“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Ps. 37:4).
The Lord says in Psalms 37:4 that He “will give you the desires of your heart.” Notice this has a two-fold understanding. First, it means that God will fulfill, or bring to pass, those desires resident in your heart. Second, it also means if you are delighting yourself in Him, He actually deposits into your heart right desires.
Desire Is God’s Primary Avenue to Reveal His Will
These desires are the primary avenue God uses to reveal His will for your life. And, yet, desire has been undervalued and overlooked. We are more familiar with and rely on what we refer to as the “peace of God” or the “inward witness.”
Because we haven’t recognized “desire” as being God’s primary avenue in which He directs us, we have a tendency to view our desires as selfish or self-serving. I myself have done this on many occasions, and God has chastened me for it. There has been times when I had a strong desire to do something, but I talked myself out of responding to that desire because I couldn’t justify it in terms of ministry or time constraints.
I’ll give you an example. I don’t like to travel. I don’t have a desire to go anywhere, especially overseas. There was a prayer ministry conference that was to be held in Israel and Lynne was one of the scheduled speakers. Coincidentally, I had to do some church business in Israel at the same time, so I made plans to go to the conference with Lynne. A month before the conference, the church business I had in Israel fell through and so I canceled my trip. When I canceled my plans to go to Israel, I suddenly realized I still had a desire to go even though I no longer had a reason for going. That’s never happened to me before. I realized this desire to go to Israel was from God.
All my life, I’ve measured whether I should do something by whether I could find a valid ministry reason for doing it or if I could make it work into my schedule. As a result, I’ve missed the will of God for my life on several occasions.
One time when I was in prayer, the Lord said to me, “Do you not believe and have you not preached that if you delight yourself in Me that I author the desires you have in your heart?” I said, “Yes, Lord.” He said, “Am I your first love? Do you seek Me? Are all your ways committed unto Me?” Again, I said, “Yes, Lord.” He responded, “Then the desire you feel is there by My Spirit for the purpose of directing you in the decisions you make.”
Delighting Yourself in the Lord
People ask me, “How can I know for sure the desire I have is from God and not just my own desire?” The way you can be assured your desires are from God is by something called, “delighting yourself in the Lord.” The Word says if you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.
What does it mean to “delight in the Lord?” The verse right after Psalms 37:4 gives us the definition of delight. It says, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” He will bring “what” to pass? He will bring to pass the desires of your heart. Verse 5 is saying the same thing as verse 4: “delighting yourself in the Lord” can be defined as “committing your way unto the Lord.”
Committing your way unto the Lord means your greatest interest is to walk out the will of God for your life. He is your priority. You’ve committed all your resource, your time, your finances—your whole life to Him. When you have committed your way to the Lord, you can be assured the desires in your heart are from God. They are God’s direction for your life.
Unfortunately, some believers are merely “weekend” Christians. They go to church on Sunday morning and then live their lives for themselves Monday through Saturday. They don’t “delight” in the Lord. Rather, they delight in such things as hobbies or watch hours and hours of TV every night. They use their time pursuing other things instead of God. These people have no confidence or assurance the desires in their hearts are from God.
Desire Is the Foundation for Success
It’s vital we understand how important desire is in our lives, because desire is where the initial thrust of behavior stems from. You cannot be consistent in any kind of behavior if you do not have the desire to do it. When people lack the desire to change their behavior in a certain area and try to modify their behavior through a legalistic, disciplined effort, their flesh will eventually get weary and they will ultimately fail.
Consistency and success are indicators of how badly you want something. Take, for instance, the field of athletics. When two teams are basically equal in talent, it’s hard to judge which one will win the game. In such cases, it’s usually said about the winning team, “They wanted it more.”
Desire is the root of all consistent behavior and is the very foundation of success. The person who has the most intense desire for something will succeed in obtaining it.
Missionary John G. Lake made a statement about desire that is impactful. He said when a desire becomes paramount in a man’s heart so that everything else ranks insignificant by comparison, it will come to pass. It is a law of God!
We see this truth throughout the Word. We see it in the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. She kept asking the judge, “avenge me of mine adversary.” The judge granted her request because he saw her desire was “white hot,” and he knew she would never stop pestering him about it.
James 5:16 puts it this way: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” It is the white, hot fervent prayer that avails much.
