Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
Sometimes I ask God for stuff when I know He’s already said it’s not His will. I hold tightly to things that God clearly wants me to let go of; this can include objects, people, actions, decisions, or whatever else I believe is best. These kinds of prayers often stem from selfishness, self pity, anger, etc.
For a few weeks I struggled with one of these things; I prayed to God for certain things to happen even though I knew it was not a productive prayer. I knew this because it didn’t stem from a place of wanting God’s will to be done; I just wanted my own satisfaction that things were right and “fair” in my own little world. Even though I was aware of this, I felt like I couldn’t let it go.
After sharing this with my friend, she encouraged me to ask God to change the desires of my heart.
I don’t know if that hits you like it hit me. But like actually asking God to change what we desire? Like that’s pretty amazing. It BLEW my mind. I knew it in the back of my head, but hadn’t really heard it until then. So many of my prayers are focused on God fulfilling what I want. I create my desires and He fulfills them…it feels gross to type that out–to admit that I often view God as a genie who is going to grant my every wish.
After asking God to actually shift what I desired, so many great changes resulted (not that I’ve got a perfect relationship with God at all).
- Letting go of that desire actually became so much simpler. I still do struggle with at times (sometimes a lot), when I’m not asking God to consistently help me, but it feels more and more possible each day to let it go. I’m not trying to change my heart all by myself, God is doing it with me (He’s doing most of the work tbh). I know I’m not in the struggle alone.
- It has improved my prayer life. Instead of focusing on what I want, I can focus more on what God wants to do in me. So cheesy, but actually so true.
- I hold less tightly to my life plans. Maybe that sounds kind of awful, but in reality, it’s actually really freeing. In perfect Sarah-land, I’m supposed to have straight A’s, lose 1.5 pounds each week, marry a soccer player at 27, be preparing for optometry school somewhere on the East coast in a big city, have a perfect social and academic calendar, etc., etc. Almost none of those things are happening according to the formula I had in my head, but God is giving me the capability to look outside of my plan. I’m actually learning to take life day by day. If you know me personally, you know that’s a big leap for me. I still do hold tightly to my plans, but they seem less and less important the more I surrender to God.
- God didn’t automatically give me new desires. He didn’t give me a list that said I’m going to have straight B’s, lose 1 pound per week, marry a baseball player at 25 (also I hate baseball), live in California, and all that. Instead my desire is just desiring what God wants. To be close to Him, to know Him, and live in His presence.
Finally, this is kind of side note, but for the the majority of my life I actually thought that Psalm 37:4 meant that if you were close to God, He would give you what you want. While I do believe that God does bless His followers and often fulfills our requests, that old mindset was pretty toxic. I assumed that if God wasn’t blessing me it automatically meant that I wasn’t “close enough” to Him. I’m not denouncing that God may punish us when we step out of will, but setbacks don’t always mean that your relationship with God isn’t good enough. When I did have that mindset, I convinced myself to try and figure out God and somehow become worthy enough so I could get what I wanted. I sincerely meant well, but it ultimately led me to feel like I needed to jump through the right hoops in order to make God who I wanted Him to be; this just harbored resentment in my heart against Him that took a long time to untangle. Honestly, I could write a whole separate blog on this topic, but wanted to include it here.
Psalm 37:4 doesn’t necessarily mean that earthly success reflects spiritual success.
Now I read this verse as saying that a vibrant relationship with God completely changes your heart–instead of just desiring God’s blessings, we desire God.