At some point, most Christians wrestle with questions about God's will. These questions often arise when we have to make critical decisions about school, marriage, or our vocation. Being unsure of what God expects and how we fit into His plan can often cause feelings of paralysis: what if you make the wrong choice?
As we read through biblical passages about God's will, we discover that as we grow closer to God, His will comes into focus. In the meantime, the Lord has expressed His will for us, and these are things we can focus on as we make plans.
Let's take a look at 20 Bible verses about finding God's will.
1. Teach me your paths (Psalm 25:4–5)
Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
While there are cases throughout Scripture of God giving explicit instructions to His servants, Scripture often speaks about the more pressing need to walk in God’s ways. As we focus on drawing near to God and leaning on Him for guidance, the path before us becomes more apparent.
2. God teaches them his way (Psalm 25:8–9)
Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
One of the keys to discovering God's will lies in our humility. This means being willing to let go of our schemes and the idea that we know best. The road that God sets before us is often completely different than the one we would have planned, and it takes humility to recognize it.
3. Guided by God's word (Psalm 119:105)
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
The psalmist calls Scripture a lamp for his feet and a light on his path. By reading, memorizing, and meditating on God's Word, the psalmist feels better equipped to understand the course before him—and to avoid getting lost.
4. He makes your path straight (Proverbs 3:5–6)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
When your journeys take you through the arid desert, finding the straightest path is critical. This is the image the writer of Proverbs conjures up here. When we trust and lean into the Lord, He straightens the path before us. But when we rely on our own understanding, we end up going around in circles. And we may waste our time just to wind up in the place God always intended.
5. The Lord's purpose prevails (Proverbs 19:21)
Many are the plans in a person's heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
This proverb should be considered a guiding principle and an encouragement. God's intentions aren't always clear, so we can't live our lives in a holding pattern waiting for His will to reveal itself. This is why it's essential to draw near to God as we make plans. This allows us to make the most informed plans possible.
But we also have to trust that the Lord's purpose will be fulfilled. Sometimes that means that the path we're headed down may veer off in another direction. Trusting the Lord means making plans with the knowledge that the track may change.
Still, it should be encouraging to know that we're not going to ruin the plans God has for us.
6. For I know the plans I have for you (Jeremiah 29:10–14)
This is what the Lord says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
When it comes to God's will, people often quote a portion of this promise: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
It's critical to see this within the context of the prophet's statement. This promise was made to the entire nation of Israel who was in captivity, and it wouldn't be fulfilled until seventy years after Jeremiah had spoken. That means that an entire generation of Israelites would die in Babylon before this promise came to pass.
When we as individuals interpret this promise as God's plan that we’ll only prosper and never suffer, we open ourselves up for disillusionment. As is the case for the captive Israelites, sometimes God's larger plan for His people means that some individuals must endure trying and difficult times.
7. Your will be done (Matthew 6:9–10)
"Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven."
When Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray with the Lord's Prayer, He prays for God's will to be done. This is an essential element of our prayer life. By praying for God's will to be done, we're asking for any obstacles (including our own intentions) to be diminished.
8. Seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:33)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
It might seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to discover God's will is to focus instead on pursuing Him and learning what it means to live as a citizen of God's kingdom. The more we press in to Jesus, the clearer the path before us becomes.
9. Whoever does God's will (Mark 3:33–35)
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."
Jesus's family had come to collect Him because they thought He was losing His mind (Mark 3:21). When the people announce to Jesus that His mother and brothers are outside, He uses it as an opportunity to explain that the family of God is marked by those who prioritize doing God's will.
10. Not My will, but the will of the One who sent Me (John 6:38–40)
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.
Jesus's entire life was marked by a steady inclination to do God’s will. Nothing would distract or deter Him from fulfilling what God had called Him to do. This is a critical mindset for us to have, even when we don't have complete clarity on God's plans. We need to be committed to being obedient to what we know. And as we obey, the next steps become more explicit.
11. His sheep know His voice (John 10:3–4)
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
To be led by God's voice, we need to learn to recognize it. This awareness grows as we practice critical spiritual disciplines like reading Scripture, prayer, worship, fasting, etc. These practices equip us to hear God's voice and respond when we do.
12. God's children are led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14)
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Paul calls the Holy Spirit "a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" as God's children. One thing that separates the children of God from everyone else is that the Spirit of God leads them. This coincides with the Old Testament theme of God leading His people of Egypt and guiding them to the promised land.
13. Test and approve God's will (Romans 12:2)
Do not conform 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.
We come to the gospel with our own ideas and perspectives about the world. Some are more accurate than others, but they're all colored by our culture and education. If we want to learn to recognize where God is leading us, we need to transform the way we think. This means becoming vigilant about what we allow into our minds and what we choose to dwell on (Philippians 4:8).
14. Understand what the Lord's will is (Ephesians 5:15–20)
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Each one of us has a set number of days allotted to us. If we're interested in following God's will, we need to be attentive in the days we have, taking advantage of opportunities when they come. Often, people don't miss out on God's will because they're intentionally disobedient. Instead, they miss opportunities to follow His will because they’re too preoccupied with less-worthy pursuits.
15. According to His good purpose (Philippians 2:12–13)
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Paul reminds the Philippian church to stay as devoted to serving God now in his absence as they were in his presence. The truth of our commitment to God's will is revealed in how we spend our personal time. We need to lean into the Lord with as much enthusiasm when we're alone as we do when we're with other Christians.
16. God wills we avoid sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5)
It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God.
When we think about God's will, we tend to think about big questions like, "What does God want me to do for a living?" But there are many areas where God has already revealed His will for us, and when we are attentive to those areas, the others become a little easier to discern.
The first step to discerning God's will is to obey Him in the things He's already communicated to us.
17. God's will in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
What if God's will for us is as simple as learning to be thankful, staying in constant communion with Him, and rejoicing no matter what? Each of us could spend a lifetime learning to make these things a consistent part of our lives. But when it comes to pleasing the Lord, this seems like a beautiful place to start—and the rest will work itself out in time.
18. God wills that all people are saved (1 Timothy 2:3–4)
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
When it comes to the Great Commission, we never have to wonder what God's will is. He wants us to go to the ends of the earth and create disciples. If you commit yourself to sharing your faith with others, you will be right at the center of God's will.
19. When you have done the will of God (Hebrews 10:35–36)
So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
As the early church would testify, sometimes following God's will means walking through unique struggles and suffering. The author of Hebrews encourages readers to dig deep and find the stamina to keep going so we can receive what was promised.
20. Equipped to do God's will (Hebrews 13:20–21)
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This is a beautiful passage to end on. The resurrection of Jesus has put an exclamation on what we already knew to be true: our God is mighty and all-powerful. And the same power that was able to raise Jesus from the dead will equip us with everything we need to accomplish His will!
When you feel rudderless
Sometimes when we feel like we lack direction, we start fixating on figuring out God's will. Part of that comes from our desire to please God, and part of it arises from a desire to have the answers laid out for us. But it's seldom as simple as we desire.
If you feel like you’re merely on autopilot and floating through life right now, check out "4 Tips for When You Feel Directionless." It will give you some easy steps to get you moving again.