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How Do We Know When God Is Leading Us?

How Do We Know When God is Leading Us?

By Joyce Webb 2011

How do we know when God is leading us? Maybe it is just our own idea?

How do we know?

First of all, the Christian walk is a walk by faith. It is rare that God speaks to someone in a voice they hear aloud in their ear.

There are no “guarantees”. There is nothing that guarantees that this is what you should do. It would be so easy if that were true---for us to have a paper with it written down and a promise that it was the right thing.

The walk of faith means that we “believe” that this is what we should do.

We walk by feeling a certain pressure in our spirits and minds that we should do something.

If it is God speaking to us, this “pressure” feeling --impression---stays with us.

Sometimes there is a certain feeling of urgency----”I must do it” or “I must do it now.”

Sometimes this certain “impression” just stays with you and does not leave, you cannot forget about it. It does not seem to be “just an idea” but deeper a “must do”

sort of thing.

As a person walks with the Lord and obeys this “pulling, feeling, pressure” to do a certain thing-----and you see the Lord work in people’s lives, or your own life-----then you have more confidence ---feeling of sureness----that what you did was the right thing.

The next time you feel that “pressure” to do something----it is easier and you obey quicker. You feel more sure it is right.

Practice and experience makes you feel more sure. We read about men of God who tell how God has “led” them to do wonderful, amazing, and hard things----and we think, “Wow! I don’t know if I could step out and do something like that.”

They did not start out doing “big, wonderful” things. They started out with little things---obeying the “pressure” to do little things.

As they practiced obeying each time doing the “little” things, God knew he could trust them to do the “bigger” things.

Men who have “healing” ministries, or other “miracle” ministries----did not get there in one day. They learned to obey God in little things.

No one likes to do something and find out it was foolish and have people laugh at them or criticize them. Because of this, we are afraid to move forward and do things that we feel in our spirit to do. We stop ourselves from speaking to someone about Jesus or asking them if we can pray with them, etc.

As we “step out in faith”, we believe that God wants us to do this thing, so we move forward----God will help us do it.

God can not help someone who is doing nothing. It is like driving a car. You can not steer a car that is sitting still. A car that is moving can be steered.

That does not mean that we should go around doing all kinds of things, and just hope that God will come be part of it.

We need to have a “sense” of direction----know we are to do a thing----then step out in faith----trusting God to go with you showing you how to do it, and when.

There are many kind and helpful things we can do everyday for people that we do not need a special “push” from God to do. Part of our Christian living is seeing a need and trying to help.

But there are times, when God may “lead” you to do a certain thing, urge you to go visit someone, or maybe, to not do something. These are the times we need to give attention to the “check” in our spirit.

There are some “guides” to knowing if God is speaking to you or if it is just your own idea:

#One: God will not ask or tell you to do something that goes against His Word, the Bible.

That is one reason why we should know the Word of God.

There are many Bible verses that tell us not to do certain things----that they are a sin. There are other Bible verses that tell us not to do certain things because they are foolish and not wise. They are not a sin, but they are not wise, and if we do them we will bring trouble to ourselves.

Here are some examples of things that are wrong, but there is not a certain Bible verse that tells so :

The Bible does not say that smoking is a sin. But it does say that our bodies are a “temple, church” for the spirit of God who lives in us. So we need to take care of this body because the Spirit of God lives in it. I Corinthians 6: 19, 20

Smoking is very hurtful to your body. You are not “taking care of God’s ‘temple’, when you smoke.”

There are other things that we do that are not good for our bodies. We need to think about our responsibility to God in these things. Our bodies are important. We are His temple.

Drinking is talked about in the Bible. It says that we should not get drunk. Some verses talk about how people act when they drink too much. The Bible says this is wrong. The Bible does not say we should never drink alcohol. But it does talk against drinking too much. Ephesians 5:18, I Corinthians 6:10

However, for many people good advice would be to never drink. If you do not take that first drink then you will not have a drinking problem.

I know there are people who drink a glass of wine at a meal and would not think of getting drunk. But drinking any alcohol for some people is too much temptation to just stay to one drink.

Since the Bible talks against drinking too much or getting drunk, God is not going to tell you to go to a bar to sit around and tell them about Jesus.

We are to stay away from all appearance of evil. That means that if it looks like evil---stay away from it. Do not let other people think you may be doing it.

I Thessalonians 5:22

God may ask you to talk to someone who is drunk, or pray for someone who is drunk, or talk to them when they are not drinking; but God will not ask you to go sit around a bar to see if you can “win people to Jesus”.”

