God Opens and Closes Doors: What Does That Mean?

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

Many times people will tell me that they do not know what God’s will is for their life. After discussing this with them I find that what they really are asking is what is God’s plan for their life. As far as what is God’s will for our life, that is easy. But, what takes more discernment and time is to know what God’s plan is for our life. Part of determining God’s plan is looking to see what doors God opens and what doors He closes. What does it mean for God to open and close doors? His Word, as always, provides the answers.

What is God’s will for our life?

As I mentioned, knowing God’s will for our life is easy. However, in order to understand God’s plan for our life we must come to the knowledge and acceptance of salvation. Once this takes place, then we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit Who gives us the wisdom, discernment, and power necessary to be a consciously willing participant in God’s plan (Proverbs 1:1-9; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16)

So then, before we begin to look at what it means for God to open and close doors, we must understand God’s will for our lives. As I just mentioned, we must come to the knowledge and acceptance of salvation. This is the first part of God’s will because He is not willing that any of us should perish in Hell. We see this stated in 2 Peter 3:9. Simply stated, God is not willing that any of us should perish, but that we all should come to repentance. This means, He wants us all to change our minds about His gift of salvation so that we would trust Christ as our Savior and be saved. At the same time, God foreknew who would trust Christ as their Savior and love Him. We see this in Romans 8:28-30 in the context and consideration of 1 Peter 1:1-2 and 1 John 5:1-5 Those whom God foreknew in eternity past are believers.

As believers, it is God’s will that we should be conformed to the image of His Son, which is made possible by being born again through Christ into God’s family (Romans 8:29; Galatians 3:26). Therefore, God’s will is that we believe the Gospel of Salvation and become like Christ. God’s plan for our lives and His actions in opening and closing doors comes next.

Is it Scriptural? Is there a need? Is it the desire of your heart?

What is God’s plan for our lives?

We see from Scripture that God has a plan for everyone. In the article, “Who are the elect in the Bible”, we learn that because of God’s foreknowledge, He set events in motion to accomplish His will and plan. In the case of Pharaoh, God foreknew that Pharaoh would make the choices he did, so God used Pharaoh as part of His plan. Take a look a the following Scriptures which talk about Pharoah’s choices:

Exodus 5:21-23; Exodus 7:13; Exodus 7:22; Exodus 8:15; Exodus 8:19; Exodus 8:32; Exodus 9:7; Exodus 9:12; Exodus 9:14-17; Exodus 9:27; Exodus 9:34-35; Exodus 10:1; Exodus 10:16; Exodus 10:20; Exodus 10:27; Exodus 11:10; Exodus 14:5-28.

After reading the above passages it is clear that God knew what Pharaoh would do when presented each situation. When Pharaoh knew he had sinned, it was too late (Exodus 9:27-10:29). It is in this context that we see the idea of God opening and closing doors. God knew that Pharaoh would make the choices He did so he used Pharaoh’s choices to go against God’s leading to accomplish His plan for Israel and to make the Egyptians know that God is the Lord, not Pharaoh (Exodus 7:1-5).

In our lives, God also knows the choices we will make. Therefore, as we go through life, God will open and close doors so that His plan is accomplished too. The question is, are we Spiritually discerning and willing to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit? Or, do we want to go our own way and ignore the discernment and leading of the Spirit? If God closes a door, do we consider why He did it or do we try and force our way through a door where God does not want us to be? Sadly, when this happens, it becomes very obvious that that was not God’s plan for us and our actions and even desires to remain there testify to this fact.

How can we be sensitive to what doors God is opening and closing?

There are three factors that we should consider when trying to determine if God is opening and closing a door:

Is it Scriptural?

First, is the door that you think God is opening Scripturally correct. By this I mean, does going through this door violate any tenants of Scripture? Likewise, would it be unscriptural for you to leave from where God currently has you? For example, I have met several pastors who believe that they spend several years at a church, then move on to a bigger church. In their wake, they leave behind a church that is left with no one to take over and the local flock suffers. This is not to say that a pastor should not ever leave a church this way as there are some churches that are rebellious and heretical and will not listen to Scriptural leading. But, in the case of a church that is faithful, has anyone been raised up to take over before the pastor departs. Unfortunately, in many cases, I see the pastor simply abandon the church to fend for themselves.

Is there a need?

Second, you will find that when God opens a door, it is apparent that there is a Scriptural need to go through that door. For example, many pastors have told me that they do not know what ministries they should offer in their church. I tell them to look and see who God has put in your midst. If there are a number of single moms, then provide a ministry for them. Are there a number of homeless people there, then provide a ministry to them. Likewise, don’t do something just because everyone else is doing something. It may not be God’s plan that every church in your neighborhood provides for the same need. Instead, be sensitive to what needs are not being met, them pray and consider if there is another door that God wants you to walk through.

Is it the desire of your heart?

As you draw closer to Christ and God is conforming you to be like Christ, you will find that your desires change (Psalms 37:4). When considering if you should go through a door that God has shown you that is Scriptural and that there is a need, does it consume you? Do you feel compelled to go through the door because you earnestly want to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit? Are you excited about the prospect of what can be accomplished for the Lord if you go through that door? Have you prayed about it and earnestly asked God to reveal in your heart if this is what you should be doing? If so, you will find that if God wants you to go through the door, then it will become your desire because it is His desire.


When it comes to God’s plan for our life, we must look to see what doors God opens and what doors He closes. To be discerning about this, we must be saved and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Part of this discernment involves three considerations. Is going through a door Scriptural? Is there a need? And has God made it the desire of our heart? By asking these three simple questions, we can better discern what doors that God wants us to go through and not go through.

Here is some related reading for you: 5 Ways to Follow God’s Plan for Your Life

Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version

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