A stunning photograph captures a person standing at the edge of a cliff, bathed in golden sunlight, their face determined and full of faith, ready to leap forward into the unknown.

When God Tells You To Move Forward: Understanding And Acting On Divine Guidance

Life is full of decisions, some small and some major. For people of faith, an important question arises when facing these crossroads: Is God guiding me in a particular direction? If so, how can I be sure of what He is saying, and find the courage to follow through?

If you’re wondering how to know if God is prompting you to move in a new direction and how to respond in faith, this article will walk you through biblical principles, examples, and practical guidance to equip you to hear and obey God’s voice.

Biblical Examples of God Calling People to Step Out

Abraham’s call to Canaan

God called Abraham (originally named Abram) to leave his country and people and go to the land of Canaan. This was a bold call, as Abraham would have to leave behind everything familiar and start over in a strange land.

Yet Abraham obeyed in faith, later being called God’s friend and the father of all who have faith (James 2:23).

Abraham’s obeying God’s call was not a single event but a lifelong journey. God gave him a son in old age and called him to sacrifice that son. Though painful and bewildering, Abraham persevered in trusting God to fulfill His promises. His life illustrates moving forward through faith in God’s word.

Moses’ call to lead Israel

God called Moses, who had fled Egypt years prior, to now lead His people Israel out of slavery. Despite initial reluctance, Moses accepted God’s call and enabled Israel’s exodus through obedient trust and cooperation with God’s miraculous deeds.

Moses led a nation yet remained close enough to God to speak face to face as a friend (Exodus 33:11).

Like Abraham, Moses’s response to God’s call to step forward transformed not only his own life but that of an entire nation. His example shows that responding to divine guidance can have far greater impact than we may initially foresee or even imagine.

Jesus’ call of the disciples

Jesus called unlikely candidates – fishermen, a tax collector – to begin His ministry by proclaiming the arrival of God’s kingdom. They followed by faith, though often not fully comprehending Jesus’ identity or mission.

Like Abraham and Moses, Jesus called His followers to step out from their familiar lives and trust Him into an unknown future.

The disciples’ positive response to Jesus – leaving boats, accounting tables, and former ways of life behind – spread the message of salvation beyond Israel and around the world. Their courage to step forward on Jesus’ call speaks across centuries to all embarking on God’s leading into the unknown today.

How God Speaks to Lead Us Forward Today

The Holy Spirit’s inner promptings

One way God guides His children is through the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. This can involve a gentle nudge in our spirit to take a certain action, a quickening in our heart about a decision, or an inner sense of peace regarding His will.

As we grow closer to God in prayer and Bible study, we become more attuned to the still, small voice of His Spirit.

For example, a person may feel the Lord prompting them to connect with an old friend going through a hard time. Or someone may sense a nudge to apply for a new role at work that lines up with their gifts and passions.

Paying attention and responding to these subtle Holy Spirit leadings helps us stay on course with God’s forward path for our life.

Circumstances and opening/closing doors

The circumstances and open doors God orchestrates can also serve to guide us. If we pray for wisdom and seek the Lord’s will in a decision, He can orchestrate events to confirm His preferred path forward.

This may involve providing new opportunities we didn’t foresee or closing doors to options that would lead us astray from His plan.

For instance, if we feel torn between two job offers, the Lord may allow one option to clearly fade while affirming and opening doors for the other choice. Or if we decide to move to a new city, He may allow us to easily find affordable housing, a good church, and other helpful resources to confirm we’re headed the right direction.

Staying sensitive to these providential signposts helps us perceive and cooperate with God’s guidance.

Scripture illumination

In addition to inner promptings and providential circumstances, God often guides His people through illumination of His written Word. As we read the Bible, particular verses can leap off the page with timely wisdom for a decision we’re weighing.

Or as we memorize and meditate on Scripture, certain promises may shine with direction and confirmation regarding God’s path for our life.

For example, someone struggling with whether to leave a dysfunctional workplace may read Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” This verse could confirm God’s peace and provision to step into a new job aligned with His will.

