Romans 12:1 gives us the primary pre-requisite to knowing the will of God—offering ourselves to God as living sacrifices.
This means that the fundamental practice in discernment is a heart surrendered to God. Abandonment to God disposes our hearts to engage with the Spirit and to receive the revelations which come. Renunciation is the dethronement of the ego so that the will of God may reign in us and be manifested through us.
Unfortunately, we have had those experiences of saying, “I want to know God’s will,” only to discover later that we really didn’t want to know it. St. Augustine, in his Confessions, wrote that he would pray, “thy kingdom come” but with the spirit that said, “but not now.”
“Religiosity” is what happens when we do not offer ourselves to God. One of the ways we can tell it’s happening is when we are willing to say or do whatever it takes to “win.” We are on thin ice when we so equate our will with God’s will that we will never give up until we get our way.
That’s why Paul speaks of our abandonment to God as a “sacrifice.” When we surrender ourselves to God, the first thing we discover is that God’s will is beyond our ability to grasp it through the power of our own senses. Even if we are on the right track, we will find that God’s will contains dimensions that can only be known through submission to insights other than our own and wisdom from the community that reveals things we would never see by ourselves.