When we speak of discernment we are speaking about the understanding, deciphering of and the knowing of what the Lord is saying to us. The discerning spirit, is a spirit that knows when the Lord is speaking, moving or prompting.
Let me set a scene for us: You just got off the phone with a friend and you "get a feeling" that tells you they are not okay. Your mind is filled with two thoughts such as: "I think he/she is having a tough day and needs to feel loved" or "I just talked to him/her and they said they are okay and there is nothing for me to worry about". In this moment you have two choices, either act on the first thought and find where they are and make them feel loved or act on the second thought and continue about your day and hear from them whenever you do. In this scene, discernment would be taking a minute to ask God what you should do. I usually pray a short prayer and before ending the prayer I wait in silence for the Lord to answer, "God, my friend sounds like they are okay but I feel they are not, what should I do? (In this space I wait to hear from the Lord) then whatever I feel like I heard, I act on.
Let me set another scene: You are talking with a friend and they say they are saying they have a decision to make and they are unsure of what to do. You and your friend decide to pray about it and see what the Lord has to say. During your prayer time, you ask the Lord what they should do and sit in silence waiting for a response, you hear one thing then you hear another. You decide the first thing sounds more like Jesus than the second, so you tell her that.
In these cases, we discernment. The knowing of God's voice over our own and the enemy's. Discernment is important in our walk with Christ. The only way to improve it is to practice listening for God's voice. That means spending more time in prayer, reading our bibles and opening our ears to hear as we are going about our days. The last thing is hard, no doubt, but the more we practice, the better we are at knowing God's voice. Praying for discernment is also wise, it shows God we have a desire to know His voice distinctively and it also shows we are serious about living for the Lord. My challenge for us is to ask the Lord in prayer to increase our discernment and that we would spend more time in prayer listening for His voice, asking that our ears would be open so we can hear Him throughout the day and reading our bibles more.
I will leave us with a prayer,
God, I want to thank You for speaking to me, even when I do not know it is You and when I say I cannot hear You. I pray that my ears would be open to hearing You as I am going about the day, that my spirit would long to be with Your spirit in prayer and that I would hear Your voice as I read and study Your word. I ask now that You would increase my discernment, that I would not second guess Your voice and what You have said to me. That in times of confusion I would hear You louder than I hear myself or those around me. Would You see my heart and acknowledge my desire?
I pray and ask all of these things in Jesus' name,