Today I was at a prayer group meeting, a really beautiful, honest, candid time of sharing needs and interceding.
And while we were doing that, I was struck by something. Fortunately it was not a truck. Just an insight.
Souls long for heaven. All of them. Or I should say, all of our longings and desires are about our longing for heaven. We all have that God-shaped void within us and whether we are aware of it or not, we seek the fulfillment of that void.
That's not to say that everything we desire is capable of fulfilling us. I'd venture to say that most of what we desire is clearly incapable of the task. Some of what we seek does a great deal of harm to ourselves and to others whom our lives touch. Some of what we seek is a desperate attempt to deaden a sense of longing. All this longing-for-stuff business requires enormous energy from us, and deadening this is a less obvious way we do a great deal of harm to ourselves and others.
But then there is a sort of longing that we get caught up in, I think, because it feels so holy. This can be when we long for someone's conversion. We long for people to be healed, to have their lives turned around, to even get turned on to the realization that there is more to life than they realize. We long for change in other people.
That feels really holy. But I know from experience it is possible that this really masks other things, such as: Lord, I really just want my life to be easier. I'm afraid of pain, and I want it to stop. If she were different, I would feel vindicated. If he loved God, I would feel more loved, too. If they were converted, I wouldn't have to trust You so much about this other thing. If everyone around me were holy, I would be free from the cross.
These longings can really be about our comfort and ease.
And these are not bad things. But neither are they God.
When we pray, Jesus taught us to seek God first. To set our hearts straight onto Him. What is heaven after all, but living in union with God and being in His presence? This is the ultimate desire of the human heart.
We have to pray from where we live, and while we live apart from heaven we have to pray like it. God wants us to make all of our requests known to Him, not because He is unaware, but because sharing between friends from the heart is how communion is established. So I would never advise anyone to stop praying simply because their prayer aims too low. We need to wrestle with what is in our hearts, verbalize it, be honest with ourselves and God. And after we do all that, we need to stay aware of the One with whom we are speaking by being silent, building a silent part into our lives, and giving Him time and space to respond to us.
And when He starts telling us about His longings for us, our desires will start to change.