An essential part of the human experience is desire. We all desire. As humans, we desire love, security, comfort, joy, all good things. Desire is so powerful and such an integrated part of our being, that when we don’t get what we desire, it often leads to anger and depression. Because unfulfilled desire leads to many problems, desire often becomes the enemy. For example, Buddhism teaches that desire is the source of our suffering, so in order to eliminate suffering, we must eliminate desire. The reality, however, is that the effort to eliminate desire is in and of itself a desire. Therefore, I am left to believe that desire is not a bad thing, rather it is a beautifully violent force that must be tamed. Desire is savage. Desire can cause the broke kid in the slums of India to become a successful business tycoon. In the same way when a desire is unmet, it may lead to horrendous actions. I would argue that numbing yourselves to your desires doesn’t free you, rather it kills your humanity. Desire is what fuels us as a species and desire is what leaves tomorrow looking better than it looked yesterday.
The past three years I have seen what I would reluctantly call a “formula” within scripture. God actually speaks about our desires quite a bit. The Church at times teaches us to stop wanting what we want, but to want what God wants. This is a very noble truth. However, a problem occurs when we teach it as law and neglect the relationship factor of the truth. Without an understanding of the relationship necessary for this truth, then we will grow to hate what we think God wants and we will feel shameful for what we do want. Thus, we end up in this indifferent state of our desires, never fully committing to any desire within us.
So what must be done? Scripture constantly points us to one simple solution: delight in God. Here are a few of my favorite “God will give you what you want” verses…
Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:16 “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
John 16:23-24 “Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name…Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”
These verses might surprise you. They surprise me. Quite honestly, as I write this, these verses make me feel deeply uncomfortable. I, and I think so many of us, have been programmed to believe God doesn’t really care about our desires or well being. Our idea of God is often that he only wants us to get to Heaven when we die and hopefully bring others with us. Now these promises carry a whole lot of responsibility. It takes a great deal of wisdom to navigate the desires of our heart. That is why it is so important to have an intimate relationship with God. If we aren’t spending time praying, meditating, abiding with God, then our desires will continue to be shaped by our selfishness. But when we are truly delighting in God, then our desires morph into the desires of our Creator. Then and only then, can He trust our intentions with the blessings that this life has to offer. It is all about Him and this life of surrender is what fulfills the deepest desires of the human heart.
So here’s what I see as the biblical formula:
Now to be clear, I really don’t believe in speaking about getting what you want from God in terms of formulas. The only reason I am speaking of this in this manner is because I believe it highly promotes the necessity of pursuing a relationship with Christ. This to me is the most virtuous lifestyle possible and I pray we all would encounter the love of God and allow it to transform us so much that we transform the world with the desires of our hearts.