Recently I quoted from J. I. Packer's article, The Ministry of the Spirit in Discerning the Will of God in a sermon. The article is well worth the read. Packer's article concludes with these words:
It needs to be said that the ultimate purpose of God for every Christian is character-transformation and growth into the full image of Jesus Christ; and therefore that the Holy Spirit's work of imparting wisdom for the discerning of God's will, case by case, is part of that larger enterprise for which our sanctification is the usual name. What God wants for us is not simply a flow of correct discernments in the choices we make, but that we become discerning persons in ourselves, as Christ was a discerning person before us.
In other words, God wants to make us wise Christians, able to discern God's will, not from inner nudges or promptings, but from the wisdom that God imparts through his Spirit and Word.
I love the GPS in my car. It tells me exactly where to turn, exactly what roads to travel, and exactly when I will arrive. But, my GPS also makes me ignorant. Sometimes when I use my GPS someone will ask what route I traveled, and I will honestly have no idea. By simply following directions (turn right here... turn left there...) I become oblivious to the actual route, the actual roads, the actual way I travel.
The Holy Spirit is not a GPS for Christians (turn right here... take that job... marry that girl...), and to think of it in that way makes for ignorant Christians who are interested in guidance, but who have little use for wisdom. Instead, God has given us his Spirit that we might be sanctified and wise And, if Packer is right, that God intends for us to be discerning people as Christ himself was discerning, then we would do well to remember the Spirit's role in Christ's own life, "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him; the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; the Spirit of counsel and might; the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord" (Is. 11:2).
So, instead of praying for signs, senses, urgings, promptings, open doors, and vague guidance, we should instead pray for "wisdom and understanding... counsel and might... knowledge and the fear of the Lord."