Istikhara means seeking guidance as to what Allah ﷻ knows is the best and most appropriate choice, by means of prayer or supplications that have been narrated. Praying Istikhara is Sunnah in which the Prophet ﷺ prescribed for us.
The reason why Istikhara is prescribed is that it is submission to the command of Allah ﷻ and a practical demonstration that one has no power and no strength of ones’ own. It means turning to Allah and seeking to combine the goodness of this world and of the Hereafter.
In what circumstances should one pray istikhara?:
The 4 Madhabs are in agreement that Istikhara is prescribed in cases where a person does not know the right decision to make. Consulting others before praying Istikhara:
Imām al-Nawawī said;
"It is recommended, before praying Istikhara, to consult someone whom you knows is sincere, caring and has experience, and who is trustworthy with regard to his religious commitment and knowledge."
How to pray Istikhara:
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ described to us how we should do Istikhara in a lengthy ahadīth by Jābir Ibn ‘Abdullah رضي الله عنه narrated in Bukhārī – 6841: