As we’ve seen, there is a pattern to seeking God’s guidance. The first step—cleansing—is actually important throughout the entire process. In fact, all but one of the remaining steps have no particular order and can fit together in many ways.
The exception is surrender. The Lord cannot share His plans for our life until we are committed to following Him no matter what. He certainly knows whether we are seeking direction in order to obey or merely to consider what He suggests. Therefore, surrender must precede even our prayers for guidance. First John 5:14-15 says that the Lord hears and grants our petitions when we ask according to His will. It’s possible to make requests that are not of God, but believers who yield themselves will find their way to the right request and the best possible answer.
Most of the time, God guides believers to an answer through His Word, which is why I encourage people to meditate upon it (Psalm 1:2-3). Our reading can take us to the very passage that deals with our situation or reveals a principle that applies. Sometimes God speaks a crystal-clear message to a person’s heart that nobody else would glean from those particular verses. The key is to believe that the Lord is going to guide you, and to live out that faith (Mark 11:24).
The process of seeking guidance is often slow, so we must wait. Running ahead or manipulating circumstances can be a costly mistake. Our omniscient, sovereign God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him (Isa. 64:4). Those who seek direction will receive—that’s a promise (Matt. 7:7-8).