Can We Trust God To Give Us What We Desire?

prayer desire3 Can We Trust God To Give Us What We Desire? What is your deepest desire?

Do you think God wants you to have it?

I think many people believe being holy means being miserable. That God doesn’t give us what we want the most because it’s selfish.

So we run from him to pursue our dreams.

Is that really necessary? Is God’s will found only in what we least desire?

St. Therese of Lisieux paints a different picture of desire. One that resonates to the core for me.

Is it selfish to ask God for your desires?

I once met a brother in a religious community who had a reputation for holiness.

He told me about his desires for the priesthood and missionary work. They were lofty goals, but I thought they were good ones. I remarked offhand that he better start praying! His reply was, “I never pray for myself.”

It struck me as odd. What did he mean by that? It’s like he was saying it was too selfish to ask God for what he desired…even something good. Did he think it was too presumptuous and bold to ask for himself?

God puts his desires for you in your heart

Fr. Michael Scanlan, the former president of Franciscan University, once told the story of how he hesitated to become a Franciscan.

He just knew that if he did, God would send him to Africa to be a missionary, and he hated that idea. He strongly desired to be a Franciscan, but he really did not want to go to Africa.

Finally, when decision time came, he confided in his spiritual director. The director told him not to worry. If God wanted to send him to Africa, God would put Africa in his heart.

In other words, if God’s desire was for him to be in Africa, that would become his deepest desire as well.

“He makes us desire, then grants our desires…”

St. Therese expressed something similar. She was supremely confident that her deepest longings were, in fact, what God most wanted to give her. She once told her sister that “the good God never gives desires that He cannot fulfill.”

In fact, for Therese, the desire itself was a sign that God wanted her to have it. It meant he was preparing her to receive the gift. She said, “He makes us desire, then grants our desires…”

For instance, it was Therese’s deepest desire to become a Saint. So, as her logic went, since God put that desire there, he had to see it through.

Therese had an intimate relationship with God and her trust in him was boundless. She boldly asked what she wanted, and God granted her desires because he was captivated by her audacity and trust.

The place of renunciation

Obviously, there is a place for renunciation in the spiritual life. Sometimes our desires need to be purified.

Sinful desires only take us farther away from God and the blessings he longs to lavish on us. Because of our fallen nature, sometimes these get in the way. We have to mortify them–put them to death.

However, those aspirations that are good, noble, and lift us toward God when we dream about them–those are a different story.

Spiritual Takeaway

God doesn’t want you to be miserable. You don’t have to give up what you most desire to follow him.

Our desires come from God. They are what he wants most for us. They speak to our mission in the world, the part we play in furthering the kingdom of God.

What is your deepest desire? Talk to God about it! Don’t be shy–be bold. He wants you to tell him your feelings, desires, hopes and dreams. Honest, transparent conversation with God is how you match up your desires with his desires for you.

Ask him how you can follow your dream and also grow in relationship with him. I think these are interconnected.

Do you pray for what you want? Do you think it’s selfish to pray for yourself? Let me know in the comments!

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About Marc Cardaronella

Parish DRE by day, blogger by night. I'm passionate about figuring out the most effective ways to transmit the Catholic Faith and spread Christ's Gospel to the world. Join me? Find me on Facebook, Twitter, and for the catechetical ramblings of the day.

Comments

  1. Marc, great post! When I was attending some Theology of the Body talks, our pastor commented that when he has a need, God seems to intensify it, and then He fulfills the need. Much like God does with Adam in Genesis 2, where God knows that Adam need a companion (hence it’s NOT good that he’s alone), but instead of just bringing Eve to him right away, He first brings all the animals to him. When God finally brings Eve to him, Adam rejoices! After hearing that, I find this happening to me all the time!

  2. Excellent brother. makes me think of a quote from Gerald May, M.D. who says that “True freedom is not being able to do whatever we want. It is being able to do what we most deeply want.” So often I play around (with God and me) on the surface of my desires whimsical and passing though they may be, while God urges me to, “Put out into the deep.” …the deep place in my heart that desires God–the place in my heart and soul where God dwells. I can’t help but think that this is what the psalmist was referring to when he prayed “deep calls to deep.” Ironically, it seems that it is when we are in the “deepest” water that we can trust God the most.

