I've recently been reading an introductory book on spiritual direction. One of the major topics covered is discerning God's will (usually rendered as "God's Will" with double capitals in the book). How do we discern God's will for our lives?
In itself, considering God's will is a good thing. Unfortunately, the current book's advice on discerning God's will does not have any depth on the most basic of all advice on God's will: loving God and neighbor. The author paints a picture of earnest and devout souls pouring themselves out in prayer in hope of finding that they have a commission for a Great Service, and scrutinizing every stray thought for a wisp of Holy Spirit that might lead them to what their Great Service should be.
The author shows some understanding that we humans are capable of self-deceit and self-delusion. But there seems little recognition that a great many Spiritual Quests are themselves somewhat self-deluded. God's general will is already revealed to us, from the negatives of not hating and not lusting to the positives of forgiving, loving, helping our families, helping our neighbors, greeting our enemies, and so forth.
C.S. Lewis once mentioned that it is easier to pray for a bore than to go visit him. Self-deceit enters our religious life when we pray for God to do what God has asked us to do. Nobody gets an additional assignment while refusing their original one. As the Scripture says, whoever handles a small trust well will be entrusted with more; whoever does not handle a small trust well will not be entrusted even with that. The Bible's advice on choosing good leadership is much the same: find people who have already done a good job with their families, who have already learned the basics and have already handled that trust well. They have built the necessary skills -- and shown the necessary faithfulness -- to be trusted with more. For our own lives, we have already been entrusted with certain small things that are within our grasp, things that are revealed in the Bible and are God's will for us all.
Someone on their knees, praying to know God's will (they would do it if only they knew it, they suppose), but ignoring their sick neighbor, not reconciling with their own families, harboring a grudge against the rude fellow at the office, and refusing be kind to their enemies -- and yet praying to "know God's will" -- this person's prayer to know God's will is not entirely sincere. The picture I had from the book was not so much of a noble soul praying, "Anything, Lord; anything", but of a would-be noble soul who did not want to love and serve the people he already knew, praying, "Anything but that, Lord; anything".