Drugs are not spoken of in the Bible, in just those words. There are verses that refer to drug use and they have to do with witchcraft and sorcery. The Greek word is “Pharmakea” which referred to a drug. “Pharakeia” was the use of drugs, often used in putting spells on people, curses, etc. That word was translated into the English to be the word witchcraft---because drugs were used in witchcraft.

Witchcraft was known for using drugs in making “spells” and “curses” and poison. It was known for use in some worship ceremonies so people would see “visions”.

There was much witchcraft going on in New Testament times. In Acts 19:19 when people became believers, they brought their books of sorcery to be burned. The verses: Rev. 9:21, Rev. 21:8, Rev. 22:15, Rev. 18:23, Galatians 5: 19-21 speak of witchcraft.

We use the word “pharmacy” when we talk about a drug store. Drugs are used in medicine. Too much drugs---such as pain killers---do funny things to your mind. It can make you “fuzzy, foggy”, and think slow,. It can make you see bugs crawling on the wall, etc. That is when you know you have too much.

When people take drugs----not for sickness, or pain----but just to get a “feeling” --that is letting a drug change and control their mind. That is wrong.

The reason it is wrong is that the mind and spirit are very close, one influences the other.

Even though, the use of drugs, as we know it today, is not talked about in the Bible, except for the teaching about witchcraft. The overall teaching idea is that we should be in control of our minds---- we should not let “drinking alcohol” fog our minds, and we should not let drugs control our minds.

If we are really Christians, we should not want to look like those who are doing wrong.

Young people try to look like the rock music players with the wild hair, tattoos, etc. Why are we trying to look like people who are disobeying God?

God will not tell you to do something that goes against the teaching ideas and principles of the Bible.

When we speak of things that control our mind, here is something else to watch out for----false teachers.

God is not going to tell a leader to control others in a domineering way---that means “over control“ , boss, being like “God” to them.

That kind of leader is not of God. God will not tell someone to “rule” over someone else’s soul, and mind. If a man says that God told him to tell you to do this or that --- think it over carefully.

Some times a person tries to be a leader and get other people to follow them. They like power. They become so strong they tell people what to do, what to think, and make their followers think that “God” is talking, and the people must obey.

This is “dominating” ----over control, too much control---it is not “leading people” it is “bossing and ruling” people.

We should not let others “dominate” over us. That means that when we are adults, we should not let others control our minds or rule over us with such power that we do not think for ourselves but allow them to rule us.

I am not talking about the law or the government of a nation being over us.

I am talking about a person who wants to be a spiritual leader, but is very controlling.

Ask God to show you the truth about such a person. If a person like that tries to tell you to do something, pray about it. Ask God to show you what to do. If it is from God, God will speak to you, too. If God does not speak to you the same thing, be careful. If the Holy Spirit does not speak to you about that thing----wait. Do not do it.


Both Paul and Peter said that they did not have “dominion” over the believers that they taught. They were “examples” to them, and “spiritual fathers”, but they did not “rule” over them. I Corinthians 1:24 and I Peter 5: 3

That is not to say that we should not respect and obey our church leaders. If we are part of a church group, there has to be a leader and people need to follow. If not, the whole place becomes confusion.

If we are part of a group, we have a responsibility to respect and follow the authority of the leader. We need to co-operate with a good attitude.

If the leader in that church begins to do things that you think is against God’s Word ----then you need to find another church.

A church leader is not the “boss” of your soul. You belong to God. He is the One you obey.

Some people are quick to believe what others tell them. If a person does not know a lot about the Bible and someone comes and tells them things and it makes them feel good----they may follow that person.

You need to know for yourself what the Bible says. Get a Bible that is easy to read and read every day. Study it. Memorize verses. You need to understand about the Holy Spirit leading you. Think about spiritual things before you “jump into it”.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth. You cannot just go by “feelings”---you must know what God’s word says.

Some things are not said to be wrong in the Bible. There is no verse that names that thing and says it is wrong. But the over all “teaching principle or idea” about that thing is there.

God is not going to tell us to do something that is against His Word.


#Two: When God tells you to do something, he will open the way.

You will not have to “push, or force” something to happen.

If God wants you to talk to someone, you will not have to force your way onto that person to talk to them. God will give you the opportunity. Be ready. Take the opportunity when it comes. Our problem is----we do not use the opportunity---we are afraid or too busy---and the opportunity goes by.

If God wants you to do something, He will open up the way. You will not have to force things to happen. The opportunity will come for you to do that thing. Be ready.

Use the opportunity.