    Thanks for sharing (and continuing to develop) your gifts brother!

  3. I was just sharing Ps 37: 4-5 with a group of women this past weekend:

    “Take delight in the LORD,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
    Commit your way to the LORD;
    trust in him, and he will act.”

    Indeed, the dreams God plants in us are the spiritual inspirations and intuitions that can bring God glory, and that certainly captures our imagination. I think God plants many more dreams than we can possibly accomplish, but that just shows us that there is a wide variety of paths to walk and serve Him in… it’s never boring! But I know you are right, Marc, the relationship with God helps us qualify and discern his will and direction.

    • “I think God plants many more dreams than we can possibly accomplish…” That’s a very interesting thought Pat. I bet you’re right. It kind of boggles the mind really.

      It’s similar to something I’ve heard before that says God has many, many graces prepared for us but we usually never get them because we don’t ask for them. It kind of makes me think, how much more could we accomplish if we asked for more from him? Again, sounds presumptuous but not if you consider Therese.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. “many people believe being holy means being miserable.” Yes; although in my life, the nearer I am to holiness, the less miserable I am, esp. when the inevitable bad stuff happens.

    • Yeah, that’s exactly it! That’s what people don’t get. The more I live this life, the less miserable I tend to be. The deeper you get into it, the less things seem to bother you.

      Many avoid the Church because they think it will keep them from what they want, but their missing out on what will actually show them what they want.

  5. Great post and ideas, Marc. I read this yesterday just in time to use some of the ideas in a conversation started by my teenager last evening!

  6. I think you have to approach praying for yourself in the right way… if you are doing it with a selfish heart (as in, dear God, please let me have a million dollars so I can buy a mansion), then it is selfish. However, I’ve always thought and heard from priests that God wants us to pray for ourselves – He wants us to ask for the things we desire, and even more He wants us to pray for ourselves about the things with which we struggle (patience, chastity, etc.).

    • I think you are exactly right Liesl. I struggled with how to put that when I wrote the post too. I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. I really do think God wants us to pray about those things we struggle with and those things we desire.

      It might even be a good idea to talk to God about really wanting a million dollars and a mansion because perhaps in doing so he can help someone to heal their selfish heart.

      Thanks for the comments.

  7. Allison says:

    Great post.

    Mostly I pray that I fulfill the purpose God has for me because I know it will be far better than anything I can imagine for myself. Still, I have crazy dreams in my heart (that He put there?) about writing for His glory. I do this on my nights/weekends, and I teach high school religion as a “day job.” It’s not as bad as it sounds – I promise I’m not doing it for the money! ;-) I love the students and the curriculum, but I’ll admit that I have dreams of sleeping in late, working in my pajamas and writing for people are so interested in what I’m talking about that they would even pay money to read it/own it a book, (as opposed to speaking to people who “have to be there.”) Maybe I’m just in the phase that Adam was in before he got a companion – You know, the part where God gives him the animals! ;0 Thanks for asking about my dreams!

    • I can so relate to this! I have the same dreams!!!

      I have said the same thing to myself–I know what God has planned for me is far better than what I can figure out for myself. So why do I keep planning? ;-) Seriously though, so far he’s led me to a very fulfilling life, but still I dream for more…to reach more people and be a true agent for change in the world in order to further his kingdom. It gives me hope that this isn’t just my imagination or selfish imaginings when I consider Therese.

      Funny comment about the animals! I have no doubt you aren’t kidding! ;-)

      God bless and thanks for the comments!

    • Strange that I have also gotten thoughts of writing for his glory

  8. Sweetjoyjoysweet says:

    God is just trying to be mean that is all to it. I have asked god for something over thousand times he never gives it to me so i have given up on god. I am looking for somewhere else for help.
     

    • I know it can be frustrating. There are things I’ve asked God for many, many times over years and still they don’t come to pass. I never know why because they seem to me like good things but he doesn’t grant them. Still, I never give up on him.

