“How can I discern God’s will for my life?” “How can I be sure of God’s guidance in my decisions?” “God, what should I do?” All believers have asked questions like these. For many of us, the question of God’s will rarely enters into our decisions apart from those critical times when we realize that a specific decision could affect the rest of our lives. Because the consequences of a wrong choice at a point like this could be momentous, we suddenly begin to haphazardly pursue and frequently agonize over God’s will on the matter. But, is there a better approach?
Jesuit priest Walter Ciszek (1904–1984) author of, He Leadeth Me, offers a simple way to discern God’s will. “The soul who each day makes a morning offering of all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day—and who then acts upon it by accepting unquestioningly and responding lovingly to all the situations of the day as truly sent by God—has perceived with an almost childlike faith the profound truth about the will of God. . . . God’s will for us is clearly revealed in every situation of every day, if only we could learn to view all things as God sees them.”
Ciszek goes on to say, “The challenge lies in learning to accept this truth and act upon it, every moment of every day. The trouble is that like all great truths, it seems too simple. It is there before our noses all the time, while we look elsewhere for more subtle answers. It bears the hallmark of all divine truths, simplicity, and yet it is precisely because it seems so simple that we are prone to overlook it or ignore it in our daily lives. For what can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of every day as a gift from the hands of God?”
In his book, Abandonment to Divine Providence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675 -1751) similarly says, “Every moment we live through is like an ambassador that declares the will of God to us. If we understood how to see in each moment some manifestation of the will of God we should find therein all that our hearts could desire. If we were attentive and watchful, God would reveal Himself to us, and we would see His divine action in everything that happened to us and rejoice in it. There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action. If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of living with faith, humility and love in the present moment.”
Ciszek and de Caussade seem to agree that there is no more infallible way to seek the will of God than by seeing the sovereignty and grace of God in each moment. Everything in life is to be welcomed as somehow the expression of the will of God. And, your response to whatever happens has to be “as if” it were the will of God, or you can’t respond to it graciously and obediently.
Charles de Foucauld once wrote a prayer that expresses beautifully the spiritual attitude of abandonment to the will of God.
Father, I abandon myself into your hands, do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you;
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.
Henri Nouwen says of this prayer, “It seems good to pray this prayer often. These are words of a holy man, and they show the way I must go. I realize that I can never make this prayer come true by my own efforts. But the Spirit of Jesus given to me can help me pray it and grow to its fulfillment. I know that my inner peace depends on my willingness to make this prayer my own.”
Posted on August 4, 2020