I have already posted about the difference between analysis and discernment and 5 misconceptions about discernment. Those have laid the groundwork for how discernment works. Now I want to start getting more practical. Here are 5 Tips for discerning God’s will:
1. Set the Environment- It is important to get yourself into the right place for discernment. By environment I mean your space physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If God’s voice is a small voice or whisper than a loud world might be a problem. Take a hike at a park. Go to a beach. Sit in Starbucks with nothing to do but relax. Turn off your phone. I also recommend doing some centering prayer to get your own internal voices to quiet down as well. If you are like me then you probably go over all kinds of “what if” scenarios in your head. Stop it. This is where it is helpful to have others to pray for you as you discern.
2. Seek to Know in your Knower- You need to set the scoreboard right. The goal is not to get a feeling. The goal is not to make a logical decision with the best possible outcome. What are you trying to do is discern what God’s will is. My dad had a funny way of saying it: “You have to know in your knower.” I have found his description to be accurate. What you want to do is have an internal sense that a certain way is God’s will. If you understand that this is what your aim is then you can dump the pressures of having to feel or think certain things and can instead just trust your gut. Remember: this only feels unnatural because you have been trained to use analysis your whole life. Discernment is actually more natural for you.
3. Make Test Decisions- I learned this idea from Pastor Bill Hybels at the Global Leadership Summit one year. Honestly, I thought it was as stupid idea until I tried it about a week later. I have been using it ever since. If I am trying to make a decision, I will make a test decision for the day. Let’s say you have to decide between job #1 and job #2. Take a day and decide in your mind that you are going take job #1. Sit with that decision for the day and see how it feels. Then the next day decide in your own mind on job #2. I have found that by doing this give myself the time needed to sense God’s leading.
4. Have Patience- It is often difficult to discern when there is a lot of pressure to do so. God’s time is not our time and a time crunch often disrupts our ability to discern. In contrast, I have found that often people discern clearly and quickly when they finally give up the pressure to know the answer immediately. Take your time. Be patient.
5. Expect God to do His Part- You are not alone in the discernment. If God does have a will for your life then He is also partly on the hook to help you find what that will is. If your pursue God’s will and that is the honest desire of your heart then I believe that God will honor that. He may not do it in your time or in your methods. Furthermore, I believe God has the ability to fold bad decisions into His will. Trust God to show up and lead you.