In chapter 10 of “On The Way Basic Christian Training” we discuss how God guides and directs us. The primary way is guidance by the Holy Spirit and part of the section on how the Holy Spirit guides us you can read in the excerpt below:-
1) Guidance by the Holy Spirit - Introduction
While Jesus was on this earth He taught, guided and directed His disciples and all who would listen. Toward the end of His earthly ministry Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving them (John 13:33) but He promised He would not leave them as orphans.
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (John 14:16-18).
Jesus said the Holy Spirit would dwell in them (2 Cor 1:21-22) and the Holy Spirit dwells in all Christians today. We are spirit beings, living in a physical body with a soul (mind, will and emotions) (1Thess 5:23). The Holy Spirit interacts with our spirit (Rom 9:1) to bring God’s guidance and direction, “the spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the inner depths of his heart” (Prov 20:27). “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14). As God’s children we need to be led by God, by His Spirit.
2) Guidance by the Holy Spirit – the Inner Witness
Our salvation was a work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) and the Holy Spirit dwells in us (1 Cor 3:16) communing with our spirit (heart or conscience).
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit (Rom 9:1).
Our spirit strengthened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit can guide and direct, accusing us or giving us confidence to know right from wrong, good from bad and God’s direction rather than the direction of the flesh. This sense of direction will come with peace and is part of what we call the inner witness of our new spirit in harmony with the Holy Spirit.
For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God (1 John 3:20-21).
The inner witness of the Holy Spirit can also bring God’s wisdom as a word or idea and we know it is God as it comes with a sense of peace and assurance.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17, see also Col 3:15).
The risen Christ appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and He preached the gospel to them (Luke 24:13-35). As He broke bread with them over supper they realized who He was. Jesus then disappeared but one disciple said, “did not our heart (spirit) burn within us while He talked with us on the road and while He opened the scripture to us?” (v32). An inner witness! Word in parentheses added.
God did amazing miracles through the prophet Elijah. Elijah had executed 450 prophets of Baal, but the wicked queen Jezebel who worshipped the evil god Baal, threatened Elijah’s life and he ran from her. God found Elijah hidden in a cave; I love how God approached Elijah.
And He said, "Go out, and stand on the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and ] a still, small voice” (1 Kin 19:11-12 Amp).
God was not in the wind, earthquake or fire but he came as, “a sound of gentle stillness and a still, small voice”. We often look for the dramatic but the Holy Spirit speaks in gentle stillness and peace. When we pray for direction the answer may not come right away (Ps 40 :1) but when the Holy Spirit speaks and brings us an answer as a scripture, thought, words, conviction or an idea these will come as that gentle still small voice. Where I used to work we had a very slow elevator and often God’s words of guidance would come during my solitary trips on the elevator; they would come into my spirit with that sense of peace and assurance.
The Holy Spirit clearly speaks to Christians. The Holy Spirit said to the Deacon Philip that he should witness to an Ethiopian eunuch as he travelled in his chariot (Acts 8:29). The apostle Paul was in a trance and saw a vision. Following the vision the Holy Spirit spoke and gave him instructions (Acts 10:19). In these examples above it is not clear how the Holy Spirit spoke, in an audible voice or the inner still small voice.