Wrestling with God in Prayer for Discernment Simply Scripture

Wrestling With God in Prayer for Discernment

By Stacey Pardoe

Dawn breaks with a lilac mist as I sit beside the window to watch the world awaken. I’m awake early today—before the patter of little feet and the requests for cartoons.

I’m here to sort through a set of confusing circumstances and wrestle with God in prayer for discernment.

Not long ago, I took a leap of faith and said yes to a new ministry opportunity. I invested hundreds of hours, poured my heart into the ministry, and fully believed it was God-birthed and Spirit-led.

Much to my surprise, the journey didn’t unfold the way I planned—not by a long shot. Instead of ministering to the multitudes, everything fell apart. The door of opportunity slammed shut in my face, and I felt like I’d been punched in the ribs.

As I reflect on the loss, I’d love a glimpse into God’s purpose for this heartbreaking change of plans. 

More than anything else, I’d like to know what He wants me to do next.

I’m wrestling with God and making requests for a five-year plan when a familiar verse comes to mind:

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 ESV).

Wrestling With God in prayer for discernment simply scripture

Wrestling With God in Prayer for Discernment

As I meditate on the verse, a truth comes to mind:

Discernment is primarily about knowing God more intimately. Determining His will is secondary.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve spent much of my life seeking to discern God’s will while overlooking His core desire for a closer relationship with me.

Perhaps you can relate. You want to know whether to choose option A or option B, and you’d love a clear sense of direction.

Maybe you want to know which house to buy, which guy to date, or which job to choose. You wrestle with God in prayer for discernment, and you’re a bit disappointed when He doesn’t send a shooting star or dampen a fleece on the lawn.

As I sit with these thoughts in the morning light, God uses the words of Philippians 3:8 to gently remind me that He wants me to know Him more intimately, fall more deeply in love with Him, and learn to walk with Him in the same way I might walk with a close friend—stride-for-stride.

From this intimate relationship, He will direct my paths. Direction will flow from the relationship.

Have you been wrestling in prayer for discernment as you seek to know God’s will?

I believe God is pleased when we turn to Him for guidance. However, let’s not forget to pursue the relationship before we pursue the roadmaps for our lives. Discernment begins with pursuing a closer relationship with God.

How to Find the Right Path for Your Life

Proverbs 3:6 offers the following directive about following God:

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (ESV).

For years, I had the wrong image of what it means to “acknowledge” God. I assumed that acknowledging God looked like glancing in his direction before making decisions. I would come up with a plan, ask God to bless it, and if no lightning bolts fell from the sky, I’d jump in with both feet.

After years of misunderstanding this verse, God led me to study the word “acknowledge” in the original language.

In Hebrew, the word used for “acknowledge” is “yada.” Yada denotes knowing someone through experience. Yada is much more than a quick glance.

It is the kind of knowing that comes from doing nitty-gritty life together. It’s the kind of knowing that comes when you’ve wept together over gravesites, held each other in hospital rooms, and wept tears of joy and sorrow together.

Friend, do you see the connection between yada (knowing God through experience) and discernment?

God wants us to know Him through experience and from this posture of knowing Him, He will direct our paths. We won’t have to bang our heads against walls to find direction for our lives. God will make our paths plain and clear because we will be living from a place of intimacy with Him.

Discernment Is About a Person, Not a Plan

I ponder these truths as I gaze out the window and set aside my desire for a five-year plan.

“Lord, I don’t understand what You’re doing, but I know You are here with me. I trust that You closed this door for my good and Your glory. I will press close to You and trust You to guide me along each step of this journey,” I pray.

Like me, you might not understand what God is doing as you wrestle with Him for discernment.

Let me offer a gentle word of encouragement today: Seek a closer relationship with Him—seek to know Him more deeply through experience—and He will make the way plain and broad for you.

Let’s join together in lifting this prayer to Him:

A Prayer for Discernment

“Lord God, thank you that when we seek to know You, You make our paths straight and clear. Forgive us for the times when we seek Your plans more fervently than we seek Your face. We ask You to show us how to connect with You and go deeper in intimacy. Help us to live from the overflow of Your love and from the glory of thriving relationships with You. Amen.”

5 Bible Verses on Wrestling With God in Prayer For Discernment

  • Philippians 3:8: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
  • Proverbs 3:6: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (ESV).”
  • Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
  • Philippians 1:9-10: “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,”
  • Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Meet the author

Stacey Pardoe

Stacey Pardoe is passionate about equipping others to live purpose-filled, empowered lives. She lives in western Pennsylvania, where she is a writer, mother, mentor, and teacher with a master’s degree in education. A lover of forests and open skies, she enjoys hiking, camping, jogging, and chasing adventure with her three young children and her husband Darrell. Above all else, the love of Christ has forever captured her heart, and she is devoted to helping others encounter his relentless love. She writes weekly at staceypardoe.com

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