If you are needing a job, you need to be looking for a job. You cannot sit at home and say “God send me a job.” You need to go out and see about putting your name in places. You need to dress right, and look responsible. You need to be willing to work hard and obey what you are told.

As you are looking for a job, ask God to lead you to the right job for you. One you can do. One that you can get to. One that the hours will work with your family, etc.

Keep praying to be led. Keep looking.

When I was young, I ask the Lord to help me find a job. I did not want to work on Sundays, because I wanted to be in church. The Lord helped find jobs. I never had to work on Sunday. I did not make as much money as other jobs may have paid, but I would rather have less money and go to church on Sunday. The Lord honored that.

I never had a lot of money, but I had what I needed and I learned to live in a simple way so I did not need so much money. Some things are more important than money.

If you need to have teaching and training to get a job, ask God to make an opportunity for you to get the training. Be ready to do it. Study hard. Then you will be ready for the job.

If you need to buy a house, ask God to help you find the right one. My cousin recently tried to buy a house. He had been looking for some time. He had saved his money and he thought it was time to go buy a house. He started the business of buying this one house. It took months for the business to be done. Finally, he thought everything was ready. The people who owned the house called and said there was some problem with their part of the deal and they were not going to sell.

He was so disappointed! He had waited, and waited, and planned. When he thought it was all done and he would have the house----no sale.

He was so discouraged. It was awhile before he went looking again. Then he decided to try again and he looked online and he saw this place for sale. He liked it, so he asked about it. It was a better house, better yard and better deal than the first place. In a short time, every thing was done and he was able to buy the house.

His disappointment----was God’s leading. God “shut the door”---God shut up the way. No matter that he was disappointed. God knew better. And before long, God led him to the right house.

When God “shuts up the way” for something we think we are to do-----do not force the door open. Wait, and see what God will open up.


I will tell you about a time I needed to get certain college classes so I could teach that fall.

I was teaching in a special education class, and to keep on teaching that class in the fall I needed to have two classes about this kind of special education.

I went to sign up for the classes at Kent State University. It is a very big place.

It was in the days before everything was done on computers. You had to go stand in line to get up to the tables where the people were signing you into the class you wanted.

The lines were long-----it was in a very big gym----there were hundreds of students waiting in lines. I waited a couple of hours to get up to the table. As I was finally getting close to the table, I could hear students ask for the classes that I needed. I saw the person at the table shake their head “No” for one of the classes. Then I saw a couple more students ask, they, too, were told “No”. There was no more room in that class. The room was full.

I said something to the girls in front of me in line, that they were not letting people in this class, but that I needed it to keep my job. The one girl said to me, “My friend was going to take that class, but she decided not to. She sent in a card that she was not going to take it. She told me the girl’s name.”

When it was my turn to ask for the class, the lady said, “No, it is full.” I told her the name of the girl who sent in her card that she was not taking it. The lady looked up the card, and said, “You are right. Here is her card.. You may have her place.” I got the class.

Think about that. In a line of hundreds of students, I could have stood anywhere, but God let me stand behind the only person who had the answer to my getting the class.

And, if I had been quiet and shy and not been willing to ask questions to see what I could find out, I would not have gotten the answer.

We need to co-operate with God. Use an opportunity. But we do not need to force it.

Bad things can happen when we try to force the way open.

My cousin could have tried to force the deal on the first house. He would have had a lot of troubles. And he would have missed getting a better house.

If we force a way open:

We could hurt someone’s feelings and it would be hard for them to forget.

We could be tempted to be less than honest because we want something so much.

We could make other people angry.

We could waste money, time, miss a better opportunity

We could get what we wanted, and find out after we got it, that we are not happy with it.

God knows what we need, and he knows what will make us happy. Let God choose. God has a better idea.

Sometimes we think God is weak and cannot do things to please us. We think that if we are in control we will get it done the way we want.

If God is smart enough to make all the stars fly around up in the sky without hitting each other, and if He is smart enough to make all the cells in your body do all the things they do-----are we as smart as that? God knows all about you. Trust Him.

Remember, too, God is a father. He does not give his children just everything they want. You do not give your children everything they want----even if you had the money. You do give your children some things just because you like to see them happy and enjoy it. God is a father, too. He is kind and loving, but He also knows what is best for us.


#Three: God talks to our spirit. The Holy Spirit talks to our spirit. It is a certain feeling or pressure inside you that you know you are to do something.

Our minds and our spirits are close together. When the Holy Spirit talks to us it is more that just an idea that comes into our head.

There is a feeling that “I need to do this”. The feeling and thought stays with you. It bothers you. It keeps coming to mind. You do not seem to get rest from it until you do it.

