Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Delight yourselves in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”   (Psalm 37:4)

Our assignment is simple: celebrate God! The rest follows. The big objective we seek is deep change “for good” and a paradigm shift in worldview – seeing prayer as the way we live, akin to breathing.

The Psalmist dares me to shift my focus away from the my needs and instead move my attention to GOD alone, then, with gratitude and anticipation, I will suddenly discover the very outcome I seek.

Dallas Willard calls this principle “spiritual indirection.” Instead of trying to break nasty habits, I instead lean in to develop a substitute virtue. Once the good is in place it drowns out the vice, as a little candle light banishes darkness. I say “yes” to a new good thing which on its own shouts “no” to my besetting sin.

In the same way, when I “delight” in God – focus my eye on seeing the good he is doing all around me – the miracle outcome I pray for comes right behind. Another angle: If I seek to relate to God face to face, his hands of action go to work on my behalf without my “help”. The best in life comes to fruition only when I stop trying to make things happen.

Reflection

I am holding my request loosely. My eyes are upward, and I am consciously grateful for his goodness! THIS is what the psalmist means by “delight.” It is here in this place where his hands work for me when I’m not looking, when I least expect it. Here, he “gives me the desire of my heart,” which seems to be both the object I desire but also the refined and sanctified desire itself. That is, he changes my heart in the matter. In Jesus’ words, when I “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” I am filled.

Response

Lord, my part, is to delight in you. I want to learn what this means. Teach me. Teach me the courage to express my gratitude and to celebrate like a lottery winner. As I wait for you, you generate the outcome you promise. I have asked; today I move immediately to thankfulness. Thank you for responding, even before that outcome arrives for me; I am thanking you ahead of my timeline! I speak this routinely, but this principle really is the whole objective of prayer: Relationship alone matters, and all else follows from this, and it will follow when I set my eye on the means and not the end! Give me grace to look in the proper direction today!

Through the day and beyond

Today I am seeking reasons to thank God ahead of time. This is my focus and the object of my search. I put aside my desire and look for where he focuses his desire. When I stop looking for my hope to appear, in a moment I least expect, I will find him delivering his best to me!

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