Apparently the question of “how do I know God’s will for my life” is not confined to our modern era. John Newton dealt with this same question. I was encouraged that his answer is similar to what mine often is. After showing the danger of subjective experiences Newton offers this advice:
In general, God guides and directs His people, by affording them, in answer to prayer, the light of his Holy Spirit, who enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures. The word of God furnishes us with just principles, and right apprehensions, to regulate our judgments and affections, and thereby to influence and direct our conduct. Those who study the Scriptures, in a humble dependence upon Divine teaching, are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them, and are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will of God. They thereby discover the nature and duties of their several situations and relations in life, and the snares and temptations to which they are exposed.
You may want to read this entire letter, it will be well worth your time. But most of probably will not click that link, so allow me to summarize. Newton begins the letter by discouraging such subjective things as “casting lots”, “opening the bible at a venture”, “a sudden strong impression of a text”, “freedom in prayer”, and “a remarkable dream”. I think Newton would be quick to add—some of our modern devices; such as a feeling of peace, a word of knowledge, circumstances, or signs.
Newton’s advice is simple. Really get to know the revealed will of God and you will have no trouble walking after the Lord. He is following in the stream of Augustine, “Love God and do what you want”. Spend your time being transformed by the written Word and you will be more apt to follow after the Lord’s steps. Do away with all this subjective, crystal-ball searching, mumbo-jumbo!
If you are interested in an excellent little book on this topic check out Kevin DeYoung’s book: Just Do Something. Read my review, here, and if you are interested click on the $8.79 and buy yourself a copy.