Listening for His voice through aptly timed scriptures helps us stay in step with the Spirit.

Wise counsel

Finally, the Lord frequently directs His followers through the wise counsel of spiritually mature Christians. Fellow believers who know us well can often perceive God’s hand leading us into new ventures or relationships – sometimes even better than we can discern it ourselves!

So it’s important we listen to and weigh godly input from trusted mentors and friends as we seek the Lord’s will.

For instance, a teenager may feel excitement about pursuing a new friendship that his youth pastor sees clearly is leading him away from wholesome community. By humbly heeding the pastor’s concerns over his own enthusiasm, the teen can avoid much future pain and stay aligned with God’s best.

Getting good advice provides an essential means through which the Lord shepherds His sheep.

Keys to Discerning God’s Voice Accurately

Study Scripture to recognize God’s character

The Bible teaches us about who God is and how He acts. As we study Scripture, we learn to recognize God’s attributes like love, faithfulness, justice, and sovereignty. This helps us discern if a prompting aligns with God’s character or not.

For example, the Holy Spirit would never tell us to lie or sin because that violates God’s moral character. Studying the Bible helps us become attuned to God’s voice and recognize counterfeits.

Submit personal desires to God’s will

Our own desires can distort what we think God is saying. That’s why we must surrender our will to God daily and seek what He wants over our own preferences. As we submit areas like career, relationships, finances, and plans to Him in prayer, we make our hearts receptive to His direction.

We may need to release dreams or let go of our timeline to align with God’s timing and purposes.

Seek godly counsel

Getting feedback from mature believers helps us gain perspective on guidance we think is from God. Their spiritual wisdom and objectivity provide accountability and protect us from deception. According to Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Godly friends can encourage discernment and spot potential areas of concern.

Listen for confirmation

God often confirms His guidance by repeating it through different means. As we stay sensitive to His voice, He will confirm it through Scripture, prayer, other believers, circumstances, and even our thoughts. For example, a sense of peace and joy from the Holy Spirit can accompany God’s voice.

By patiently waiting for confirmation, we avoid hastily running ahead or missing God’s best. If confirmation does not come, we should hesitate to act until we gain clarity.

Stepping Out in Faith When God Says to Move

Renew your trust in God’s loving guidance

When God tells us it’s time for a change, it can be scary to step out in faith. Yet we can find peace in knowing God lovingly guides us each step of the way. Here are some tips to renew your trust in God’s direction:

  • Pray for faith and courage to follow where God leads.
  • Study scriptures about God’s guidance and provision.
  • Recall past examples of God’s faithfulness in your life.
  • Seek counsel from mature believers.
  • Let go of fear and anxiety about the future.

As Charles Stanley wisely said, “Our heavenly Father loves us too much to allow us to choose our own way.” Trust that God sees the big picture and wants to lead you on the best path.

Take steps while continuing to seek God’s direction

When God calls you to move in a new direction, balance action with continued sensitivity to His Spirit. Here are some tips:

  • Take small steps of obedience to test God’s leading.
  • Keep praying for wisdom and paying attention to circumstances.
  • Move ahead only with peace in your spirit.
  • Stay ready to change course if needed.
  • Ask God to close doors that aren’t His will.

As the saying goes, direction, not perfection! Allow room for adjustment as you walk out God’s plan step-by-step.

Persevere through uncertainty and wait on God’s timing

While moving forward in faith, you may enter times of uncertainty and waiting. Here are some encouragement:

  • Stand firm in your calling even when the way seems unclear.
  • Keep seeking God daily through prayer and Bible study.
  • Look for small signs of God’s guidance each step.
  • Learn lessons God is teaching you in the waiting.
  • Trust God’s perfect timing – it’s never too early or too late.

As Charles Stanley said, “When we choose to follow Jesus Christ, we choose to be patient.” Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus as you walk out His plan!


God still speaks today, guiding His people forward into His plan and purposes. While hearing God’s voice takes spiritual sensitivity, His promises assure us that if we seek Him, He will make His will clear.

When God says to move, we can step out in faith, knowing He will equip us for the journey ahead.

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