfortable in ourselves. We should continue to pray patiently asking for God to reveal his will, but we should also seek to hear and understand what he is already saying and doing in our lives. We may be asking about X, Y and Z, but God may be asking us to obey him in A, B and C. And it will be necessary for us to learn the lessons of A, B and C before we can move on to X, Y and Z in God’s will.
In the third place, we must not hold on to our own will when we seek the guidance and will of God. We must be willing to say, it seems you are asking me to think about this, but if you want me to do anything else, then your will be done. This is good, but whatever you ask of me, if you give me grace, is also your good and perfect will. Again, I see this in my own seeking after guidance. It does seem that my life is unfolding in one way, but I must not ever start to insist on this, so that it becomes my will and not God’s will. I must always leave things in God’s hands for him to work out in his way, even while I also slowly begin to think that God is making his way clearer for me.
And, in the fourth place, if things begin to become clearer, we should perhaps lean gently on a door or two, to see if it opens easily for us. In my own life, when it seems that God’s will is starting to become apparent to me, I do the very least, the smallest thing, to see if there is an opening in the direction I am thinking. I do not make any great plan. I am always ready to stop and step back. But I do the least thing to see if a way is opening.
In all of this, in the fifth place, I look to find peace in my heart, and a confidence in God. If I am filled with frustration, anger, confusion and doubt, then I know that I am acting in my own strength. Because the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If I find these in my heart in relation to some situation then I begin to have confidence in God, indeed such faith in God is the foundation for these fruits. If I do not find peace then it is time to stop and step back, and offer the whole situation to God again, asking that he will guide us and committing it to him.
But in all of this, in the sixth place, we should look for the guidance of God in our daily interactions with others, and in the unexpected incidents in our lives. Much of the service I am engaged in is due entirely to unexpected interactions with people, where I have not been asking or demanding any service myself, or has been due to listening to what others would like me to do, or considering the needs of others, as God lays them in my heart and asks me to provide for them.
What have I been trying to say in all of this? It is that when we have a question Lord, what should I do about this? We must begin by deepening our relationship with God, we must give the situation to God in faith and hope. We must be patient and not grow frustrated, but commit ourselves to the daily obedience of God and the service of others which will teach us how to hear his guiding voice in all things. God certainly wants to guide us, but that requires us to be a people who are able to be guided, those who are obedient and wholehearted in their commitment to God. As we seek to be such people, we will discover the word and will of God more easily heard and understood.