The Lord guides by the application of His own Word. One can be positive in saying that no one is ever 'led' to disobey or contravene the teaching of Scripture. Instead of praying for guidance on many subjects, we should read the answer already given in the Word. For example,
Without any special prayer, or special guidance, this lamp unto our feet will settle the Lord's will for us. We stand at the cross-ways of life. Which is the path for us? This road seems attractive, but it leads in a direction where it will be difficult or impossible to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways. That is the Lord's guidance; that shuts the door for us. Scriptural examples, as well as individual experience, go to show that the Lord's answers are far more frequently in a negative than in a positive direction.
Take as an illustration, the case of the apostle Paul and those with him as given in Acts 16:6-10. After they had preached the word in Phrygia and Galatia, we find that they were forbidden to preach the word in Asia. Here is a negative leading; they were not told where they were to preach, but were simply forbidden to preach in that one spot. They arrived on their journey at Mysia, and here it appears they wondered whether it was the Lord's will for them to evangelize Bithynia; 'but the Spirit suffered them not'. Here again was a negative answer, there was no other course open apparently than to go straight on, so:
Passing by Mysia they came down to Troas, and a vision appeared unto Paul in the night ... immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
Here was at last the positive. There is no mystery whatever about the preponderance of negatives in our experience. Just as there is one right way of doing a thing and a hundred wrong ways, so is it with the will of God. And just as there are 99 chances to 1 that we shall adopt the wrong way first, so it is highly probable that we shall attempt to preach in our Asia, or assay to go into our Bithynia instead of going straight from our Galatia to Troas and Macedonia.
The negative answers will grow less in proportion in the nearness of our walk to the Lord, and the knowledge of His will. As we grow in grace we shall sense as it were the right and the wrong, we shall ask less for those things that are not according to His will, we shall seek more to please Him than to please ourselves, and instead of experiencing a whole list of negatives, we shall approach the Divine plan for us more quickly and certainly. Our prayers are answered when the Spirit forbids or suffers us not, just as surely as when He gives the vision and the assurance of the call.
With what certainty we tread when the positive answer is given: 'immediately we endeavoured', 'assuredly gathering', 'we came with a straight course', and we find the one 'whose heart the Lord opened', (Acts 16:6-15). It is helpful in this connection to remember the Septuagint rendering of Proverbs 3:6:
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall RIGHTLY DIVIDE thy paths.