A Surefire Way to Discern God's Will- at Home and at Work
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. There will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
I've read a handful of Merton books and I find that his prayer speaks volumes. Even better, Merton recommends the following 'system' for your discernment:
STEP ONE: Articulate what you want and desire. Do this via prayer, journaling or through a private conversation with someone you trust. Don't cast your net too wide but keep your circle to a minimum. Negative feedback on your ambitions can squash even the most positive of us. When I do this, I simply tell God what I want and trust that He hears the desires of my heart. Luke 12:34 provides some good reference: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
STEP TWO: Seek God's will. Merton does not believe in a vending machine kind of God- put your desire in and then get a little present come out. This step is about finding context. Another way to look at this is to put some backdrop into your photo: it makes all of the difference. Talk to God and ask Him what He wants for your life. Read sacred literature and talk to those who are wise in terms of decision making. You'll often "hear" God's direction through their point of view.
STEP THREE: Align your desire with God's will. Merton looks at this as a kind of alignment. Think of this step as two cars driving along the same road, drafting from one another and enjoying the benefits of not being alone. The key is in finding the road, then God does the rest.
I've used this very simple formula many times and it works time and time again. Recently, I was able to make a huge decision but it came after several months of discernment, prayer and reflection. Merton's formula can work for you too- just give it a try!
Photo by s-revenge