Psalm 37:4.  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart

My Time Streams series mentioned pursuing things by desire.  This is my study on using desire.



Desire is a paradox – it’s a key to both accessing God and achieving success, but it’s also a door of destruction.

The Bible first introduces the concept of desire after the fall of mankind.  God speaks of the “desire” a wife has for her husband.  Genesis 3:16.  (prophetic of the church seeking Christ.)  But then “desire” is used again in Genesis 4:7 as a root of sin, when God warned Caine before he killed Abel.

Desire gives us a powerful tool for either building or destroying.  We often use it unconsciously, submitting to the desires of our soul (our mind, will and emotions).  But understanding how desire works, we have the ability to choose our focus and select an end.

Desire can be an act of faith – believing a thing is possible so that it can be desired.


Desire can create a pathway to God

King David used positive desire as a key to approaching God.

  • Psalm 10:17. Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:
  • Psalm 21:2. Thou has given him his heart’s desire, and has not withheld the request of his lips
  • Psalms 37:4 – Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
  • Psalm 38:9. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee
  • Psalm 73:25. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee
  • Psalm 145:18-20.  The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.

Other prophets used their heart’s desire to access God and to receive answers to prayers.  And God himself approved.

  • Jeremiah 29:13 – And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
  • Isaiah 26:9. With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
  • Nehemiah 1:11. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cupbearer.
  • 2 Chronicles 15:15. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about.
  • Proverbs 3:15. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
  • Proverbs 10:24. What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
  • Proverbs 11:23. The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.

Jesus also taught and used the key of positive desire – in which God’s desire becomes our own.

  • Mark 11:24. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
  • Luke 22:15. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer :
  • Matthew 5:6. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 6:33.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
  • 1 John 5:15. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
  • See also John 14-15


We can receive our heart’s desire

But Jesus went further, and gave us God’s perspective on human desire: that we should help people by satisfying their desires (while not submitting to sin).  This is an ancient principle.

  • Mathew 5:42. Give to him who asks you, and do not turn away him who desires to borrow from you.
  • Job 31:16-23. If I have denied the desires of the poor … then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.
  • Proverbs 13:12. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

David implicated the broader rule, that God often allows desires to be fulfilled, even when they’re not the best.

  • Psalm 78:25-31. … And he let it fall in the midst of their camp, round about their habitations. So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire….
  • Psalm 107:29-30. He makes the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he brings them unto their desired haven.
  • Psalm 145:15-16. The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou gives them their meat in due season. Thou opens thine hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing.

This broader rule is seen in the life of Solomon, who did whatever things he desired, even to his harm.

  • Ecclesiastes 2:10. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labor: and this was my portion of all my labor.
  • 1 Kings 9:11. (Now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees, and with gold, according to all his desire,) that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee.

Negative desire is incredibly destructive.

  • Deuteronomy 5:21.  Do not desire your neighbor’s wife.  Matthew 5:28. But I say unto you, that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
  • 1 Samuel 12:13 – desired a king
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10. He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.  [The love of money is the root of all evil.]
  • Luke 20:46.  Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts;
  • Ephesians 2:3. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
  • Acts 3:14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
  • James 4:1-3. Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts

God may not grant every desire.  He does his work as he sees fit. Even so, it is important to understand how the principles work.


Be careful what you look for

Negative desire has been a problem in prophetic studies.  If we desire to see bad things that are coming, we may see bad things.  Sometimes, it may be plans of the enemy that could be cancelled or avoided.  It may be tempting for some to embrace the bad, and long for it as vindication.  This seems wrong to me.

  • Amos 5:18. Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.
  • Ezekiel 22:30. I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.
  • Isaiah 59:16. And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him.


Using the Key of Desire

Desire is a Matter of the Heart

  • Psalms 119:10 – With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
  • Matthew 6:21. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • Proverbs 16:9. The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
  • Jeremiah 17:9. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
  • Proverbs 4:23. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
  • Psalm 119:11. I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Our hearts must be cleansed from double mindedness so that we desire the things of God.

  • Luke 6:45. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
  • James 4.8. … purify your hearts, you double minded.
  • Psalm 37:4. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
  • John 15:7. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish [i.e., desire], and it will be done for you.

David understood these things, and asked God to cleanse his desire.  Similarly, Paul wrote about renewing our minds.  We can use the courtroom protocols for this cleansing, and also by washing in the blood of Christ, submitting ourselves as living sacrifices, and asking God to do the work.

  • Psalm 38:9. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.
  • Psalm 139:23-24. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
  • Romans 12:2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Desire is the first level in achieving goals.  You desire a good thing in your heart, which takes a measure of faith to believe the desired things is possible.  Your soul (e.g., mind, will, and emotions) begins to focus on it.  Your mind studies the thing, learns about it, and meditates on it.  And you act with your strength in pursuit.

These levels were given by Jesus saying how we should love God:

  • Mark 12:30. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength

It’s easy to read that passage on the surface as expressing a totality – but the total commitment consists of four parts.  A person fully devoted to God will be seen acting on that devotion in wisdom.

Effective Desire is more than a hope or a wish.  Effective Desire is pouring our whole heart into something that aligns with the heart of God, so that we act to achieve it.

  • John 15:7. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you
  • Proverbs 13:4. The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
  • James 1:22. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
  • Proverbs 13:12. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.



Early studies into the prophetic identified the soul as our mind, will and emotions.  Spirit is identified as wisdom, conscience, and consciousness.  It’s likely more complicated, as evidenced by Ian Clayton’s gateways study.  But I’ve found this description to be a helpful start.