7 Effective Prayers for Discerning God’s Will

Frustration over not knowing God’s will causes many Christians to lose sleep! Certainly, some things are clear in the Bible. We know that it is God’s will for us to be conformed to the image of His Son. We know we are to put off the old self and put on the new self. We know we must walk by the Spirit so we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

But what if we want to know God’s will about deciding on a career, a location for schooling, whether we should have more children, what we should wear, etc.? We might wish God would speak to us audibly or even write His will on a wall in our home?

Remember, God always has a sovereign purpose even if His will is making us wait for a season, watch for clues, or simply worship Him in faith until the answer is clear—that is, if He chooses to reveal His will this side of eternity.

Here are seven effective prayers we might pray as we are seeking God’s will for our lives:

1. The Priority Prayer

Author Jon Bloom says we don’t need to know God’s will if we are confident in God’s Word. That might seem simplistic when we’re desperate for answers; but we first must address our “fundamental need” to trust Him, Bloom says, over our finite understanding of our circumstances. The more we know God through His Word, the easier it will be to trust His promises and rest in His sovereignty when we don’t know which way to turn. 

The process of seeking the Lord is as important as any answer He might supply. Paul prayed God would give the Colossians knowledge of His will while at the same time helping them grow in their knowledge of Him.

Our priority prayer must be to seek God (Matthew 6:33Jeremiah 29:13) and know His revelation about Himself so we will sense when our desires do not align with His.

Father God, as much as I want to know Your will for my life and for You to guide my choices, I want to know You more than anything. That is my highest priority and goal. You promise that I will find You when I seek you with all my heart.

If I seek You first, perhaps You will make my options clearer, but regardless, help me long for You and Your righteousness above all else.

Show me how to steep my life in who You are, and trust that you will meet my need for understanding. I want my life to please You, Father.

Thank you for Jesus who makes it possible to come to You with all my questions. Amen.

2. The Surrender Prayer

We may make plans, but God’s sovereign purpose will prevail (Proverbs 19:21). God wants His children to cultivate a strong desire to submit to His will, whatever it may be. Prov. 3:6 tells us to submit to the Lord, and He will show us the straight path—the path we need to take. Sometimes our own desires get in the way of seeing that path clearly.

Rachel-Claire Cockrell wisely prays God will throw up a “brick wall”—an obstacle she can’t get past—if her desires blind her to God’s will. 

The word “surrender” reminds us there is a battle raging for our will. Surrendering means we set aside our own desires and plans to embrace His—plans that are for good, not evil—and we recognize the authority of Jesus (Matthew 28:18).

There is no half-way surrender. Full surrender allows the Holy Spirit to guide us and inform our decisions.

Lord, so often I say I want to do Your will, but then I stubbornly cling to my own plans—and those plans sometimes run contrary to Your purposes in my life and ministry. There is a battle going on, and I must decide whether I will choose to surrender to You or follow my own inclinations.

Lord, conquer my heart so You can bless and lead me. As I surrender to You, fill me with the Holy Spirit so He can guide and teach me more about Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

3. The Sensitivity Prayer

Jesus taught His disciples, “My sheep listen to my voice….” Then, after He ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit, and every Christ-follower’s desire should be to listen to the Spirit of God (John 16:13). 

Paul said, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit,” and we walk by the Spirit in awareness and sensitivity. We learn what grieves Him and we tune in to how He moves and leads. We can be glad and grateful that when we are weak in understanding, we know the Spirit prays for us. His desire is to make us more attuned to the Word of God, which will sanctify us and help us discern God’s will for how to live (John 17:172 Timothy 3:16). God’s Word is truly a “light” on our path.

Heavenly Father, so many voices clamor for my attention. It’s easy to be distracted. I want to be more sensitive to Your voice so I can sense Your will.

Help me tune in to the Spirit’s quiet voice. Make me more careful about the voices I allow to speak into my life. Fill my thoughts and light my path with Your truth.

Make me more aware of the subtle leadings of the Spirit that I might miss if I’m too preoccupied with the things of this world. Quiet my heart, Father, so I can hear Your words of love as I wait for direction. Amen.

