I have two crazy cute daughters and a wonderful wife. This morning I was helping Alethia put on her shoes. She’s two years old and likes to be a little independent at times. Danielle, my wife, asked her to put on one pair of shoes yet Alethia wanted a different pair. Danielle told her to ask her Daddy. Her way of asking was this, “Daddy, can you help me not wanna put on those other shoes?” Alethia wanted me to change her heart desire for a shoe preference. The reality was that I could not no matter if I wanted. Parenting may have its days but at least it is entertaining!
There are times when we ask God the same question. “God, help me not want to __________ or help me to do __________”. You know what goes in those blanks much better than I could guess. My question is how does God change our “wanna’s”? Do we really expect we can pray a prayer and assume God will wave His hand and our desires will instantly change from evil to good? I do not believe it is this easy or simple.
The psalmist knew the demand of his desires along with the device of change. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9-11). Certainly the psalmist prayed for God to not let him stray from obedience but his strategy did not end there. Too often Christians pray that prayer then if they sin they think to themself that God didn’t answer their prayer or that He must not have wanted them to obey or even worse, they assume and take for granted that God will forgive them no matter what. All of these thoughts are foolish and fail to understand God and the psalmists approach. After the psalmist prayed that he declared, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.” In other words, his device for God to change his desires was not simply in a half-hearted prayer but in the grind of memorizing and meditating on the words of God. His desires changed because he spent time learning to love the things God loves and hating the things God hates.
So, the next time you pray “help me not wanna __________”; don’t forget to spend some time digesting God’s Word into your life.