It seems there is always an element of faith in divine guidance. God does speak, but it's up to us to listen. When Jesus prayed at Lazarus' tomb, though the Father answered from Heaven, audibly, while some heard the Voice, others passed it off as thunder. Could there have been some who “seemed to” hear, then backed away?
Preachers in the past have listed ways the Lord guides His own: Some of these have been circumstances, an inner voice, the witness of the Scriptures, the witness of other Christians, the counsel of the elders, and an irrepressible desire. Any of these can be sufficient, though for our comfort there is usually confirmation from two or more sources, but the key point in guidance is relationship, the basis for the relationship is the holy love of God, and so the most important part of the “puzzle” is the relationship itself. This is as much to say that in order to solve a puzzle one must have full knowledge of the whole puzzle!
How can this be? If the Lord had so chosen, I'm sure He could have given us an “urim and thummim” as in the old days so we could simply cast stones to know what to do or where to go. He chose not to, and we can be sure He has reasons for his choices. The difference is that, even then those stones, or whatever they were, were for civil government. Those who knew God knew His voice.
Nowadays we like to have things broken down into steps and stages: Five steps to instant wealth, Three words to change your love life, Four things God wants you to know. How can we take an ancient, holistic, truth and lay it out in stages? This might be a plan:
Reconcile to God,
Are we in a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Jesus said that the only way into God's kingdom is to be born again, by the Spirit. In order to be hearing from the King, we have to be His subjects.
If we are reconciled to God, then we will be looking to bring others into that relationship as well- we will be.
Ask, in faith,
James writes, “If any man (person) needs wisdom, let him ask of God, ..in faith...” When we approach the King for His wisdom, we remember that what He says holds true. We are not employing the Most High God as one of our staff of advisors, but looking to Him Who is the Judge of all things for the truth, because He promises to give us His wisdom freely, with no embarrassment over our ignorance.. Jesus said to,
Ask, and keep on asking,
Seek, and keep on seeking,
Knock, and keep on knocking,
And we will have what we ask, find what we seek, and the door we knock at will be opened. The one “sticky spot” in all this goes back to the beginning. If we are in that relationship with our Father, and if we are asking ready to cooperate in the plan He reveals to us, then we have full assurance that it will happen.
Wait on God.
This can be the hardest part. In modern English we think of waiting as sitting around idle. The real meaning is to be attentive. That may mean sitting quietly, or it may mean going about one's daily business, but in any case we can remember the little acrostic,
The Bible tells us, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed them to us by His Spirit! If we belong to Christ, then we have His Spirit, and He holds all the indescribable riches of the wisdom of God and of His plan for our lives. Since this is true, these aren't three steps, like to pass over to get into a door, but three points we live within, or three pivots in a continuing dance of our spirits with His. As He leads us through this dance of love, we know we are where we need to be, and we can rest secure in the assurance of His love.