Debbie Salter Goodwin
Praying for Discernment
How do you decide what is best?
Flip a coin? Make a pro and con list? By what “feels” best? Pray about it?
Of course we know the “right” answer is to pray about it. But I have listened to many people who thought they were letting prayer direct them when they were only praying their wants until they convinced themselves why they could have them. That’s not prayer.
In my favorite letter from Paul to his beloved Philippians, I found the prayer that always helps me when best direction confuses me with too many choices.
This is my prayer: that . . .. love may abound more and more
in knowledge and depth of insight
so that [I] may be able to discern what is best.
It starts by making sure that my love for God is growing sure and strong. I must want His best even when it conflicts with what I want. That hunger comes from a love that is rooted in the knowledge of the character of God: His all-goodness, all-compassion, all-knowledge, and unfailing love, all directed to me. Even a want that tantalizes me with some long-held dream pales when I think about what He might want for me, and I don’t want to lose my chance to find it.
So I pray for more knowledge of His love that loves me. I ask for deeper insight into the unfathomable depth and completeness of His love. If I don’t believe in that love, I will question His best.
Out of the rooted, deepening understanding of the truest and fullest love I could ever know, I ask God to grow my ability to discern. I ask Him to protect me from grabbing the first pleasing thing that I think “might” help, fulfill, or bring me joy. I ask Him to use His knowledge about things I can’t know to direct my thoughts about pro’s and con’s, about better and best. I don’t throw out logic or reality. I just want it saturated with what God knows.
Sometimes I live with this prayer for a day. Sometimes I live with this prayer for weeks or months. I believe with all my heart that God will not withhold His best direction when I ask for it. Waiting is growing time, too.
Do you see how this prayer becomes an open communication? I don’t just compartmentalize it to a prayer time. I carry it my heart as I move through my day. When I do, God opens the eyes of my heart to see His best choice take form, begin its enticing dance, woo me into wanting it before I even realize that it is exactly what God wants for me.
Is there some issue you grapple with knowing what is best? Try praying this prayer. Be sure to start with love part. You’ll never be able to recognize God’s best without trusting His complete love for you.
May I pray this prayer for you as you pray it for me?\
And this is my prayer
That your love may abound more and more
In knowledge and depth of insight,
So that you may be able to discern
What is best.
Praying for Discernment Prayer Prompts for the Week____________________
Wednesday: Do you have confidence in the unfailing love God has for you?
Make it your prayer to know it better.
Thursday: How does God's unfailing love bring a confidence you cannot
generate? Pray for that confidence.
Friday: Where do you substitute what you see with your
eyes for what God wants you to see with your heart? Pray for deeper in-sight.
Saturday: What issue or choice do you need God’s best for? Pray for
discernment before you think through options.
Sunday: Sabbath is your opportunity to find sacred space to hear what God
knows you need the most. Don’t let anything get in the way of that interchange.
Monday: Personalize this prayer to incorporate what you are learning about
it. Let it rest in your heart to keep you open to anything God directs you to see or understand.
Tuesday: Remember where you started as you prayed this prayer. What
have you learned? Celebrate that growth.