How do we know that God is directing our actions?

This is an important question especially when you consider all the evil in the world that is done by those who believe they are following what God wants them to do. However, my thoughts are of a more mundane nature and I am going to share with you how I think God has guided me this week in the hope that the process will help you to discern God’s guidance for yourself. I am using myself as an example and this will not be a complete guide to God’s guidance, merely an example of a few ways in which we can discern his will in our lives.

On Monday morning, musing over my first cup of tea of the day was one of those ‘am I wasting my time with the blog (not to mention the book I await a publishers verdict on)’ moments.

My blog does not get large numbers of followers and I do occasionally wonder if it is a good use of my time. I enjoy blogging and I find it helpful in ordering my thoughts and aiding my reflection. However, it does take more time than if I simply kept my journal on my computer. And is it vanity? I have two people who regularly make comments, and as of today, 8 followers on the website, plus a reach of about 15 via the Facebook feed.

I then got up and got on with the day which included morning prayer. As is my habit these days I did used the Church of England morning prayer but the set readings for the coming Sunday rather than those for the day.

Discerning God’s direction includes carrying on with habits that are good – prayer times that are part of our daily/weekly routine using some form of set words and suggested bible readings. God often uses the routine stuff. As I was looking online for some pictures for this blog I came across this, which is one of the verses that I use most days and is on one of my art pieces that is usually placed on my prayer table.

When I read through the bible passages set for Sunday I felt that I had some answers to my question. To save time, I have taken a photo of the sheet I used this week and you can see where I have underlined and put a box round the verses that stood out for me in pink. The green and black pens were used later on in the week.

I thought that this seemed to be saying I should go ahead with the blogging. I do have a sense of God calling me to tell what he has done in my life. Discerning God’s direction includes the times when the words of the bible stand out to us, in a timely manner; it can be confirmation of God speaking to us and an answer to prayerful questions of him. If your church provides a sheet with the bible readings on, why not use it in your weekly prayer times and underline/highlight anything that stands out? That it was psalm 40 was significant too. The following few paragraphs are from my book (so you get a sneak preview).

1986 – in the pit of despair

Music has a way of reaching us in a way that words alone don’t.  I had a tape of praise songs based on the psalms which I found helpful.  It’s a great way of learning scriptures that build us up, enabling us to put our trust in God.  The psalms contain many prayers that can become part of our stock to draw on when our own words fail.  However there was one day that the chorus words “Lord you put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” were stuck in my mind and it was so annoying because I really did not feel like singing a song. 

The full song is:

Lord you put a new song in my mouth
A hymn of praise to our God
Lord you put a new song in my mouth
A hymn of praise to our God
Many will see, many will fear
Put their trust in the Lord
Many will see, many will fear
Put their trust in the Lord © Ears & Eyes Music 1985

I was down in the dumps.  Life didn’t seem worth living.  I eventually looked up the psalm in my bible and got a real shock.  Psalm 40 described my condition – in “the slimy pit,…. the mud and mire.”  Wow!  God seemed to be saying that he understood, he had heard my cry and he was promising to lift me out.  Although “troubles without number surrounded me, sins overtaken and more than the hairs of my head, with my heart failing within me”, the psalm was helping me to acknowledge my need and ask God to help and to put my trust in him.

There was also a section about telling what God has done in the great congregation that I felt had something to do with me but I wasn’t sure why, so I circled it.   I later felt that it was the first call to a ministry of preaching. 

Discerning God’s direction includes paying attention to a song or words that keep on popping into your mind. This was the very first time that I experience God speaking to me through the bible. It also illustrates the way that God can give you a preview of things to come.

On Thursday I had a good time of prayer in which I wrote the first draft of a poem which was included in my sermon. I also felt a sense of peaceful rightness about taking up an invitation to speak at the Mothers’ Union where I was a curate. I will show them my art and poetry and share what I feel God has been saying through it.

Discerning God’s direction includes paying attention to your sense of peace or not with a decision that you have prayed about. You can imagine a course of action you are contemplating and if you get a sense of peace about it, then it is probably right. If it is important or life changing then it is best to talk it over with a trusted friend and someone who is more mature in the Christian life than yourself. I regularly see a spiritual director for this. She listens to me and helps me to discern the way forward. She doesn’t actually direct me – that’s a bit of a misnomer. She accompanies me. She is a soul friend. Discerning God’s direction includes talking things through with a more mature Christian.

On Saturday I was reminded of Thursday evening’s event that I attended. It is a Filling Station (part of a national organisation where we were treated to a very good talk about the bible and how we can rely on it. The speaker got us to repeat, several times, the verses from 2 Timothy 3:1-17.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)

At the time I didn’t think much of it (other than it was a good verse to learn) but at the end of the evening we were invited to pray for each other. In the absence of being able to think of anything else I asked my friend to pray for my decision about continuing to spend time on my writing the blog. So that’s what she prayed. Friday was day off and so on Saturday morning when I got back to prayer using the Sunday readings I noticed the verses from Psalm 40 (underlined in green) about God putting my feet on a sure footing and putting a new song in my mouth so many shall see and put their trust in the Lord. Also, ‘you have given me ears to hear you’ – and that was when the penny dropped and I realised that the Thursday night verses were also part of the answer: the bible is there for training and equipping me – and it was the bible verses for Sunday that had been speaking to me…… so perhaps it IS God speaking to me and answering my question.

I shouldn’t fear embracing new ways of telling what God has done for me and can also do for others. My blog may only have a few people reading it – but one of my congregations is fewer in number than that! It is quality that counts, not quantity. So I will carry on until I get a direction otherwise. One other confirmation that I am going in the right direction is that I got another follower of the blog yesterday. Normally I would discount that as not a confirmation however, given that I had asked for confirmation, and that I don’t get new followers every day, or even every month, then I took it as a sign that I should continue, along with all the other pointers. Discerning God’s direction includes ‘sucking it and see’, giving it a go and getting on with what you feel he is asking of you. Taste and see – the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We also need to give things time.

One final ‘confirmation’ came this morning in an email from CARM (Creative Arts Retreat Movement) of which I am a new member. It was a request for contributions to a special edition magazine telling people about our experiences on CARM retreats. I have been on 3 so far and will be submitting something, and what I write will also be on my blog. And I will put about my blog in the article. It is another outlet for what I see is a new direction for ministry which will develop alongside my parish ministry. I believe my parish ministry will also benefit from my dabbling in creativity. So, unless God gives me a clear indication that I should not blog, I will continue. If you do find what I write helpful, please share with others, either via the blog website or the Facebook page.


  1. Hi. I am catching up on my reading and writing today. It is interesting that you question your blog writing. It is I think a blessing to those who read it, a form of ministry. Please keep going with it. Only a few more weeks until Lent and then you will be able to blog about 40 acts again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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