Several years ago, while I was in prayer, the Lord told me that I could ask Him for whatever I wanted, and He would give it to me. But the truth is: we ALL have that authority. John 14:13 (NLT) says, “And whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The Lord was challenging me to put His Word into action and trust Him completely.
At the time, I was unsure of how to operate in that God-given authority; nor did I fully comprehend just how much power I held in my tongue. Proverbs 18: 21 (NLT) says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” What I noticed, almost immediately, was how quickly He would give me what I did not want. What God revealed to me was that I would say things like “God, I really don’t want to blah, blah, blah...” and I would say it with such conviction and authority, that it would come to pass. I became a pro at speaking life to what I did not want, but, that conviction and authority took some time to transfer to me asking God for good things... maybe because I was unsure if I deserved them or was unsure WHAT I wanted.
Well, this year, on my 40th birthday (May 19th), I was challenged by someone in my circle of friends to consider the desires in my heart and then tell God what I wanted, but to be specific about it. And I did...so I thought.
God and I have “dates” every day. One in the morning, and one in the evening. It is a time I set aside just for He and I to spend together, uninterrupted. I talk to Him; He talks to me… I share my heart, and He shares His. I guard this time carefully and value this time with Him over everything, and our conversation, while I remain in reverence, is candid. I always begin my prayer time with Him by quoting Psalm 139:23-24, and for this devotional, I’m going to use the Message version, so what I’m about to explain will be as clear as possible:
“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.”
While I was in prayer this morning, I began with that scripture and started telling God all the things I love about His character and began thanking Him for His countless blessings and favor over my life. I prayed for my friends, family, and went through other requests as I normally do. When it came time for me to lay my own petitions before Him, as always, I prayed for God to fulfill His promises to me “for His glory”. I began to list those promises individually as well as what He said to me concerning those promises, but as I was praying, the Lord stopped me and said, “Be specific”. If you don’t know my personality, this may be difficult for you to understand, but I paused and looked up, then said, “Lord, I AAAAAMMMM!!! And did You really just interrupt my prayer, tho?!” So, I started listing specific things AGAIN He promised me that I’ve been waiting for and trusting Him to fulfill in my life. I even started quoting scripture to back up the promises, claiming the promises, rebuking attacks of the enemy that are trying to stop the promises, etc.
Then, the Lord said, “Stop. I know what I promised you. I’m fully aware of every promise I have given you and every gift I have awaiting you. But tell Me why. Why do you want those things from Me? I know why I gave you the desire to have them, but do you know? I know it will all be for My glory; otherwise, I never would allow it to happen... so, forget the superficial answer and tell Me WHY from your heart? Be specific about your REASONS. I want to know the motives behind your desires & the reasons behind your passion... don’t just quote my Word to Me but get to the root of WHY. I want to know if you understand for yourself why I’ve placed those desires within you and how I’m going to use them for My glory. Do YOU understand why you’re asking Me for what I promised you? If you do, then you will be able to fully appreciate it as the gift it is when I grant it.”
These words humbled me because I realized that today was the FIRST time I’d ever taken the time to genuinely figure out WHY I wanted the fulfillment of the promises I’ve been waiting so long for God to give me. I knew I wanted them… who wouldn’t? But I never considered the reasons... I don’t think I ever would’ve considered it either if God hadn’t chin-checked me.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (MSG) says, “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”
I wonder if, sometimes, when we read scripture, it sounds great to us, but we don’t really take into consideration what it’s saying when we quote it. Psalm 119:11 (NLT) says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
When God was telling me to be specific, He was doing exactly what the scripture I quote back to Him so often says … He was searching my heart. He was examining my mind. He was getting to the heart of the human… to the root of things. He was treating things as they really are, and not as they pretend to be because it’s what He does.
If we ever find ourselves placing the things of God on hold to pursue what we desire, that is a clear indication that those things are self-motivated desires and not God-given desires and require us to check our heart motives. The desires God gives us will never require us to put aside His call and will for our lives. In the same way, when we are actively pursuing the will of God, and consistently seeking His face when these desires begin to drop into our hearts and our spirits, that is a clear indication those are God-given desires.
For me, this time of "testing" came immediately after spending several weeks fasting and praying at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This time of being in His presence was followed by miraculous personal healing, as well as other blessings that I know God will release me to share in the coming weeks and months, but the fact is: God still tested my heart and my motives. Why? Because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
Luke 6:44-45 (NLT) says, "A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart." God already knew what was in my heart before I spoke it, but He still wanted to hear me say it. I also believe I needed to hear myself say it, so I would know that what I desired was indeed from God and not from selfish or self-motivated desires.
God will test our motives because of the deceitfulness of the heart. The heart may believe that it desires one thing, and we may even believe that thing is for the glory of God and for our good. But sometimes what we desire for ourselves is not what God desires for us, which is why God will challenge and test the motives of our hearts. Psalm 37:4 (GNT) says, “Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desire.” So, in other words, when we make God our priority, focus and find our happiness in Him, He places desires within our hearts that we never even knew we wanted.
As we prepare to end this current year and enter a new one, I challenge you to allow God to interrogate the motives of your heart. When you pray, be specific with Him about why you desire what you desire from Him and allow Him to test the motives of your heart and be open to the move of His perfect provision. He will grant the answers to our prayers according to His will, and there is truly no more perfect way.
You are the Creator of our hearts. You know the beginning from the end. You see the whole picture when we are only able to see a portion. You search the heart and examine the mind. You get to the heart of the human. You get to the root of things. You treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be. So, we lay every desire of our heart at Your feet. Remove self-motivated desires and increase God-given desires. Help us to discern the difference. Help us to be specific with You, Lord, and to remove the superficial, surface responses from our mouths to be intimately transparent with You. We surrender and release our plans to You to do as You please. You are faithful. You are trustworthy. You are good. You are honest. You keep Your word, and You keep every promise. Thank You for fulfilling Your good purpose and plans for our lives in Your perfect timing.
In Jesus' Name... Amen.