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EARNEST DESIRE NEEDED TO RECEIVE GOD'S PROMISES
Our ability to receive the promises of God seems to be directly linked to the degree to which we earnestly desire to receive them. Yet, we often find it hard to maintain an intense desire to seek God and His blessings. We so easily become passive concerning the things of god and His promises.
To desire is to long for, to ask, to wish for, and to feel a need of. Intense desire has the power to overcome gigantic obstacles and win tremendous battles. For example, superior motivation to win an athletic event can lift an average team to perform beyond its ability and defeat a more talented one. The desire to live is one of the most important factors in the survival of the seriously sick and injured. Some people are poor "die-ers" because they are good "desirers."
Here's a challenging verse about desire related to prayer:"What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24).
DESIRE AND BELIEVE
Desire and believe are key words to this verse, yet many translators do not use the word desire. They prefer the word ask. The Greek word is aiteo, which appears 71 times in the New Testament. In the King James Version it is translated 46 times as ask and 17 times as desire."And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him" (I John 5:14,15).
The words are almost synonymous. To desire is to ask. To ask is to desire. Yet, James wrote, "You desire and do not have … because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly …" (James 4:2,3). Desires must be turned into prayers and prayers must be packed with desire.
So many prayers lack intense desire. Some are recited by memory without thought for what is being said. Others are prayed out of a sense of obligation without any heart involvement, like a football game disputed after the championship has already been lost.
We need to pray with deep feeling and intense desire as the Lord himself did: "In the days of his flesh, he offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears" (Hebrews 5:7).
THE PROBLEM OF PASSIVITY
Passivity is one of faith's greatest enemies. Isaiah complained to the Lord: "And there is no one who calls on Thy name, who arouses himself to take hold of Thee" (Isaiah 64:7).
Although there is a time for silent, contemplative prayer, and for prayers of surrender, there are times when we must go into battle and pray aggressively. Once we know the will of God, we must continue in prayer until His will is accomplished.
Jesus taught a type of prayer that becomes progressively more aggressive:Ask.
Imagine a child coming into the house to ask his mother for something he feels is very urgent, only to discover that she is not in the living room where he expected her to be.
Determined, he searches the house calling for her, until he discovers she is in the bathroom with the door locked.
Although he knows he should wait, he is so anxious that he knocks on the door until she answers. We need to learn to be as determined as the child in this little story, supplied by my friend, Casio Fabio D'Araujo Filho.
It is also easy to simply:
- Say prayers (we've learned the forms).
- Join in with others who say prayers (and call it a prayer meeting).
- Maintain our quiet time (very quiet, very unsatisfying).
But our real prayer is that which we want with all our heart. And God knows how to sort our prayers out! If we pray with our lips for revival, but have no desire in our heart for change, God knows that our real prayer is to leave things just as they are. Will He not answer our heart's internal desire rather than our lips' external request?
GOD REWARDS THOSE WHO EARNESTLY SEEK HIM
There are many wonderful promises in the Bible for those who overcome their passivity and earnestly seek the presence and blessing of the Lord. Here are just a few:Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you The desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)For I know the plans that I have for you, declares The Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity To give you a future and a hope. Then you will Call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I Will listen to you. And you will seek for Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:12,13)He that cometh to God must first believe that He Is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
NO CASUAL INQUIRERS
I have heard Joy Dawson say many times, "God does not reward casual inquirers. He rewards diligent seekers." Her life is a living example of this truth and another one she often repeats, "God answers desperate prayers."
Charles Finney wrote, "What constitutes a spirit of prayer? Is it many prayers and warm words? No. Prayer is a state of the heart. The spirit of prayer is a state of continual desire and anxiety of mind for the salvation of sinners. Do not deceive yourself into thinking that you offer effectual prayers without this intense desire for the blessing. I do not believe it. Prayer is not effectual unless it is offered with an agony of desire."
TAKE NO REST ... GIVE HIM NO REST!
Here's a fascinating verse:On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until he establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (Isaiah 62:6,7)
Unlike many earthly fathers, God wants to be disturbed. He wants us to remind Him constantly of the things He has promised to do. He says, in effect, "I don't want rest; I want seekers. I want you to come to me with fervent desire until a change occurs. The change will not occur in Me; it will occur in you. The intensity of your desire will separate you from the things that have been hindering me from pouring out my blessing. Your faith and holiness will grow until I can be consistent with my own character and word when I bless you. Your job is not to overcome my resistance. I have no resistance. Your job is to take hold of my willingness."
HOW TO CULTIVATE STRONG SPIRITUAL DESIRE
- Confess passivity as sin. Passive prayers are the fruit of a passive heart. We become apathetic to the things of God as we allow other things to dethrone God from our heart. "Break up your fallow ground for it is time to seek the Lord" (Hosea 10:12). Run the prayer plow of confession and repentance though the crusty hardness of your heart until it becomes tender and broken before God. Confess any and all sins the Holy Spirit reveals to you as you give Him ample time to search your heart.
- Establish some God-inspired prayer goals. Ask the Lord to reveal to you the blessings He wants you to obtain in prayer. "The Spirit helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should…" (Romans 8:26). Measurable goals are tremendous motivators. They help us focus our prayers and energies and cause things to happen.
- Ask Jesus to become the sustainer of your desires and the energizer of your prayer life. "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will (desire) and to work (prayer) for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
- Reorganize your schedule. Establish a time and place to meet God alone daily. Remind God of your goals and His promises. Thank Him that He hears you and answers you and tell Him you intend to continue praising and thanking Him until your desire becomes reality.
- Ask God to give you a prayer partner. His presence is felt when two or three gather in His name.
- Finally, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).
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