- 1 Most Relevant Verses
- 2 1. Clarify the difference between direction and discernment.
- 3 2. Ask God “Why?” about your life situations.
- 4 3. Get in touch with your feelings that you’re missing something to alert you that you need to pray for discernment. .
- 5 4. Ask for the spiritual gift of discernment.
- 6 5. Pray for Wisdom
- 7 6. Expect the answer to come.
- 8 7. Ask for a discerning heart.
- 9 8. Use discernment to heal.
- 10 9. Test out what you think you have discerned.
- 11 10. Act on what you discern.
- 12 Related articles
Most Relevant Verses
ToolsVerse page’>Psalm 119:66
Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
ToolsVerse page’>Psalm 119:27
Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders.
ToolsVerse page’>Psalm 119:125
I am Your servant; give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies.
ToolsVerse page’>James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
ToolsVerse page’>1 Kings 3:11-12
God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
Praying for direction for your life is something that can change your present and future. Part of knowing the right direction to go is in having good discernment, or the ability to see the big picture. Praying for discernment is the act of asking God to help you clarify the truth about your life. Once you know the truth, acting on it can change your life. Here are some of my ideas on praying for discernment.
1. Clarify the difference between direction and discernment.
I think that praying for discernment is a bit different than praying for direction. When I think about praying for direction, I think that you’re asking God what course of action to take or you’re making a choice, or you’re trying to decide on going somewhere, answering a mission call, etc.
Discernment to me means is asking God to help clarify and sort things out in your life, whether it be getting to the root cause of your problems, or gaining spiritual insight into your situation, or seeing more clearly what’s going on in your relationships. It’s more about finding the truth. The Bible says, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
2. Ask God “Why?” about your life situations.
When we pray for direction, we ask “who, what, when, where, how?” You ask God, “Who should I partner with? What should I choose? When should I do it? Where should I go? How should I go about doing it?”
In praying for discernment we ask “why?” Why am I feeling so angry right now over such a little thing? Why isn’t my marriage working out? Why do I keep making bad choices? Why is my child rebelling? Why do I feel so alone and fearful? Why do I feel like I’m not getting anywhere when I pray? Why do I keep putting off applying for a job?”
3. Get in touch with your feelings that you’re missing something to alert you that you need to pray for discernment. .
Usually people that are enjoying the way things are going in their lives don’t think to pray for discernment. By and large the people who usually pray for discernment are those who feel like their lives are out of whack, full of turmoil and heartache and conflict, not those who like things as they are. If things don’t feel right in your life, take it as a sign that it’s time to pray for discernment.
It is a fairly brave and bold thing to pray for discernment. Jesus describes it this way:
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21)
4. Ask for the spiritual gift of discernment.
Discernment, especially spiritual discernment, is a very big deal. First of all, it is necessary so we’ll know the difference between good and evil. In this context, discernment is a quality that grows with an individual. For instance, a child cannot discern the danger of a busy roadway like an adult can.
Jesus talks about discernment when he says that the religious leaders know how to interpret the color of the sky to determine the coming weather. (Matthew 16:3) He contrasts this human ability of the Pharisees and Sadducees with their spiritual inability to discern who Jesus is.
Ezekiel 43:23 says about those who minister: “They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.”
Ezekiel is talking about seeing the underlying spiritual qualities of things. This verse doesn’t tell the leaders to make a clearly defined list of everything possible in the world and then rate it as good or evil. Unfortunately, the Pharisees actually attempted to do this by writing rules about everything. It didn’t work because there were too many rules to remember.
Instead this verse tells the spiritual leaders to teach people how to distinguish between things for themselves. Is this sacred or selfish? Good or bad? God-serving or self-serving? Healthy or dysfunctional? Freeing or imprisoning? True or false? Helpful or hurtful? Unifying or partisan?
5. Pray for Wisdom
Solomon prays for wisdom and God says in 1 Kings 3:10-12 “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”
It actually pleases God greatly when we ask for discernment! What makes it more interesting is that the things God lists that Solomon could have asked for are exactly the types of things we typically pray for: good things for this life – strong bodies, provisions and wealth, relief from enemies and troubles. Perhaps there’s an ascending order to the worth of things we might pray for. Perhaps on the lower rung are our prayers for provisions for this life. This passage leads us to believe that God is pleased when we climb to a higher rung when we ask for something more useful in the Kingdom, like wisdom or discernment.
6. Expect the answer to come.
God directly tells Solomon that his prayer will be granted. This doesn’t happen often when we pray for things like getting a book published or getting into a certain college.
7. Ask for a discerning heart.
God doesn’t say that he will give Solomon a wise and discerning mind but rather a wise and discerning heart. Intellectual discernment might be more closely related to the ability and think, reason and grasp. The discernment of the heart seems to operate in a different sphere – the more spiritual center of a person’s life purposes, desires, hopes and dreams.
8. Use discernment to heal.
Discernment is more like a diagnostic tool than anything else. In the Bible it mentions the naming of spirits, and I think that when we pray for discernment God helps us put a name to a truth about our lives so we can then proceed to deal with it. Discernment is more like the uncovering of things we weren’t aware of at first glance, things we’d rather not become aware of, something like “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
There is also another related Biblical facet to this that is listed as the spiritual gift of “discerning of spirits.” I Cor. 12 lists the gifts of the Spirit in verse 10 “to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another the distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in tongues…”
Today as in New Testament times there are those who practice deliverance by naming the evil spirit being cast out. For instance, an evangelist might pray that a spirit of fear or infirmity or alcoholism might leave a person. Psychologists work in much the same way, uncovering the root causes of our emotional problems.
