869) Ask and It Will Be Given You?

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  –Psalm 37:4 

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     Psalm 37:4 is one of those verses that Christians can twist to suit their own fancy.  I have heard some preachers claim, on the basis of this verse, that God will give us anything we want.  If we simply “claim it,” God will give us mansions, yachts, luxury cars, and, well, you name it.  To be sure, God can and does bless us materially.  But if we argue from Psalm 37:4 that “God will give you anything you want,” we miss the whole point of the verse.

     Yes, this verse does promise that the Lord “will give you your heart’s desires.”  But notice the context.  That promise comes after a command:  “Take delight in the Lord.”  If we put our delight in God, THEN he will give us the desires of our heart.

     How does this happen?  It isn’t some kind of divine system of rewards.  Psalm 37:4 does not mean that if we enjoy God, he will decide to reward us by giving us all the luxuries we want.  Rather, if we delight in God, if we focus on God’s nature, if we love God with all that we are, we’ll discover that the desires of our heart will be transformed.  We will stop being so concerned about our own “stuff;” even about our own well being.  Instead, we will start to yearn for the things of God, for his truth and peace, for his justice and mercy.  Our desires will begin to reflect God’s own desires for us and for this world.  Thus we will want what God wants, and he will give that which is according to his will.

     Moreover, the more we take delight in the Lord, the more we will discover that what we desire most of all is a truer and more vital relationship with him.  Strangely enough, a closer relationship with God both satisfies our deepest longing and intensifies that longing.  So as we learn to know God better, our heart’s desires will be increasingly focused on God.  We will seek him above all and, by his grace, find him.  Thus, in this way, God will give us the desires of our heart.

–By Mark Roberts, Daily Reflections, March 5, 2011 Blog at: http://www.thehighcalling.org (adapted).

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Matthew 7:7-8  —  (Jesus said),   “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Psalm 37:1-5  —  Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.  Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Take delight in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him and he will do this.

James 4:1-3  —  What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire but do not have, so you kill.  You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.  You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

James 4:8a  —  Come near to God and he will come near to you.

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I ask you, Lord, to align my desires according to the ways of your own heart.  May I want what you want.  May I seek that which is consistent with your will.  Let your will guide my prayers, my actions, my words, and my desires.  All praise be to you, gracious God, because you give me the desires of my heart.  Most of all, you give me the gift of close relationship with you.  Amen.

–Mark Roberts