A fervent desire will come to pass. It is a law of God.
Desire Must Be White Hot!
If success has eluded you on a particular level—vocationally, financially, physically, relationally—then I would suggest that your desire in that area is not white hot. There have been times when I’ve counseled people about why they weren’t achieving the success they wanted for their lives. After talking with them, the reason became obvious to me. They didn’t want it bad enough.
They tell me, “Oh you’re wrong, Pastor. I do want success and promotions. I want to go all the way to the top.” I’m sure they do want all those things, but they are not willing to sacrifice anything to obtain it. They don’t want to pay the price. Their desire doesn’t burn hot enough to overcome the laziness or lethargy of the flesh.
This truth applies to spiritual things as well. Every person I know who got his/her healing by faith was aflame with the desire to be healed. Other people diagnosed with a terminal illness wanted healing but they didn’t want to make the spiritual effort to do what was necessary to obtain their healing. They weren’t willing to be focused… bore sighted…single minded…totally and utterly fanatical about getting healed. Sadly, none of those people received their healing.
They did have a desire to be healed but it didn’t flame “white hot” enough to compel them to do what was necessary to obtain healing. I’ll say it again: desire is the foundation of all achievement and success, because it is a law of God.
How Can You Intensify Your Desires?
Let’s talk about the desires God has birthed in your heart and what you can do to turn up the intensity of those desires. There are three things you can do.
First of all, desire is and can be intensified through experience. If you experience something that is pleasurable or beneficial for you, often times it will create a desire in you for more of the same. Each time you repeat the experience, the desire for it increases.
Take for instance, your prayer times with God. Many people tell me, “I never experience what others say they’ve experienced in prayer. My times with God are dry. I don’t have a desire to pray.” Eventually their devotional time dwindles down to nothing.
This used to be true for my life, as well. But I found that if you keep sowing, you’ll reap a harvest. Your dry times may continue for a season, but if you consistently pray every day, there will come a time when the presence of God will overwhelm you. The next thing you know, you’re looking forward to your next devotional time with God. These repeated experiences in prayer will create and intensify a desire in you for devotional times with God.
The second way to increase desire is through the mind (or the imagination). A good example of imagination (or our capacity to mentally image something) impacting our behavior is in Genesis with the people building the tower of Babel. It says, “And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Gen. 11:6). Even though they were an unregenerate people, the Bible says they were not restrained in what they “imagined” to do.
God told Joshua in 1:8, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua was to meditate, or think about, God’s laws day and night. For what purpose? So he could observe “to do” the law. As you meditate on and think about the God-given desires in your heart, it will produce right behavior. Meditating on those God-given desires will increase the desire, making them white hot.
I’ll give you an example of how both experience and mentally imaging created a desire in me. When I was in the Air Force, I had some friends who were really into handball. They kept asking me to play. I didn’t want to but they kept after me so I did. Initially, the first few times I played, I didn’t have much of a desire for it. But then I kept losing—which I hate. So I started to meditate on how to be a better handball player. I’d think about strategies and tactics that would improve my game. I began to win some of the games, and that repeated experience created in me a desire for handball. The next thing I knew, I was the one who was rounding up games!
3. Praying in the Holy Ghost
The third thing that will intensify a God-given desire is the Holy Ghost. The prophet John said about Jesus in Luke 3:16, “…he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” Fire! That’s white, hot desire!
As you pray in the Holy Ghost, the will of God will be revealed to you. And as you continue in prayer, the Holy Spirit will intensify your desire to do His will. You may not understand mentally the things you’re praying about, but you don’t need to understand. By faith, say to the Lord, “I’m believing for the desire that represents your will for my life to be turned up. I don’t want my desires to be lukewarm. Make ‘em hot, Lord.”
Just because God has shown you what His will is for your life doesn’t mean it will come to pass automatically. There is a price to pay. You can’t be a couch potato and expect success to come to you without any effort on your part. Success is gotten by those who are willing to invest their lives in the pursuit of whatever God has put on their hearts. They pay the price. They detest lukewarmness. And so must you.
Finally, learn to be more sensitive to the desires of your heart. Don’t be so quick to discard them as being selfish or self-serving. If you are a sold-out committed Christian, that desire is most likely God’s will for your life. Step out in faith and respond to those desires. As you do, you’ll begin to flow in the perfect will of God for your life.