Discerning the Will of God

Discerning the Will of God

Discerning the Will of God

An Ignatian Guide to Christian Decision Making

Fr. Gallagher's indispensable guide will help you make spiritual sense of major decisions and align with God's true purpose for you. Real-life experiences bring home the benefit of Ignatius's ageless teachings and offer tools for finding clarity in a challenging and complex world.

Find God's will for you in the choices that life offers!

Drawing from the timeless methods of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and richly illustrated with examples and stories, this book offers straightforward guidance for synchronizing your will with God's. Fr. Gallagher takes you through each step of the process, including opening your heart to whatever God wants; making use of silence, the Eucharist, Scripture, and spiritual direction; and finding clarity.

Gallagher's insights can be adapted to any of life's decisions—from  daily commitments to reconnect more deeply to faith to monumental choices like marriage and vocation. Emminently practical, this important resource will assist laypeople who want to discover where God is leading them, as well as spiritual directors, retreat directors, and counselors who can implement its wisdom in their work with others.


Introduction: When Faced with a Major Life Choice

Text of St. Ignatius


1. The Question: Which Choice Does God Want?

2. The Foundation: God's Infinite Love and Our Response
"We Love Because He First Loved Us"
"To Do Your Will Is My Delight"

3. The Disposition: Openness to Whatever God Wills
"Whatever You Want, Lord"
"Loved to the Death by Jesus Christ"
Sent By Jesus

4. The Means
Spiritual "Exercises"
Holy Eucharist
Sacred Scripture
Spiritual Direction
Review of Spiritual Experience
From Preparation to Discernment


5. Clarity Beyond Doubting: The First Mode
"He Could not Doubt About the Matter"
"Certitude and Deep Peace"
"There Was no Doubting It"
"It Had Always Been Clear"
First Mode of Discernment: Questions to Consider

6. An Attraction of the Heart: The Second Mode
"With Deep Devotion and Tears"
"Experience of Consolations and Desolations"
"Again That Consolation Would be Given Me"
"Only When There Was Peace in My Heart"
"The Room in My Heart"
"When I Was Most Joyful"
"Like a Magnet Drawing Me"
Second Mode of Discernment: Questions to Consider

7. A Preponderance of Reasons: The Third Mode
A Further Mode of Discernment
A Time of Tranquility
Third Mode of Discernment: First Way
"She Suggested Looking at the Advantages and Disadvantages"
Third Mode of Discernment: Second Way
"When I Took the First Point"
Third Mode of Discernment: Questions to Consider

Part Three: FRUIT

8. The Value of the Process of Discernment
Concluding the Process
The Process and Growth
The Process and Grace

9. The Fruit of Discernment
"And This Gives Me Peace and Joy"
"In Your Will is Our Peace"

Appendix: Text of St. Ignatius


Reviews and endorsements

"Father Gallagher has emerged as one of the foremost commentators on Ignatian spirituality in the United States."
Harvey D. Egan, SJ, professor, Boston College


"Fr. Tim Gallagher has quickly become one of the leading commentators on Ignatian discernment."
George Aschenbrenner, SJ

"When we are doing the will of God, that alone is enough to satisfy us. When we are not, all the pleasure and possession of the world are not. How many books have you read on the subject of discerning God's will? Whether it is one or a hundred, you should read this book."
Matthew Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of The Rhythm of Life and The Dream Manager


Discerning the Will of God is the sixth and perhaps most important in Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s books on discernment. It raises the perennial question for the committed Christian: How can I really know God’s will for me? Gallagher addresses this through what has become his hallmark style, namely the interaction of an Ignatian text—here, the three times in which a sound and good choice may be made—with practical examples. The result is a work of far-reaching significance in the hope it inspires that God’s will may be known, embraced, and lovingly fulfilled.”
Gill K. Goulding, CJ, University of Toronto


“The teaching of Ignatius Loyola on discerning the will of God is his most important contribution to Christian spirituality. It is also extremely difficult to explain. One approach is to present and comment on the relevant parts of the Spiritual Exercises. Another is to work with examples taken from the actual experience of people today. The strength of Gallagher’s new book is that he combines the two approaches in a lucid and helpful way. What I most admire is what lies behind Gallagher’s book—an extraordinary patience in gathering so many apposite examples. These come in part from his own experience as a spiritual director and in part from his reading. This patience reveals a great love of people who struggle to find the will of God in the complexities of today’s world. It also manifests an appreciation of the ministry of spiritual direction and the place that it holds in facilitating Christian decision making.”
Brian O’Leary, SJ, spiritual director and professor, Milltown Institute of Philosophy and Theology

Paperback / 172 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9.25