"Give me children, or else I die."--Rachel (Gen. 30:1)
Do you pray for souls like that?
Do you want spiritual victory that badly?
Do you approach God with full-bodied intensity of desire, or do you approach Him with a detached, emotionless manner that shields itself from disappointment by not wanting anything in the first place?
When it comes to your brother, your sister, your children, your grandparents, people you love who are not walking with God, are you indifferent when you come before the throne of Grace about their case?
Is it not unnatural to not really want things?
Taught to not want things
As a child, I learned not to want things. The unspoken rule in my home growing up was not to ask. We didn't have money for things I might have asked for, and if we did ask, the answer was always no. I'm not saying this was a bad thing--I have been able to live within my means due to practicing this habit from childhood--but there is a key difference: My parents had to limit my insatiable desires because their means were limited.
On the other hand, God has unlimited means. Does this not give you the chance to approach him with unlimited desire? God is the place where intense desire meets infinite supply. Shall you not avail yourself of this privilege?
Desire and the curse
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."--Gen. 3:16
"If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."--Gen 4:7
Then, you find Christ, and you suddenly experience the conviction that your desires have all along been wrong. You repent. You agree with God about your former way of living, of thinking. You admit that what you wanted was wrong. You even find the power to overcome those desires and deny them.
In the midst of all this, however, you make a subtle mistake. In denying the flesh and its lusts, you put a stop to desire. You do not allow yourself to want anything any more. You discover that all of the desires of the flesh are wrong, but instead of replacing wrong desires with right ones, you repress desire itself.
Therefore, your prayers are timid and your effectiveness is weak. You come before God, dead, lifeless, your mouth speaking words, making requests, but your heart untouched, and your eyes undimmed with tears.
Don't you want an answer?
The Dilemma and the Opportunity
"But I'm not allowed to want that," you protest. "I must hold that loosely. I must accept, as Jesus did, 'Not my will, but Thine be done.'"
You forget that there is one thing left to desire.
Desire is not the problem; rather, the problem is desiring the wrong things.
Therefore, desire the right things. Unleash all your pent-up desire, and desire the one thing that is open to you. Want what He wants. Want it with all the clamoring earnestness of Rachel, driving Jacob to exasperation with her insistent plea. Want it with all the importunity of the friend at midnight. Lavish all the desire of your heart on desperately wanting His will.
Listen to how intensely Paul desired--and therefore fought for--the objects of desire that God had imparted to him:
"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." (Rom 10:1)
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." (Col. 1:9)
"Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." (Col. 1:28-29)
God's will is worth desiring--and when you make that your desire, it will surely be fulfilled.
Then what is His will?
Think of the obvious things God has revealed His will to be.
- The salvation of the lost
- The defense of the widow and fatherless
- The restoration of marriages
- The advancement of God's glory
- Unity among brethren
- Visiting the sick and the prisoner
- Building the kingdom of God
- And so much more
Also seek the Lord prayerfully for the specific burden He would share with you. When God shares with you what is on His heart, and then you begin to pray in faith for that thing, it is a prayer that is guaranteed to be answered.
"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." (Mark 11:24)
When your desire unites with His will, and you want what He wants with all the insatiable longing of your heart, there is explosive power in that. God's will is not some vague, nebulous thing that keeps you in a state of limbo, not wanting anything because "it might not be His will." God's will is a concrete rock on which you can build legitimate, Godly desire.
Consider Jesus in the garden, praying "Not my will, but thine be done." Was He unaware of God's will? No. Was God's will some mystery, some unformed thing that no one could know? No. Jesus knew that it was God's will for Him to go to the cross and die and rise again and offer salvation to all mankind. That event was the climax of history, and from the beginning of the world, God had been planning it, staging it, getting everything into place. Jesus wanted God's will to be done more intensely than He wanted to avoid crucifixion, and therefore He prayed intensely. Envision two desires wrestling with each other: "Let this cup pass from me," and "Thy will be done." The desire for God's will prevailed.
Do you look at "Thy will be done" as a hands-off, que sera sera type of deal, or do you look at it with an attitude of "I want your will more than I want this other thing, and therefore I'm going after your will with everything that is in me"?
An Alluring Objection
The tempter will undoubtedly whisper to you, as he has done to me, "Surely it is enough for God alone to desire His will. Why should you bother exerting your own desire when God will surely accomplish His will whether you want it or not?"
Let us hold that argument up to Scripture to see if it is valid.
Observe, first, the Lord's Prayer. Jesus taught us to pray, to ask for the following:
- Hallowed be Thy name (can God's name ever be anything other than holy? Yet we are instructed to pray for it.)
- Thy kingdom come (Can anything stop the coming of God's kingdom? Yet Jesus tells us to ask for it to come anyway.)
- Thy will be done (As if anything could resist God's will--yet Jesus commands us to pray for it.)
Are these futile prayers? Not in the least. In a prayer as concise as the Lord's prayer, surely Jesus would not pad it with meaningless busywork for our mouths to chatter. On the contrary, God shares with us His heart and invites us to participate with Him in the realization of divine objects, in sublime categories that we would think would be out of our reach, if it were not that He specifically instructs us to pray for them.
Second, remember the cost of not wanting anything with desire. That was how you were praying those lifeless, ineffective prayers that accomplished nothing. Wanting things is powerful. Perhaps that is why the enemy has a vested interest in keeping you from ever wanting anything.
What does it look like to want things?
David Brainerd wanted the conversion of the Indians. How did that look? Read his journal. Day after day, week after week, month after month, he sought God. He prayed. He wept. He pressed in for more of God until his body was spent, and nevertheless, racked with illness, he still pressed on. He gained his object and died glorifying God.
Read about men like Father Nash, who would go to a town a few weeks before scheduled revival meetings, lock himself in a room, and groan and weep and agonize in prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit. The effect of this was tremendous, as God moved mightily among the people of the town.
Consider the stories of men like Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton, pioneers in their fields, who saw whole nations changed for Christ through their efforts.
Ask yourself the question, Is it possible for anything to ever happen for the advancement of the Kingdom of God without a surrendered man or woman wanting what God wants with intense desire, and then going after that object?
Will you desire God's will with everything that is in your being?
What could happen if you did?
What if you prayed with that kind of desire?
How would your prayers be different?
Do you sense the attack against desire in your own life?
What will it take for you to begin to confidently desire things from God?
How often do you purposely and strategically desire God's will?