Scripture tells of God guiding His people through all kinds of circumstances. He went ahead of Israel through the wilderness, leading them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (exod. 13:21). He sent angels to lead Lot and his family out of Sodom (gen. 19:16) and Peter out of prison (acts 12:7). Both David and Isaiah describe God affectionately as a Shepherd (psalm 23; isaiah 40:11), and Micah prophesied about Jesus, “he will stand to lead his flock with the LORD’s strength” (micah 5:4). The Bible’s message is comforting and clear: Our heavenly Father cares deeply about the intimate details of our lives.
Yet with all of the instances of God leading in Scripture, the prayers for guidance and direction are relatively few. Haddon Robinson writes, “It’s surprising to note that nowhere in the Old Testament, the teachings of Jesus, or the New Testament epistles do we see any description of a step-by-step process by which we can determine God’s will.” There’s a reason for this.
God’s guidance stems from our relationship with Him. Our Shepherd wants to feed us, carry us in his arms, hold us close to his heart, and gently lead us (isaiah 40:11). We are to “pray continually” (1 thess. 5:17 niv) because it’s impossible to discern God’s leading in our lives without prayer. As with prayers about everyday needs, the Bible’s prayers for guidance and direction are relational prayers. Relational prayer doesn’t just seek God’s will—it seeks His face as well. Relational prayer puts us in a place where the Lord can help us discover His leading and respond with deeper obedience and love. God reminded His people through Isaiah, “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength” (isaiah 30:15). Fresh strength flows into us as we pray and fast and wait before Him in His Word.
The temptation we often face is to run our own lives and then ask God to bless us. What God wants from us is very different. Oswald Chambers observes, “If we could see the floor of God’s immediate presence, we would find it strewn with the ‘toys’ of God’s children who have said, ‘This is broken, I can’t play with it anymore, please give me another present.’ Only one in a thousand sits down in the midst of it all and says ‘I will watch my Father mend this.’ ”
David prayed, “O Lord, I give my life to you . . . . Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you” (psalm 25:1, 4-5, emphasis added). The Bible’s prayers for guidance and direction all have dependence as their starting point. In every instance God matters more than what is asked, even though the request may be urgent.
Our Shepherd wants us near Him, especially when we don’t know which road to take. These are prayers to help us draw close.
Show me the right path.
O Lord, I give my life to you. No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others. Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. —psalm 25:1, 3-5
Send your light to guide me.
Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God! —psalm 43:3-4
Guide my steps by your Word.
Your laws are wonderful. No wonder I obey them! The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands. Come and show me your mercy, as you do for all who love your name. Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil. Ransom me from the oppression of evil people; then I can obey your commandments. Look upon me with love; teach me your decrees. Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because people disobey your instructions. —psalm 119:129-136
Show me your presence, Lord.
Show me your glorious presence. —from exodus 33:18
Show me how to have more faith.
Show me how to increase my faith. —from luke 17:5*
What should I do?
What should I do, Lord? —from acts 22:10