prayers for discernment

Praying for Discernment: 3 Prayers for Discernment in Life’s Trials

Having discernment is like having an internal guide. Just as an instruction manual can help you assemble a piece of furniture, an owner’s manual is beneficial for troubleshooting something wrong with your vehicle.

Having discernment helps you to make wise decisions, know who or what to trust, and who to allow to speak wisdom into your life. To best parent your child or effectively manage relationships with friends, family, or coworkers, you can rely on God’s discernment to lead with integrity and recognize red flags.

In your faith journey, developing discernment is essential to maturing in faith. By praying for discernment, you can grow in wisdom to prepare you to face life’s trials and endure challenging circumstances.

praying for discernment

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What does “discernment” mean in the Bible?

Discernment is one of those big “church” words that many people use, but often we don’t know what it means. In the secular world, it means to distinguish as different or distinct. In the Christian faith, discernment is wisdom from God given to you by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit acting as your guide when making decisions that can impact our lives or the lives of those around us.

Discernment is from God

In the Bible, King Solomon prayed for wisdom, received wisdom from God, and wrote about it in the book of Proverbs. When Solomon, a man who loved the LORD, became king, God said to him in a dream, “Ask what I shall give you” (1 Kings 3:5 ESV).

Solomon responded, “Give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (1 Kings 3:9 ESV)

Solomon could have asked for anything from God, but because he loved and worshiped Him, he asked for something only God could give: discernment.

“It pleased the Lord that Solomon asked this.”

1 Kings 3:10 ESV

Solomon walked in the ways of his father, King David. He honored God in his decisions and his life. He wanted to lead his kingdom with wisdom and discernment. Solomon knew the only one who could help him lead God’s people of Israel was God. Solomon understood the assignment before him and knew that discernment was the only way to be a fair and effective king.

God has given each of us a calling. In order to do this effectively, whether at work or in our homes, we must lead using wisdom. Some days, the tasks before us seem daunting. Balancing work and home life is no easy venture. It may feel as heavy as ruling a kingdom. Asking God for discernment and wisdom will help us live out our calling and be effective for Him in the workplace and at home.

Looking for more Guided prayers and resources to help you transform your prayer life? Check out all of our prayer resources for tips, guides, and printables to help you deepen your prayer life!

Discernment is a spiritual gift

All believers can pray for discernment, just as Solomon did, but some levels of discernment are considered a spiritual gift. In 1 Corinthians 12:10 in the Amplified Bible, the Apostle Paul writes regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit, “and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults]…” 

This spiritual gift has to do with discerning spirits within those given the ability by the Holy Spirit to discern what is God’s Truth in His Word and what is deceptive or goes against God’s Word. Spiritual gifts are given to believers to strengthen the body of Christ. Not every believer is given these specific spiritual gifts.  

As we mature as followers of Christ, we should exhibit growth in many areas, especially that of discernment. Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV states, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.

You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Using God’s wisdom to make wise decisions and discern good from evil takes spiritual growth and maturity.      

Discernment is necessary as a believer, parent, and working mother.

In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon writes to his son. He is teaching his son the value of wisdom, which can be gained only by God. In Chapter 2, Solomon summarizes what life looks like using God’s wisdom and discernment. You will understand righteousness, justice, equity, and every good path.

Discretion will watch over you and guard you. You will be delivered from evil and darkness and from devious ways and crooked paths. With wisdom, you will walk in goodness and integrity.

In the workplace, whether working from home or in an office, having discernment prepares you for necessary decisions for your profession. Having God’s wisdom on your side helps you choose God’s will over your own in disagreements or relationships and know the righteous path to take when faced with challenges.

As a parent, your children look to you for guidance and security. Using the Holy Spirit for discernment can lead you to handle discipline effectively and fairly, make wise financial decisions for your family, and help your children grow in their faith and discernment.

A parent who uses God’s wisdom demonstrates to her children that we are not lost in this world without a guide or understanding. The Holy Spirit is there to fill us with wisdom to lead moment by moment in everyday decisions and challenging circumstances.

scriptures to pray

What does it mean to pray for discernment?

Just like King Solomon prayed for and was given discernment in 1 Kings 3:9-11, the Apostle Paul prayed for the church in Philippi to receive discernment.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”.

Philippians 1:9-11

Paul knew the challenges the early church faced and prayed for them to have the discernment to be able to recognize persecution and false teaching.

Queen Esther needed discernment, as she was called by God to save her people from destruction. She knew she must enter the king’s court uninvited to speak with him. Going before the king could result in her death.

If she was allowed to speak with him, she would need discernment to choose the right words to say so that he would sincerely listen to her plea to save her people, who were living in exile in his kingdom. She fasted for three days and told all the Jews in Susa to do the same. This fast meant that they would also be praying for discernment. 

What are some prayers for discernment?

While our circumstances may be different than the church in Philippi and Queen Esther, the enemy is always looking for ways to draw us away from God’s wisdom and turn us toward fear or evil.   

Solomon’s prayer for discernment in 1 Kings 3:6-9 can become your prayer as you lead in your home and at work.

PRAYER FOR DISCERNMENT AT HOME: “Father God, thank you for entrusting me with the opportunity to lead my family and serve in my workplace. I want to make decisions that honor you. Give me the understanding to help guide my family in their lives, helping them discern between good and evil. Help me make decisions for my family that honor you and the will you have for our lives. Amen.”  

Paul’s message to the church in Philippi in Philippians 1:9-11 can also be your prayer as you mature in your faith.

PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT: “Heavenly Father, thank you for your great love for me and for wanting me to grow in my faith to maturity. Give me love that overflows onto everyone around me. Give discernment in my trials so I can recognize and test what is excellent and good in my life so that I can be pure and blameless before you. Amen.”

 Esther’s preparation and prayer for wisdom in Esther 4:16 can also be your prayer when you face an enemy attack. Her circumstances were dire, so she knew fasting would allow her to hear God’s wisdom. Fasting does not have to be from food; it can be from social media or anything else that allows you to focus and be in the presence of the LORD. (Fasting from food should be done with careful guidance.)

PRAYER FOR DISCERNMENT IN TRIALS: LORD God, thank you for your presence in my life and this situation. I want to say the right words and choose the right path. Fill me with your wisdom and discernment to stand against the attacks of the enemy, lay aside fear, and walk in obedience.”

Praying for Discernment

Discernment is the ability to see what is true and right, especially in difficult situations. It is a spiritual gift that allows us to hear God’s voice clearly over the other voices we may be hearing. We can pray for discernment when we need wisdom for decisions we are facing. As you lead your family or work in difficult circumstances, pray for discernment and ask God to give you wisdom and understanding.

Written by: Leah Lively

Leah Lively was born and raised in Virginia. As a mom of four, she has waded through the waters of parenting a child with chronic physical and mental health issues. Leah is passionate about helping others focus on God while walking through the chaos of life. Leah writes to encourage others and grow in their faith. She writes to let other parents know they are not alone. She shares her writing on her blog and social media pages and has also published four Bible studies. In her spare time, Leah enjoys listening to podcasts, hanging out with her kids, settling down with a good book and a cup of coffee, or spending time with friends.

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