If God were to answer only one prayer this year for you, what would you pray? This is a fascinating question to ponder. Would you ask for health? Money? A stronger marriage? Better grades? Or maybe some other desire? Another question to consider related to this would be: what should you pray? This question gets to the heart of what kind of answered prayer would pay dividends in every area of our lives.
I have an answer to recommend: It is a prayer that is not only noble, but if God were to answer it, it would transform of every area of your life. The blessings of God would flow into your marriage, your friendships, your work, your hobbies, and everywhere else. The answer to this prayer would affect everything.
Here is the prayer: “God, give me a greater hunger and thirst to be in, and enjoy, Your presence.”
That’s the prayer. This prayer echoes the heart of the man Samuel described as “a man after God’s own heart,” David. David was a young shepherd who loved and trusted God. He possessed a zeal for the glory of God that carried him throughout his life. He was a man who loved God, but knew there was so much room to love Him more.
David says in Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” He also writes in Psalm 42:1-2, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”
Does David’s heart and cry to God bear any resemblance to your own? Can you recognize any of yourself in his prayers to the Lord? I hope you do, but I imagine that many, like me, find their hearts lagging when compared to David’s. To reflect the posture of these psalms toward God in my own life is more aspirational than actual. The prayer I need to be praying is that it would be my aspiration, and that God would grant it.
The absence of this longing should convict us and lead us to repentance. We should not dismiss this as unthinkable for our own lives. Nobody should read these with the “yeah, but that’s David” excuse. David was a man just like us. He sinned and needed grace. He had highs and lows emotionally, needed affirmation, and wrestled with insecurities. He was human. This means that he was like us in all the ways we struggle. However, that also means we can be like him in all the ways he got it right. We can imitate his heart for God. We can experience the same passion for God he had.
Begin praying this simple prayer each day. Pray it multiple times a day until you find your heart desiring it. Read Psalm 63:1 and Psalm 42:1-2 and ask God to align your own heart with David’s heart. Ask that your own prayer and petitions would echo those found in David’s poetry. The good news for us, as we start this year, is that our God hears us and delights to answer the prayers of His people (Proverbs 15:8). He loves to hear the petitions of His people and to meet our needs. The Lord will answer many prayers for you this year, even the things you don’t ask, yet He knows you need (Romans 8:26). Make sure that one of them is the prayer of David. Even as I wrap up this article, we could finish by reading and reciting this last sentence and prayer together: “God, give me a greater hunger and thirst to be in, and enjoy, Your presence.”
Erik is the Lead Pastor of The Journey Church in Lebanon. He also founded Knowing Jesus Ministries, a non-profit organization which exists to proclaim timeless truth for everyday life. He is married to Katrina, and has three children: Kaleb (who went to be with the Lord), Kaleigh Grace, and Kyra Piper.