Prayer for discernment

Heavenly Father, I approach Your throne of grace and mercy, leaving my burdens at the foot of the cross. Father today I request that Your Holy Spirit draws near as You give me discernment in all that I do.

Proverbs 3:5-6 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight. 

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Discernment

Open the eyes of my heart, Oh Lord, so that I may be able to identify the plans of the enemy. Guide me to make the right decisions in my life as I follow through with Your will. Raise me up, Lord, so that I would not fall by the wayside. Take full complete control of every aspect of my life.

1 Kings 3:9
So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Divine Wisdom

Father, nothing in this world escapes Your sight. You are the God that sees, that hears and will deliver me from the grasp of the enemy.

Invoke divine wisdom within me so that I would not be a slave to my flesh. For the flesh is weak, but the spirit is willing.

Psalm 119:66
Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.

Hebrews 5:14
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Obedience

Teach me to walk in obedience while I stand firm on You, my rock and fortress. I pray that the discernment that I seek awakens within me as I remain faithful to You, my Lord and Savior.

In Jesus’ Mighty name I pray, Amen!

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prayer for discernment

I’m a young Christian, from South Trinidad, seeking the wisdom of the Word and God’s blessings on my life. A journey, that’s just begun, but living to the Glory of God.

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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.

Related articles

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.

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Throughout Scripture we are reminded of God’s direction over our lives. He is our good Shepherd who leads us and He desires that we follow the path that leads to joy and contentment.  When we pray for God’s guidance and for discernment through the Holy Spirit, we can rest assured that God will provide wisdom! We do not have to worry about our next step or about tomorrow because we know who guides our way! Do not rush your day without going before God to seek guidance!

A Short Prayer for Guidance

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your guidance. Forgive me for getting ahead of Your plans, and help me know when to stop and listen for Your direction. Your ways are perfect, Lord. Thank You for offering gentle grace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
– Kristine Brown

Prayer for Guidance from the Holy Spirit

Lord, I pray you would move the Spirit more boldly in my life. I know that any sin can grieve and diminish the voice of the Spirit, and I pray against the temptation to sin. Help me crave your presence more than I crave sin. Help me grow in the fruit of the Spirit and so walk closer with Yourself. I pray for guidance from your Spirit- let your will and promises always be a meditation of my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
– Kenny Luck

A Prayer for Guidance When Life is Challenging

Lord, I’m here today with open hands and an open heart, ready to depend on you to help me through the day and all it will bring my way. Help me be like Nehemiah, help me come to you for guidance, strength, provision and protection. As I face tough choices and hard situations, help me remember my belovedness, help me remember that I am Your child and Your representative to the world around me. Help me live today in a way that brings honor to Your holy name. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
– Charles Stanley

prayer for discernment

Prayer for Guidance in the Day Ahead 

Good morning, Lord! Today’s a new day, a chance for a new start. Yesterday is gone and with it any regrets, mistakes, or failures I may have experienced. It’s a good day to be glad and give thanks, and I do, Lord. Thank you for today, a new opportunity to love, give, and be all that you want me to be.

Today I want to start the day with you on my mind and in my heart. As I dress, let me wear the armor you’ve provided daily: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the shoes of peace, and the sword of the spirit—with prayer on my tongue: praise for you and petitions for those around me and those I meet.

Feed me today with your daily bread. As the Bread of Life, your food, like manna, will sustain me throughout any trials and hungers. Help me to set my thoughts on things above and to speak only what will help and encourage others. Keep me from putting my foot in my mouth, and help me guard the affections of my heart today, Lord. Make whatever work I do be marked with excellence rather than perfectionism, as I seek not to make a name, but to make a difference. Help me to treat each person I encounter as you would, with respect and love, forgiving others and asking for forgiveness myself when needed.

As I start this day, help me remember that I belong to you, and my desire is to act accordingly. Keep my feet from stumbling and my mind from wandering into distractions that could steal precious time and energy from the most important things you have designed for me. I’m proud to be your child, Lord. And I’m so grateful that you died for me—rising again on your own new morning—so that every day could be filled with the wonder of your love, the freedom of your Spirit, and the joy of knowing you.

I know earthly life is short and fleeting, Lord. But I want to live today as if it were the first or the last day of my life, giving thanks for every good and perfect gift you choose to give. Today, and every day, I want to live my life for you, Jesus. In your precious name, Amen.
– Rebecca Barlow Jordan

A Prayer for Discernment and Wisdom When You Need God’s Direction

Lord, thank You for the people You have divinely placed in my life who speak holy truth, love and words of wisdom. Give me a heart of discernment to know when You are using someone to speak instruction into my heart and my circumstances, and give me the strength and courage to follow through with that advice, even when it’s hard. Fill me with peace in knowing that even if I take a wrong turn, Your purpose will prevail. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
– Tracie Miles

This Beautiful Version of Psalm 23 Had Me in Tears from biblestudytools on GodTube.

Bible Verses about God’s Guidance

Psalm 25:4-5 – “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Psalm 16:7-8 – “I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Psalm 32:8-9 – “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”

John 16:13 – “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

What decisions and situations are you praying for guidance over? Join in our large praying community in the comments below and recieve encouragement! 

prayer for discernment

This article is part of our larger Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can’t find the words to pray.

Prayer for Healing

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