Writings on Discernment

Discerning God’s Will in Dreams and Prayer: Some Guidelines

Written by Trinity Cathedral Journey Group, including some ideas from To Pray to Grow (Flora Slosson Wuellner), On Being a Christian (Hans Kung), and Journey Group suggestions

Source: Trinity Cathedral Monday Night Journey Group,

Little Rock, AR

When a course of action seems to present itself through dreams, prayer, or synchronicity, how do we know if it is indeed Divine Will?

The following questions applied separately may not give us a definitive answer, but applied collectively they can help determine who or what is truly calling us to action. They may help us discern God’s will.

1. Is it harmful? God’s will is man and woman’s well-being. Do I feel free or compelled? The Spirit is not compulsive; we have a choice. A sense of urgency may signal neurotic compulsion, rather than freedom of choice in God.

2. Does the course of action take into account the obvious facts of my situation? Does it acknowledge my other responsibilities? Do circumstances seem to be shifting of their own accord to accommodate this course of action?

3. Does the course of action feel natural ? do I feel “at home” with it? Can I look back at my life to date and see this new development as a positive, natural extension of my life’s journey? Does it seem to “fit?”

4. In retrospect, what have been the fruits of my choice? If we experience consistent failure or disappointment in a course of action, perhaps our true gifts lie elsewhere.

5. Even though individuation sometimes means going against mainstream culture, is this a decision I can put before the broader community, at least for discussion? If no one in my Christian community can support my course of action, I may need to re-think it.

6. Is the message persistent? Am I hearing it from a number of sources?

7. Is the action required of me, or of other persons? God’s will for our lives usually requires us to do our own footwork.

8. Do I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time and thought “building a case” for this course of action? Could I be rationalizing some compulsive behavior?

9. Am I willing to take “no” for an answer? Do I feel like everything depends on this particular course of action being carried out? Or that this is the only “right” way?

10. As I live out this course of action, am I growing in the love of Christ? Is the world around me becoming brighter and more colorful? Am I better able to communicate with more people? Or has my world become more dark and narrow, my own place in it more cut-off and isolated?

11. Do I have a growing sense of connectedness to God’s love in Christ?

12. Am I growing in my ability to show this love to others?

13. The most important thing in discernment is seeking to live out the love of God in Christ Jesus. Keep it central.