A PRACTICAL TOOL FOR DISCERNING GOD'S GUIDANCE FOR OUR DECISIONS (Funk, M. (2003), Discernment Matters: Listening with the Ear of the Heart, Chapter 3). It  assumes our heart's desire is God, however, obscured this may be.

Step 1 is to ask the Holy Spirit to help.  Ask the Holy Spirit within you  what is the question before me? What does God want of me here? The trick, for want of a better word, is to pause and observe rather than think. To watch and see what rises from your heart. A prayer like: "Come, Holy Spirit, come. Bring to mind your grace, to see God's way for me. Come, Holy Spirit, come" may be useful, but feel free use your own words.

Step 2 is to make a virtual decision. In our minds. Still we refrain from thinking, but having made a virtual decision, we observe and sort the thoughts, images, scenarios and consequences that arise. Thoughts from God, self, others, and evil forces. Write notes if you have too.  This is about knowing your thoughts and letting them inform your consciousness. If you draw a blank, it may be that you need to revisit the question in step 1 or persevere in the silence and condensing of your thoughts.

Step 3 is to ask God for a confirming sign that if I make this decision it will be God's will for me. This clear sign will come from outside of you, it won't be your idea, and there should be a link to the decision. The decision will come with a grace to make it possible even if this is difficult. If there is no confirming sign, revisit making another virtual decision in step 2 and continue. It is important to wait, and not seek to gather data from lots of sources unless it is from those closeness to us or a father or mother in faith. The question is what does God want me to do. The process is one of discernment and not management.

Step 4 requires you to make the decision, through accepting the confirming sign. The decision may be ritualised, like signing a deed, taking a walk or lighting a candle. This closes down other options.

Step 5 is to watch your thoughts and guard your heart. Difficulties and doubts may arise, but stay on the course you have set. For if God wants something else from us, he will initiate it. We rest in confidence that we have made a decision in good faith, and God will honour this.

My prayer is it may be of help to us as we seek to make our hard decisions in the light of God who has chosen us to bear fruit in his world.