Kimberly N. Alleyne
The Harvest Magazine, Publisher and Editor
Scripture references: Psalm 37:4; Jeremiah 33:3; II Corinthians 1:5; II Corinthians 12: 7-9; Luke 22:42; Matthew 26:39; Hebrews 4:16; Colossians 4:2
The Holy Bible records the word “desires” three times: Once in Ephesians — Eph. 2:3, and twice in Psalms — Psalm 140:8 and Psalm 37:4. It’s Psalm 37:4, especially in recent months, that has given flame to my prayers, fueled them and my faith that would be otherwise room temperature. The Psalmist’s words in verse four have given me reason to keep hanging on, for promise of something, some place, some….thing greater, more bearable than what is now.
“Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I read this verse daily. On some days I read it multiple times–in morning talk with a God, on the train, before a meeting, after a meeting, after a harsh word from a co-worker, after a betrayal, when I’m afraid, when I’m discouraged, when my trust is betrayed, when I’ve been misunderstood, when I’ve been lied on, when I’m rejected, after a relationship breaks, when I’m exhausted and the “why” of it all escapes me momentarily. Yes, I read it daily.
The entire 37th Psalm is special and comforting, but it’s the fourth verse, about receiving those things that I want most, that encourages me that God really is with me, and hasn’t forgotten about me.
Those words make me exhale deeply: so refreshing an outcome from a conditional but simple instruction. Delight yourself in The Lord. I did that. I do that. I take delight; I delight every which way I turn. I am intentional about “delighting.” It is pure, unforced, unmotivated delight; the promise of what I want is not what moves me to seek God’s face, not anymore. I seek Him because I adore Him and so enjoy His presence.
But, yes, I do still desire my desires. I do. That can’t be wrong when the Word tells us that we can have them. And if the Word says to find my delight, my joy, my satisfaction in The Lord, and that I’ll get those desires, then where are they? Why haven’t they manifested? Why does the number of my unanswered prayers continue to climb?
I delight. I pray. I delight. I wait. I hope. I delight. I wait.
Wrong desire? Wrong time? Am I being punished for something? Is the answer–are the answers–flatly, “No?” I think the pain, the waiting, the not knowing would be easier if I knew. And yet I continue to delight, to pray, to wait, to delight. I think about unanswered prayers I’ve laid at God’s feet, and also those to which He answered, “No,” and I get frustrated. I hear Juanita Bynum’s beautiful heart cry, “I Don’t Mind Waiting” playing softly in my thoughts.
The truth is I do mind waiting, for the “yesses” and even the “no’s.”
In “Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare,” Spurgeon writes, “He gives us what is best for us, and if He does not give us the mercy we ask for in silver, He bestows it upon us in gold.”
Spurgeon also writes that we need to be reminded that our prayers should always be offered in “submission to God’s will.” Paul wrote to the church at Corinth that he kept humbled with a thorn in his flesh. Three times he asked the Lord to remove it, but God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – II Corinthians 12: 7-9
And the great Apostle said he took delight in weaknesses, for “when he is weak, then he is strong.”
I want that. I want a preternatural faith like Paul’s, but my faith is a much smaller measure and most days I feel saturated by my weaknesses. More than half of the New Testament came from Apostle Paul’s pen, much of time while he was imprisoned. Many Bible scholars and historians believe that during that era, the sewage system actually ran through one of the cells where he was incarcerated. It is plausible, some scholars estimate, that Paul stood in raw sewage, waist-high at times.
Still he gloried in his weaknesses, journeyed on with the thorn even though He asked God to remove it. An unfulfilled desire.
Imagine that: Paul stood in sewage; he was imprisoned; he was persecuted for Jesus; he had a thorn, and yet he kept bragging on God.
And so I ask myself, “Where is my faith? Where has it gone?” God cannot lie, He did not lie. It’s impossible. He will show me great and mighty things just as He said He would. I cannot stop believing, or hoping, or praising, or seeking…or waiting.
“Prayer is still mighty” as Spurgeon writes, and God is not slack in His promises as I know. I can’t faint now.
It is said that when Lord Bolingbroke, and Spurgeon writes about this, too, asked The Countess of Huntingdon why she concluded her prayers in submission to God’s will, she replied, “…I might earnestly offer a petition, and yet I might submissively leave it in the king’s hands.”
Ah yes. I know this. I surrender to Your Will, Lord, not mine. His silence is not punitive; sometimes it is merely a signal for me to press in harder, to listen more intently or to wait more patiently.
My total, authentic submission is my prayer currency. God hears me, you, all of us, everything we ask of Him, but that does not mean He will give us everything we ask for — and that does not mean He has forgotten or is angry.
My earthly parents did not give me everything I wanted, for various reasons, but always for my good.
And so it is with God.