      I feel his presence all the time and I know he’s with me. When I look back on events, I often see his hand in things, guiding me and guiding events in the best possible way.

      Yes, there are things he doesn’t give me. However, I trust him. I trust that it’s for the better even though, at the moment, I can’t for the life of me see how. I know that he knows me better than I know myself and knows what is best for me. I work out things to the best of my ability and then trust in him for what I can’t control.

      To me, in the end, trusting God like that is the key to happiness and fulfillment. To look at everything that comes from his hand as a gift, a precious gift that has sweetness and sometimes bitterness. That is a relationship. You stick with someone through good and bad. You are for them and they are for you. I’m with God now and I know he’ll take care of me. I hope you’ll continue to trust him as well and not give up on him. I think he’s the best thing going in this life. I really do!

  9. Yohanes Usboko says:

    Hi Marc, thank you for the article!
    For me, I try my best to carry out what says in Mt 7:7 and then surrender to our dear Lord Jesus to answer.
    Again, thank you.
    Yohanes Dili, Timor-Leste

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Nice strategy! Surrender is often a very hard thing to do but also the thing that brings the most peace in life. If you can allow yourself to want what God wants for you then you will be much happier in life. Don’t give up your dreams and desires. Ask God for what you want. He’s placed those desires in your heart for a reason. But don’t be upset if they don’t come to fruition right away or even if you have to wait a while. Assign yourself to live on God’s time. He knows what’s best in every situation. He knows what you need when. But, if you prepare yourself for when it comes, you’re all ready to accept his grace and let it shine.

      Thanks for the comment!

  10. Hello Marc! I have a question about career. I have a certain dream career in mind, ever since I was little. And now that I am an adult and old enough to pursue that career, I have prayed countless times for God to help me achieve it, but I haven’t seen any aid or guidance. I know that God has a plan for our lives, but I am sure he lets us choose our career paths so long as they don’t go against the bible? I wanted to ask if God already has our career, spouse, etc planned out for us and we have to pray to found out what they are, OR God lets us choose them, but we have to seek his guidance to acquire them? Thanks!

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Hello Dorothy,

      Sorry it took me a while to respond. I’ve been traveling this week.

      I think God has a specific plan for our lives and we have to pray to figure it out. But he also lets us choose it. I know that sounds sort of contradictory, but it’s not really. It’s not like what he has planned flies in the face of what you want…like a bad parent that forces their child to be a doctor when he really wants to be an artist. I think God’s plan for your life takes into account all your talents and abilities, the spiritual gifts God infused into your souls at baptism, and your personality. He created you with these things for a specific purpose that would fulfill you, contribute to the world, and build up his Kingdom.

      So, your desire for a certain career is his desire for you. He places the desire in your heart so that you’ll choose it and fulfill his plan. Of course, all this depends on you being in union with him and seeking his will. You’re right, the path you want to choose can’t go against his laws and Church teaching. That would not be his will for you. So, if you’re praying, seeking to do his will, and in relationship with God, you can figure out where he’s leading you. And, when you’re close to him, your desire and his desire for you mesh.

      I also know it takes patience and often takes a long time to realize. Enjoying the journey helps. And, if you’re constantly working toward your goal, you can see his hand in everything and understand how all your experiences are stepping stones to the final outcome. You also have to actively work and do your part to make it happen. It might not just fall in your lap. I like that old saying and I think it’s true–God helps those who help themselves. I think God rewards hard work because that develops you and makes you grow. Are you actively working and taking steps toward realizing your career goal? I’ve often found that when I take the initial steps and move, that’s when God kicks in the extra help that moves me further along the way.

      Hope that helps. God bless you in your journey.

  11. Colleen says:

    Great article but I would like to say that don’t think all desires are from God some are from us coveting what others have. We need to search our hearts to make sure that what we desire is in line with Gods will for our lives.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Really good point Colleen. I think you’re right. What we desire is not always what’s right for us. We have to pass it through the filer of truth, beauty, and goodness. We have to discern if what we want is really in line with what God would want for us and whether or not it would lead us to deeper faith and conversion.