9. Test out what you think you have discerned.
I John 4:1 goes a step further talking about spiritual discernment. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Vs. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
John tells us that we even need discernment in our own churches to sort out the true spirit of Christ from other things that look similar, but are rooted in other things such as materialism, self centered individualism, political power plays, science and logic, sensationalism, voyeurism, judgmental tendencies, ego, jealousy, pride, greed and the like.
10. Act on what you discern.
Discernment leads us onto a healing path. If the answer to our prayer for discernment has uncovered a fault or problem, it leads us on the action-oriented path of repentance or confrontation of evil. Once something bad has been named and uncovered, it has to be dealt with. Now it’s time to pray for the strength and guidance to know what action we need to take!
Throughout the years I have had close relationships with people in need of help and support and I have made many mistakes by taking what people say at face value without realizing that people sometimes play games to keep from becoming vulnerable or being hurt. Many times our relationship only progressed after I was able to speak the truth in love about what I saw going on between us that wasn’t helpful. Discernment is absolutely vital in all of our relationships and God’s direction is even more important in knowing what to do about what we do discern.
Discernment is tied to the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 2:10 says,
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God…
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Scripture prayer for guidance: Show me your good way.
Prayer for God’s Strength one step at a time
Finding answers to prayer during long term problems
Copyright Karen Barber 2011. All rights reserved.
There are lots of things in life that needs clarity. Just because it looks “right” in any of your “measurement”, doesn’t mean every thing is just right. I am not minimizing the ability to reason or think through. But there are things that are way beyond our ability to look or think through, especially when we come to spiritual things. How do we know we are on the right path? How do we know it is the will of God? How do we know we are doing the will of God? How do we know? Where do we get the confirmation? from our senses? People? Or what else? These are not just easy questions. In order to approve all things and hold fast, that which is good or right, we need to develop the ability to discern.
Often times, making a right choice is more than doing something smart. The ability to discern is more than having a good skill. Discernment is a spiritual gift, according to the scripture, and that is to be able to distinguish whether a saying, teaching, doctrine, written word, or event is right or wrong, or it is from the good or the evil one. But the question also is, how do we know that? How do we know whether the saying, teaching, doctrine or any word or experience is from God or the devil? Here are few hints for you.
1. You need to know your Bible. Sounds simple, right! It sounds simple but unless you know the scripture, not the head the knowledge, but having intimate relationship with the word, there is no way that you discern what is from God and what is from the devil. It is through the scripture that you discern the source. Not knowing the scripture leads to error and destruction. “If I were the devil,” writes J. I. Packer, “one of my first aims would be to stop folks from digging into the Bible…I should do all I could to surround it with the spiritual equivalent of pits, thorns, hedges and mantraps…” why? Because it is through the word that you come to the knowledge and understanding of what God’s will is.
2. Don not accepts anything that you read or listens on face value. “The fool believes everything,” says the scripture in Proverbs 14: 15 but, “the prudent takes heed to his step.” The greatest mistake that we can make is when we receive and believe everything that we heard and ignore to discern. No matter what you heard, or whom you listen to, you need to carefully test and examine it in the light of the Bible. We are instructed to test, prove, examine everything in I Thessalonians 5:21. Remember, everything means everything!
3. Listen to God’s voice and seek His precence diligently. Most people want to hear from God what they want to hear and when they want to hear, but not what He wants to tell them. Because our lives filled with a bunch of hyper-stimulated and meaningless activities, we don’t have the patience to listen to His voice and seek His precence diligently. But seeking God must be our diligent work, because those who seek will find Him. When you have the gift of discernment it motivates you to seek God’s will and purpose and apply that with understanding. The bible says in Prov 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Just your way looks right, feels right, sounds right doesn’t mean it is right. Not all the way is God’s way. There are “things”, “voices” or “ways” sounds or looks identical to God’s will, but how do you discern if you don’t develop the spirit of discernment? Don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. Don’t pray just for the sake of prayer, but develop a hunger to be in His presence. God doesn’t want your list, but your heart. The greatness of prayer is not on the length, or the quality of your words but the humbleness of your heart the ultimate desire to be in His presence more than anything else.
4. Ask God for the gift of discernment. God gives gifts. The gift of discernment is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gift of Discernment is the ability to perceive whether such things as people, events, or beliefs are from God or the devil. People with the gift of discernment know that Satan and his demons disguise themselves as holy (1 Cor. 11:14-15), empowers counterfeit miracles (Ex. 7:11-22; 8:7; Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Tim. 3:8) deceive people (2 Thess. 2:9), and empowers false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1), false prophets (Matt. 7:15), false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13), and false doctrines (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3).
5. It is one thing to desire the gift of discernment – and it is quite another to use it properly in a right way. We should not act like children concerning spiritual gifts as Corinthians did in 1 Corinthians. Spiritual gifts are not given for entertainment or any kind of personal gain. They should not also be treated as any kind of natural talents. There is a distinction between a natural talent and a supernatural or spiritual gift. Both comes from God, but spiritual gifts are supernatural. And the Holy Spirit or God gives gifts for three general purposes:
1. To glorify God (1 Pt 4:11) and Christ (John 16:14).
2. To edify the body of Christ (Ep 4:12-13; 1 Cr 14:26).
3. To lead souls to Christ (1 Cr 14:16; Ep 4:11).
The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to serve others, to bless others and to benefit others. So that the whole church, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14, may be edified or the whole church may be built up. You are using the gift that you receive from the Holy Spirit for your benefit but it is NOT given to make you “special,” “glorify” or cute in any way in the church. It is one thing to desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit but it is quite another to submit to the giver, and use it to edify ourselves and others in a biblical manner.
The need for spiritual discernment among God’s people is greater today than it ever has been! And I think we all need to ask God, the giver of all gifts, through prayer, according to His will, in a manner that glorify Him and for the benefit of His church.
Eyob B Kassa
April, 12, 2012