Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. –Psalm 37:4
In a delightful compilation of children’s letters to God*, a simple and very honest prayer reads, “Dear God, thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy.”
It’s fairly safe to assume that this little girl’s biggest desire was for a puppy. After all, puppies are cute, fun to play with, make great companions and are often at the top of every child’s wish list. I suspect that her heart must have felt a little betrayed when God answered her prayer differently than she had anticipated. Baby brothers are okay, but to many children, a puppy is a dream come true.
In this psalm of David there is a promise — an if/then statement, if you will. It could as easily read, “If you delight yourself in the Lord, then he will give you the desires of your heart.” If that is the case, how does one explain the baby brother in the above story? Many people imagine God like a Santa in the sky with whom they hope to bargain, such as, “If I just go to church, pray the right prayer, say the right things, then God will reward me with a new job, a new wife, a shiny red convertible, or something else for my pleasure.”
However, I’m hesitant to approach Scripture as merely a recipe for my own happiness. A more accurate reading of this passage reveals that when a person delights himself or herself in the Lord, then the desires of our hearts become more in line with the desires of God’s heart. Does that mean you can never ask for a new job, a new car, or other things of personal pleasure? Absolutely not! It does, however, reveal God’s deeper desire for us: to become more like Him. A worship song expresses the prayer this way, “I want to be more like You. I want to be more like You. I want to be a vessel You work through. I want to be more like You.”
Today, may those words be the prayer of your own heart.
1. Listen carefully the next time you pray. Are your prayers centered on your own desires and wishes, or do they reflect the willingness to accept God’s desires as your own?
2. What specific actions are you taking to become more like Christ?
Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 16:2, 9
*Children’s Letters to God, the New Collection. Compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall. Workman Publishing, 1991.