Istikhara means seeking goodness. Istikhara prayer is a special prayer for asking Allah for guidance when making a decision. In addition to the prayer, it is important to research the issue in question and to ask trustworthy people for their advice.
Istikhara prayer is easy to do and can be performed at any time of the day. You simply pray two voluntary rakat and say the istikhara dua at the end before doing tasleem (saying salams to the right and left). Bear in mind that in circumstances where it is not possible to pray and you need guidance urgently, you can just say the dua, for example while travelling, or if a woman is menstruating, but it is better to pray two rakats in accordance with the sunnah, as Jabir bin 'Abdullah reported that: the Prophet (SAWS) used to teach us the way of doing Istikhara, in all matters as he taught us the surahs of the Quran. He said, If anyone of you thinks of doing any action, he should offer a two Rakat prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (the dua of istikhara):
Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi ilmik wa astaqdiruka biqudratik wa as’aluka min fadlikal-adhim, fa innaka taqdiru wala aqdiru wa ta’lamu wala a’lamu wa anta allamul ghuyub. Allahumma in kunta ta’lamu anna ‘hadhal amra’ khayrun li fi dini wa ma-ashi wa aqibati amri faqdir-hu li wa yassir-hu li thumma barik li fih; wa in kunta ta’lamu anna ‘hadhal amra’ sharrun li fi dini wa ma-ashi wa aqibati amri fasrifhu anni wasrifni anhu, waqdir liyal-khayra haythu kana, thumma ardini bih.
Allah, verily I seek the best from You, by Your knowledge, and I seek ability from You by Your power, and I ask You from Your immense bounty. For indeed You have power, and I have none; You have knowledge and I know not; You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allah, if You know that this matter is good for me with regard to my religion, my livelihood and the end of my affair then decree it for me, facilitate it for me, and grant me blessing in it. And if You know that this matter is not good for me with regard to my religion, my livelihood and the end of my affair then turn it away from me and me from it; and decree for me better than it, wherever it may be, and make me content with it.”
Bear in mind that you may not necessarily see a dream or anything very obvious, but Allah will make the situation easy if it is meant to be, and so we should put our trust in Him. Moreover, if the thing is bad for us, Allah will take it away inshaAllah, and we should be pleased by trusting that is what’s best for us, even if we cannot see the blessing straight away. If you are not an Arabic speaker, it is useful to read the dua in your own language afterwards, as that reinforces the points about guidance, turning it away and being content, which helps us to be satisfied whatever the outcome.