4. The Perspective Prayer

Proverbs 3:5 says we should not try to figure out everything on our own, but instead, we should seek the Lord for direction. God’s ways and thoughts are not like our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

So we don’t want to be foolish; we want to understand what God’s will is. As we properly fear and reverence Him, He will give us the wisdom we need. He will instruct us—teach us His ways and guide us into truth. We can trust Him, because He will make all things work together for our good because we are called according to His purpose.

Another way to seek God’s perspective is to set our thoughts on “things above,” and not on the things of this earth. We need to focus on eternity if we want a clearer view of God’s will. While we can gain perspective as we seek the advice of godly Christians (Proverbs 11:14), the Lord must be our primary counselor (John 16:13Isaiah 9:6Isaiah 28:29).

Dear Lord, sometimes I feel I might never understand Your thoughts and ways. You are so beyond me. You are God and I am not. And yet, You are near to those who fear and trust You. Oh, how I need your matchless wisdom.

Give me Your perspective, Lord. I want to understand Your will. Some things are plainly expressed in Your Word—not complicated at all. But with other things, I struggle.

I need clear direction that only You can give. Please make my path straight and my choices clear. Amen.

5. The Obedience Prayer

God works in our thoughts and lives to desire to do His will and to act in obedience to please Him (Philippians 2:13). Just as Jesus obeyed the will of His Father in heaven—giving us an example—we are also called to obedience.

God does not want us to stumble into sin. Every choice we make should be to glorify Him. God wants us to apply the truth of Scripture to our daily decisions. Our obedience reveals our love for Him.

As we present our bodies as living sacrifices to God—holy and pleasing to Him (Romans 12:1), we position ourselves to cry out for His will. God wants us to be transformed in our thinking so we can, in times of testing, discern what God’s will is—His “good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Father, my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. I say I want you to lead me, but often in the past, when You revealed Your will, I moved forward in half-hearted obedience or in disobedience. I know this did not please You, Father.

Please continue to transform my thinking as I spend time in Your Word and apply its truth to my life. Show me how I can obey You to the praise of Your glory. Give me greater discernment and a stronger desire to commit to Your plans. Make me more like Jesus in obeying You. I pray this in His name. Amen.

6. The Follower Prayer

Jesus commands us to follow Him—no matter the cost (Matthew 10:34-39). Embracing God’s will can be difficult and even scary. Sometimes He allows suffering in our lives to prepare us for a deeper level of obedience and, possibly, expanded ministry.

When we know the Lord’s character, we will understand that His will for us will help us grow, be good for others, and bring Him glory. When we follow Him closely, we show He means everything to us. We don’t want to follow anything else or any other Master besides Him, because He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

There are no “halfway followers” or “part-time sheep.” As the Lord’s sheep, we know He is our  Good Shepherd, and we willingly follow Him (John 10:27), trusting the Holy Spirit to help us. We cannot keep in step with the Lord in our own strength.

Lord of My Life, you know I am an imperfect follower, but I want to do Your will. Sometimes I back away in fear of what You might ask me to do. Other times I’m overwhelmed by the calling. But You are good and kind, and I know You love me. You are my Good Shepherd. Teach me—Your sometimes-wandering lamb—how to follow You more closely so I do not miss your purposes in and through my life. You are my Lord, and I am Your servant. Teach me to follow your direction with gratitude and joy, and to never shrink back from Your holy will. Amen.

7. The Equipping Prayer

As we pray for God’s will, we may have concerns we won’t be “enough.” We may feel we have no skills, unimportant gifting, little strength, insufficient wisdom, etc. The enemy wants to make us despair before we even get the opportunity to discern and obey God’s will!

We can rest in this truth: God will equip us with all we need to accomplish His will and do what is pleasing in His sight (Hebrews 13:21). He uses our spiritual gifts and transforms our experiences into acts of love, service, and ministry—good works He has called us to do.

God’s grace is our sufficiency when He calls us for His purposes!

God of Grace, thank you for supplying all I will ever need to follow and obey You fully as You reveal your wondrous plans. I am relieved I don’t have to trust in my own strengths, but I can instead lean hard into your sufficiency. You will equip me for every good work and provide all I need to accomplish your will.

Your grace is so complete—You call, You provide, and You bless. It’s all about You, Father. I can relax and simply respond in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I’m so grateful for all you provide for me in Christ; and I pray these things in His name. Amen.