I think the hardest prayer I’ve ever prayed – and am still praying, every day – is the one having to do with desires and the will of God. “Lord, I know You will give me the desires of my heart; please change the desires of my heart into Your will.”
I think we get the idea that we should get the desires of our heart from Psalms 37:4, “Delight thine self also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” And it’s true; it’s a promise God gave us. The part that’s a little difficult to remember is the “delight thine self also in the Lord.”
That’s the first step, and we can’t skip it. Delight myself in the Lord… how do I do that? Let’s break it down. According to blueletterbible.org, the word “delight” in this passage, in Hebrew, is ” ‘anag,” meaning “to be happy about, take exquisite delight.” Merriam-Webster defines the verb delight as “to take great pleasure.” So, the first step is to “be happy about/take great pleasure” in the Lord. And… how can I take pleasure in the Lord? He’s all about rules and regs, right? (A little alliteration, anyone? 🙂 ) Actually, no; God, like any caring parent, gives us guidelines to follow in order to have a more fulfilled life. When you were a child, and you followed the rules your parents gave you, and even did a little extra work for them, they were really happy with you, right? And you were happy because they were happy, and because you got special, positive attention from them, and it was a little more likely that you would get the things you wanted. God works in much the same way. If we stick to the guidelines He gives us, and do some work for Him (which is, after all, a “reasonable service”), then He is happy with us and gives us special, positive attention, and maybe… the desires of our hearts?
Okay then. So we need to get our walks with God in the right place before we can see the desires of our hearts. We also need to be doing all we can to make to help our Heavenly Father, by working for the furthering of His kingdom. There are SO many ways we can do this! We can teach Sunday School, sing in the choir, teach Bible studies, help out with the media department, call visitors, do outreach, be mentors to young people, teach Bible verses (yay for Bible Quizzing!), preach, be an usher, be an armor bearer, and so many, many others!
Maybe, then, it is an issue of obedience… when we are obedient to God, and work for His kingdom, we find pleasure in our work and in our relationship with Him. More than that – great pleasure is to be found in God! So, obedience to His Word and His will will help us to “delight” ourselves in Him!
Once we have found delight in our relationship with Jesus, then we get the stuff we wanted before… right? Well, that depends. If the things you wanted before have changed… then no. And they very well could have and probably did change. Think about it; when you align your will to the will of God, you give up the things that aren’t pleasing to Him. Your life no longer reflects your will and your desires, but the will of God and the desires He has for you. It should be an easy prayer, then; after all, don’t we talk about wanting God’s will for our lives? about wanting to turn our lives over to Him anyway? about our desire to have a closer relationship with Him? I find it’s much harder for most people to really and truly surrender everything to Christ, all the time, every day. Sure, a moment or two at the altar; but what about the deepest, most secret part of your heart?
The desires of your heart might be anything from getting married to the person of your dreams, to living in a house in a specific part of town, to having the job of your dreams, or anything else. God may want you to have those things, but in a different way than you are expecting. Or, He might know that the job you feel you want so badly will bring you sorrow. Or the marriage. Or the house. Or anything else. Only He knows your future. The key – the hard part – is to turn your dreams over to God, delight yourself in Him, and allow His will to become your desires.
In essence, then, when we pray that our desires become God’s will, we are actually praying for a closer, deeper walk with Him, and the doing away of our own will and our selfish desires. We take the limits off of God – the ones we placed on Him by thinking that we knew better than He what we needed – and allow Him to do the work in our lives that will bring us the most joy and peace.
I will get there. I have to remember that, just because I don’t see what I think I should see, doesn’t mean it isn’t on its way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will ever get it, either; Paul prayed three times for God to heal the “thorn in his flesh,” but God told him, “No,” three times. Paul stopped praying for that particular need. Who knows but that that “thorn” wasn’t a testimony in and of itself to the people around him? Perhaps what I consider to be a thorn is God’s will for me, and is a testimony just like Paul’s might have been… and, when I delight myself in God, He will help me bear it with grace and find the joy in the thorn, instead of the joy I think I’d have without it.
“Delight thine self also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalms 37:4
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6