A Flashlight In The Dark

Begin the new year with God

May God guide us as we seek to understand and walk in his will today.


On the last day of our weeklong focus on prayer, we’re going to look at what it means to pray according to God’s will. Many of us have heard this phrase used hundreds, even thousands of times, but what does it really mean to pray in the will of God? May God guide us as we seek to understand and walk in his will today.


“This is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”

1 John 5:14 ESV


The most frequent question I’ve been asked over nearly fifty years of ministry is, “How can I know God’s will for my life?”

It’s a commendable and extremely practical question.

We should all want to live a life God can bless. We know that God can’t bless what’s not in his will, which would amount to rewarding sin and encouraging what harms his children. But finding his will can feel so abstract, a mystery we must struggle to unravel, a map we must try to decode.

As a college freshman, I was struggling with this issue, trying to make decisions regarding my major and already thinking about my next steps after graduation. I was talking with one of our religion professors, a wise mentor who became a spiritual father to me over the years.

He smiled and said, “God’s will is not a searchlight that reveals your final destination but a flashlight that shows you the next step on the journey.”

This image has stayed with me ever since.

No one in the Bible gets a “five-year plan.” Paul thought he was supposed to go east when he was called west (Acts 16:6–10). When he followed God’s Macedonian call, he did not know he was introducing the word of God to what we call “Europe'' today. He did not know that European Christians would take the gospel farther west into the New World one day. He couldn't know that, centuries later, I would be writing this devotional as a result.

Yet praying in God’s will is vital to praying effectively. No good father will give his children something that would harm them. When we “ask anything according to his will,” we can know that “he hears us” and will give us what is best in response (1 John 5:14).

So make it your resolution every day to live and pray in the will of God. Start your day by meeting with the Lord, surrendering your day to his Spirit’s leading and empowering. Ask him to guide you each step of the way as each step comes. Ask yourself what Scripture says about the decisions you face and choose to live biblically.

Listen for the Spirit’s voice in your spirit. Ask your Father to open and close doors according to his purpose for you. Make it your ambition to live and pray in his will and he will help you.

The bottom line is simple: God wants us to know his will more than we want to know it. If we truly want to live and pray in his will, we will.

today’s devotional is written by Jim Denison


1. Meditate on your Father’s perfect will. Consider his omniscience and his love for you, and reflect on the fact that he can only want what is best for you.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

2. Choose to live by God’s word, remembering that his word will never contradict his will.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules” (Psalm 119:105–106).

3. Listen for his voice in your spirit. Ask that he would help you walk through your day today in his presence and purpose.

“Trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).


A Flashlight In The Dark


My college professor made a lifelong contribution to my life and ministry when he helped me understand God’s will better. Helping other people in this way is a great gift to them and to everyone they influence.

Alfred North Whitehead suggested that great people plant trees they’ll never sit under. When you help someone live and pray in God’s will, you are planting such trees that will bear harvest for eternity.

Would you ask the Lord to help you give a gift like that today?

Extended reading: Acts 16:6–40

When you help someone live and pray in God’s will, you are planting such trees that will bear harvest for eternity.

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