When it comes to making major decisions the most common bit of advice I hear is, “Just pray about it.”

While that sounds nice and spiritual, that advice does not really help. You’ve likely been praying for months, but its still not clear what you should do.

Let’s dig down and get better advice than this.

Here are a few practical steps that can help you arrive at a wise decision.

To begin with, recognize that it takes time and intentionality to decide well. You must pay fierce attention to:
  • What is happening around you
  • What is happening in you
  • What others are saying
I wrap up this series on discerning the will of God with three practical steps. First, if you’ve missed the posts in this series, click the links below to get caught up:

Of course, you pray about everything! But here’s what else you may need to add to praying.

Here are the three practical things you can do, roughly in this order:

  1. Careful, rational consideration of options, pros and cons
We must apply our best minds to the decision. 
  • Don’t just “go with your gut” 
  • Examine your motives, abilities, limitations
  • Do the hard work of planning, research, and analysis

Wise decisions must involve your mind. Not simply choosing the easiest way (“open doors” idea) , but the wisest (you may have to knock on a “closed door”).

But it needs to go beyond cerebral analysis…
  1. Take an extended time of prayer and reflection
Don’t be in a hurry to make a decision. Take time to listen to God speaking through your heart. 
Take at least a day to retreat:
  • A place and time to quiet your heart and mind. 
  • A safe place, away from the problem and people
  • Take your Bible and journal
  • Invite the Holy Spirit to examine your heart
  • Seek resolution with your emotions
  • Write out your thoughts; talk with God about them
  • See if through prayer your heart is pointing you in a direction
  1. Accountability and discussion with others
There are two reasons you need to seek the counsel of others:
  • Perhaps even after careful thought and prayer you still have no sense of direction. You can be stuck, and just need some other minds to help sort the confusion.
  • Or, you have come to a conclusion. You still need to check with others, to have other more objective perspectives. Wise decisions are usually not solo decisions. It should make sense to other wise people. They may bring another perspective that you missed and need to hear.

Initiate intentional conversation with a small group of friends, mentors and advisors – more than one. “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.” Prov 15.22, NLT

Beware of picking mentors you think will just agree with you. “Good leaders cultivate honest speech; they love advisors who tell them the truth.” Prov 16.13, Message

You may have to go back and repeat some of these steps more than once. Keep at it until there comes some congruence between your mind and heart.

Focusing your heart

Remember that whatever you focus on will become larger in your mind. Life is a blend of good and bad, so you have a choice of which to focus on:

  • Focus on the negative and all the problems of life, and soon life is just full of problems
                        You feel it in your emotions
                        People see it in you demeanor
                        Its written on your face
  • Choose to focus on the goodness of God and the blessings he has given you … and life gets brighter
                        God is a good God, the One who blesses
                        We are made in His image, made to reflect Him
                        It shows up on your face


It’s not a matter of simply ignoring the problems of life. Rather, make sure you keep your soul encouraged by reminding yourself of God’s goodness first. Then, when your heart is encouraged, you can look at problems with hope, and they can stay the right size in your minds — smaller than your God!


Choose to hope

God does want you to know His guidance. Believing that is core to real faith.

Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

1 Chron 28.9, “The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.
          We certainly need help to understand ourselves.
If you seek him, he will be found by you.” 
          And that’s a promise!


Question: What process do you use to make major decisions? Is something missing here?