Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
The blessing that God will give you the desires of your heart is contingent on delighting yourself in the Lord. Even when we expand the passage to see even more promises, we see the stipulations of the covenant. Psalm 37:3-6 reads,
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
We are commanded to trust the Lord and do good, dwell (rest, live, stay) in the land and befriend faithfulness. That is the definition of delighting in the Lord. That is the precondition for the promise. Commit and trust and He will act. Other verses talk about keeping God’s commands, worshipping Him and then receiving the blessings. Some verses talk about thinking a certain way; others talk about adopting an attitude before you experience the promise attached. But how does that fit in with God’s grace and mercy? It seems as if suddenly good works are required to receive the many blessings God has for us. But, this is not the case. God is always graceful, always faithful. Look at the provisions for the contract of the promise again. Let’s look at the requirements in some more promises. Proverbs 3:5-8 reads,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
Here guidance is based on depending on God and healing based on humility and repentance which leads to following Him. Though the promises may appear to be contingent on following rules, they are not. We often hear and say that Christianity is not religion and rules, it is a relationship. But do you truly believe that? Do you live it out? All these prerequisites for blessings really are about being in a relationship with the LORD. Even when it seems that God is saying “follow all the rules and then…” For instance, 1 Kings 3:14 reads,
And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.
We already understand it is impossible to keep all God’s commandments. That is, it is impossible without God. In Mark 10:17-27 when the disciples heard Jesus tell the rich young ruler how to be born again, they were astonished because Jesus said it was harder to enter the Kingdom of God than for a Camel to go through the eye of a needle and asked, “Then who can be saved?”
And Jesus answered, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
We know further that Jesus fulfilled the law for us (Matthew 5:17). He also said that all the law and the prophets were dependent on two commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22-36-39).
Those two great commandments are about relationship, about loving God first and letting that love be demonstrated by loving others. All those conditions for God’s blessings are about the way we mature or conform to the image of Christ because we are in a relationship with Him. Trust, dwell, be faithful, love, depend, commit, and delight are attitudes that we live out in our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He says that if we love Him and seek to know Him that all the promises of healing, provision, and abundant life will be given to us. Even God says that He does not want empty rituals and meaningless adherence to the law, He wants relationship. Hosea 6:6 reads,
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
A relationship means a relationship, it means communication, fellowship, spending time, and actively seeking ways to love. God called Abraham His friend (James 2:23). Jesus talked about us as His friends (John 15:15). We are called children of God (Galatians 3:26). These are all relational terms. All good gifts come from the Father (James 1:17) and He loves to give us blessings. Matthew 7:11 tells us,
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Perhaps, the reason you have not received the blessings and gifts you are wanting is simply because you have not asked. Sometimes, when we pray, the results of the prayer are us coming to understand ourselves, our desires, and our real needs. As we speak to God, He speaks back, though not always in words, sometimes it is in revelations about who we are. In Matthew 7:7-8 Jesus said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
That same sentiment is repeated multiple times by Jesus and later by the Apostles. Matthew 18:19, Matthew 21:22, Mark 11:24, Luke 11:9, John 14:13, John 15:7, John 15:16, John 16:23, James 1:5, 1 John 3:22, and 1 John 5:14 all say that if we ask, He will give. The condition is that you believe, have faith, ask in Jesus name, do what pleases Him, or gather in Jesus name and ask. Once again, the condition is about relationship, it is about knowing your identity in Christ as a child of God and acting in His name. God knows you completely. He knows your motives better than you do. Consider the many times people asked Jesus questions, He knew what was in their hearts and He answered according to their motives, not their words. Consider King David a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), who cried out to God so often, “Where are you? Why have you forgotten me?” God knew David was heartbroken, He knew David was angry or forlorn. That man after God’s own heart did not have to hide his feelings from God, He spoke openly to His Father in Heaven and as He spoke, sang, or cried, The Spirit comforted, counseled, and brought peace as David came to understand more of the Lord’s perspective. That is what happens when we talk openly and honestly with a loved one, a husband, father, or friend. When you are hurting, do you hide it from your spouse? When as a child, you were hungry, did you tell your parents? When you are confused about life, do you talk it out with your friend or do you mull over it in your mind? If you are in a relationship with the LORD, I Am, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Savior, and Wonderful Counselor, wouldn’t you bring it all to Him and know He can and will take care of you and love you?
There are times when my pain or even my desire is beyond me. I can’t put it into words, I can only go to His throne and cry or go to Him and sigh or say, “I don’t know, Lord.” But He knows us well. He knows us and even prays for us, I love the way The Message words Romans 8:26-28.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
Am I saying that works do not matter? No, I am not. A relationship with Jesus shows up in our lives, it shows up in our attitudes and actions (Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8), it is revealed by our love for others (John 13:35). It shows up in lives that look like Jesus. James said it like this in James 2:14-19
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!
Loving is shown in action. And belief without a relationship is no better than the demons! Spending personal quality time with someone is essential to a real relationship. Some of that quality personal time with the Lord, part of what it is to love Him with all our heart, souls, strength, and mind is to worship Him? What is worship to you? Is it time spent with The Lord, where you bless Him and praise Him and rejoice in who He is? Or is it singing songs with your arms uplifted, being filled with a really good feeling and asking Him to bless you? God blesses us already, shouldn’t worship be all for Him? If we worship with a motivation of blessings, good feelings, or catharsis are we worshipping or manipulating? Parents usually know when their child is talking them up to get what they want, God knows too. He is the LORD God Almighty, He is worthy of worship, and glory, and honor. Are we worshipping Him or the experience of worship? God already knows. If we come before Him honestly and choose to praise Him, choose to thank Him, choose to venerate Him even if we are not feeling particularly worshipful at the moment, I believe He prefers that faithful pursuit of Him much more than He prefers a false show following the rules we have set up for worship just because we need to feel that amazing blessing of the Holy Spirit. I believe too He is happy to bless us with that wonderful joy of the filling of the Spirit when we worship in Spirit and in Truth. You can worship in Spirit or in Truth if you have not entered into a relationship with the object of your worship.
What are the blessings you are seeking? Are they truly for the glory of God? Are you in a real relationship with Him so that you know and want His will? When we pray for God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven, we are not only praying for that perfection, joy, and peace of Heaven, we are praying for that unadulterated intimacy with Jesus that will happen in Heaven.
Beloved, God has blessings for you and they are yours! He has made promises to you and they are yours. You do not have to hope harder, believe more, or work harder. Just continue to be in that relationship with Him and let Him conform you to His image. He will give you all the desires of your heart because you, Friend of God, will be a person after His own heart.