It is soft like a whisper. It is rare for a man to hear God speak in a voice to him.

At first, we may not give much attention to this whisper. But it does not go away.

If we are really stubborn, God will finally stop calling us to do something. God will not force us.

For those who want to hear God’s voice, but are not sure if it is God’s voice----the Holy Spirit will keep the pressure feeling, so you will know it is not just yourself.

Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you do that thing. Tell him that you want to obey. But you do not want to do the wrong thing. Ask him to help you as you start to do that thing----to be there to speak to your mind showing you what to do. Ask him to stop you if you did not understand----and maybe it was your own idea.

This “openness” to the Holy Spirit to be led is important. When God tells you to do something, he does not leave you to do it on your own. If it is His idea, He is in it until it is done. Be open to His direction as you do it.


People may say, “Crazy people hear voices.”. That is true. Crazy people do hear voices, and some of them have done terrible things.

God is not going to tell you to do some terrible thing. It will not be against His word.


Sometimes when the Holy Spirit speaks to people to do something, it is because there is danger. People say they feel they need to go visit someone, or check on something, or leave a place, etc. They feel that they must do it “now”.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit tells people to pray for someone. There are many stories about people feeling they should pray for someone and later learn that at the time they felt to pray was the same time that the other person needed help.

Many years ago, I remember in the middle of the day, I thought of a cousin. I did not see this cousin often. I did not usually think about him. I wondered why I was thinking about him. I decided maybe God brought them to my mind so I should pray for him. So I prayed. I did not know why, or what to pray for. I just prayed that God would watch over him and whatever need he had that God would take care of him.

It was weeks later, some of my family was talking and said this cousin was out on the lake with friends. They were doing something with a boat. Something happened and my cousin almost drowned. They were surprised that he did not drown because what happened was serious.

Right away I thought, that was the reason God brought him to my mind and I prayed for him.


Sometimes, God tells you things, or warns you of something.

This has only happened to me one time. I was with a group of people from out church. In the group was the wife of our youth minister. She and her husband had been married for awhile, but had not been able to have a child. She was very sad and she talked about it. They had even tried to adopt a child.

As she was talking, I felt deep inside me, ‘She is going to have a child soon.’

I just knew it. I did not say anything to her. I did not feel that I should say anything.

And I probably would have been afraid, thinking, “What if I’m wrong, and she gets her hopes up and nothing happens.” That is fear. That does not help God’s work. But that is where I was at that time.

In a while, I learned that the woman was pregnant. She was so happy! She was a little worried---if she would be able to carry the baby with nothing going wrong. Maybe if I had told her what God told me, she could have rested in her mind.

I knew in my spirit that she was going to have the baby and I did not see any problems.

She had the baby and all was well.

Now I know what the prophets in the Bible must have felt when God told them something was going to happen. You just know it in your spirit like it is already done.

Sometimes, God warns you about things.

I read a story about a someone who was traveling in a car. A man was standing by the roadside trying to “hitchhike” a ride. The person started to put on the brake to slow up, they thought they would give the man a ride. But just as they began to put on the brake, a terrible smell came into the car.

The person felt it was a warning. They did not stop but drove past the man. As soon as they passed the man, the smell left.

I have a friend that told me something that happened to her----just the opposite---she was praying about something, and this wonderful smell came into the room---she felt like God was there with her----then after awhile the smell left.

I have been in places that I felt in my spirit----I need to leave. I believe it was the Holy Spirit warning me.

We have to be careful about just following “feelings”. When we have walked with the Lord for awhile, we can tell the difference between just our own feelings, and the Holy Spirit making us feel a certain way.

That is why we say, the thing must be okay with God’s Word.

We say that we will not need to force (push) things to happen. God will open the way.

Sometimes we do have to go on “feelings”. God sometimes asks people to do something and the way is not open yet. We do not force something to happen, but we start forward to start doing that thing----as we step out in faith, God will open the way. In that thing, we are going by “feelings” that God has put it in our spirit to do something-----even though the way is not open yet.

How do we know when God is leading us? These 3 things should be in place:

It agrees with what the Bible teaches.

God has opened the way.

I feel in my spirit this is the right thing to do.

Does that mean we will never make a mistake? No. Our fear will get in the way.

Our stubborn thinking will stop us. Our pride will stop us from obeying. We will not be sure if we heard right.

We walk by faith, in this life, and we will not do it perfectly. But, let us try. Let us learn, let us practice until we get better at it. Let us be more careful to give attention to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. God is a wonderful teacher.





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