Istikhara prayer (seeking a choice) and its results
I received a number of marriage proposals and I want to seek the guidance of Allah in choosing the best from among them. How do I make the istikhara prayer and how do I recognize its results?
Muslims are required to seek guidance from Allah especially in crucial matters such as marriage. The Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] used to offer istikhara and teach his Companions how to perform it. Jaber ibn 'Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] said: "If any of you intends to undertake a matter he should offer a voluntary two rak'a prayer and say, ‘O Allah! I seek Your guidance from Your knowledge and strength by Your might and I ask for Your great blessings for indeed You are able and I am not; You know and I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allah! If You know that this matter is good for me in my religion, life, and the Hereafter (or say, 'if it is better for my present and later needs) then decree it for me, facilitate it and bless me with it. And if You know that this matter is harmful to me in my religion, life and Hereafter (or say, 'if it is worse for my present and later needs), then keep it away from me and keep me away from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with it.' Then the Prophet said: 'And then mention your need" [Bukhari].
Transliteration of the supplication:
Allahumma inni astakheeroka bi ilmik. Wa'astaq-diroka biqodratik. Wa'as'aloka min fadlikal-adhim. Fa'innaka taqdiru wala aqdir. Wat'a lamo wala-'a lam. Wa'anta-'allamul ghuyoob.
Allahumma in kunta ta lamu anna (hathal-amra*) khayul-lee fi deenee wama ashi wa ajila amri wa'ajilah, faqdorho lee, wayassirho lee, thomma-barik lee fih. Wa'in konta ta lamo anna (hathal-amra*) sharrul-lee fi deenee. Wama ashi. Wa ajila amri. Wa'ajilaho. Fasrifho annee. Wasrifnee anh. Waqdur leyal-khayr haytho kan. Thomma ardini bih."
This hadith illustrates the manner of performing istikhara by offering a two rak'a voluntary prayer (one is not to offer it during the obligatory prayers) in times other than those forbidden for praying with the intention of seeking guidance from Allah.
The meaning of "to mention his need" is to say: "O Allah! if you know that my marriage from so-and-so is good for me in my religion…and if you know that marrying him is bad for me…" What you must do is either choose the person you think is most suitable for you and then offer the istikhara prayer or perform a [separate] prayer for each of your suitors if you cannot choose between them.
Istikhara prayer has no manifest results; rather, it is entrusting the matter to Allah Almighty. If it is good Allah will facilitate it, otherwise He will keep it away from you, and compensate you with what is better and make you satisfied with it.
The above answers the question
Allah the Almighty knows best.