Question: "How can I know what God's plan is?"
Answer: Most Christians truly desire to understand God’s plan for their lives. Yet there are many questions: how do I discover God’s plan? How can I be sure? Fortunately, the Bible provides many important principles regarding the will of God. God is not trying to hide His will for our lives; He wants His children to know His will and follow it.
First, the Bible is filled with clear statements regarding God’s will that apply to all believers. For example, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 teaches, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” These three activities—being joyful, praying, and giving thanks—are God’s will for all believers, regardless of other circumstances.
We can understand God’s will through His Word. God’s Word is perfect, and we can discover God’s desires for our lives through our study of it. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Second, we can better understand God’s plan for our lives by closely following Him. Romans 12:1-2 promises, “I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” When we dedicate our lives to God and turn away from the principles of this world, we prepare our hearts to hear from God (also see 1 Peter 4:2).
First Thessalonians 4:3-7 confirms the necessity of being a “living sacrifice” and gives more detail about God’s will: “It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”
Third, we can discover God’s will through prayer. Colossians 4:12 notes that a believer named Epaphras was “always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” The Colossian believers needed to know and do the will of God, and so Epaphras prayed for them. We can grow in our understanding of God’s will through prayer. We can also pray for God to reveal His plan to others.
Fourth, God sometimes reveals or confirms His plans for us through other means, including personal circumstances, relationships, or even dreams. However, these areas are often more subjective, and we must carefully evaluate such signs by what God has clearly said in Scripture.
We can rest assured of God’s promise: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). As we pray, study Scripture, and seek to live holily before the Lord, He will reveal His plan for us in His perfect time and in a way we can understand.