It can be confusing when studying the faith because there are many words and phrases that seem to have more than one meaning. God’s will is one example. Many times I will see it used in this way:
If you do God’s Will, you will get to heaven.
Here, “God’s Will” is just a shorthand way of referring to God’s overall set of rules for us to follow. There’s the commandments and other rules from the Bible, plus all the rules from the Church’s doctrine. Those would all be God’s Will, in a sense. God truly will’s us to follow these rules. The reward is a place in heaven. To do God’s Will would then be to follow God’s laws (CCC 2825). Here is another way I see God’s will used:
It was God’s will that I got hired for the job.
In this sense, “God’s will” is used like the idea of destiny. “It was my destiny that I got the job.” This is a much more bold claim to make. Anyone can say we need to follow God’s laws, but for a person to say God personally directed something to happen in their life is a little arrogant in my eyes. It may be completely true that God did make something happen for the person, but there’s no way to know for sure. For the most part, God does not predetermine what’s going to happen in our lives. He gives people free will to make decisions (CCC 1036).
I think it is best to avoid using God’s will to refer to destiny. Better to say, “God answered my prayer, and I got the job.” Even then, however, the reality is God did not force the manager to hire the person. At most, God planted the idea in his head that this person would be a good hire. The manager still had the free will to choose who to hire (CCC 311, 1705). Prayers are not useless — they have an effect — but they will never force someone to do something.
Throughout this article, I used a capital ‘W’ to refer to the phrase meaning God’s laws and a lowercase ‘w’ to refer to the meaning about destiny. I will try to remember to use capital and lowercase letters if I write any future articles using both phrases. I like my writing to be as clear as possible though, so I doubt I will refer to destiny using “God’s will”. I will only use it as the Church does, about what God wants Catholics to be doing.
May God bless you with his abundant grace,