  12. Hello,

    I just stumbled on your article and enjoyed reading it. What I struggle with is knowing when a dream is not one that will be come to be and to focus on other dreams that God might have in store for me. It seems like a waste of time to focus on a dream, God might be showing you is not going to come to be. This question is a big challenge for me.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      Hi Mary,

      I’ve struggled with this question too. It’s really hard to know. Honestly, I don’t think you can always know right away. Sometimes you just have to follow your heart and chase that dream and see where it leads. You can’t always tell a blind alley until you go down it and discover it doesn’t lead anywhere.

      The key is in the fruit. Does the pursuit of this dream bring you closer to God and give you joy? Does the thought of it still make your heart sing after a while. If it does then perhaps it’s of God. However, if you find yourself drifting away from him in the pursuit of it. If it becomes a burden or burns you out, perhaps it’s not the right path. Therese’s goals were firmly rooted in God. She desired his will for her, which she was sure of. I think she came across those desires through many hours of listening to God and fervent prayer. The hardest part is knowing if the roadblocks are God telling you to quit or the enemy making things difficult for you. I think, again, it has to do with the fruit and the disposition it leaves you in.

      Does that help? Thanks for commenting.

  13. This has been weighing on my mind for a long time. I think it has stopped bringing me joy, because I have lost patience and faith. Thank you. You have given me more to think about.

  14. I’ve asked for lots of things, but only for others, and I’ve got them, I did once ask for knowledge and did i get that, amazing. God is real, he’s as real as you and me, I’ve proved that much. If you really belive you get what you ask for. read the bible, all of it, then do what he asks and you’ll know he’s there.

  15. Christopher HenryI says:

    I agree with Marco.
    It seems the key is with fruits.
    There is no way you can be an instrument to produce spiritual fruits for yourself, your family and others, by choosing the wrong way.

  16. I’m glad I got to this site. I recently seperated from my bf that I love very much. I’m very heart broken and in this time only god has been carrying me. If it wasn’t for my prayer and devotaion to the lord I don’t know where I would have been. Previous break ups I have suffered from depression and it took me longer to get over them but I never prayed to god or asked for them back. I was usually just a wreck. Now since I have found god and this break up happend I turned to him and still it is sad and I get depressed at times, it is a lot better my emotional state. But becuase I love my ex so much, this is the first time that I’m asking for someone back. It has been my desire to marry this man and have a wonderfull life with him. I told god that I’m willing to give my all to this man. I was just wondering if it was selfish of me to pray that someone I love comes back to me?? Like the previous posts on this site for me it doesn’t feel like a sinful desire. I keep on praying and believing.

    • Marc Cardaronella says:

      I never think it’s selfish to pray for what’s on your heart. Honest, authentic, transparent prayer is telling God exactly what you feel and what you want. God wants you to relate everything you’re feeling to him in heartfelt, honest prayer. That’s the only way to really acknowledge what’s going on inside your heart and present it in the context of prayer. If it doesn’t feel like a sinful desire then it’s probably a legitimate one. The question you should continue to ask is, does that prayer lead you toward peace or discontent. If you continue to have peace with it then it’s probably the path you should be on. If it leads to discontent and frustration, it might not be where God is leading you. Of course, when your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to, it becomes difficult to stay at peace. But, perhaps that’s God speaking to your heart as well. I can’t know, only you can decide. So, if it feels right, keep on praying and trusting in God.

  17. Hi Marc! Thank you for writing this! This is exactly what I needed right now. I have been wondering if it is wrong to really desire something. People say God does not always give us what we want, which makes me scared and foolishly think,”Oh no, that means this dream will not be realized. Maybe someday I will be punished because I want it so badly.” But your article answers all my doubts and worries! God must have put His desire into our hearts so we can start to make things happen! But sometimes it is indeed a long journey to find the will of God. And after finding His will and aligning our desires into His, does not mean our tasks are done, we have to keep surrendering, praying, and doing the best what we can until it is fulfilled. Amen :)
    Thanks Marc! This is really indeed a blessing for me. God bless!

    • So glad this helped Maria! I love the way you put that, God must have put the desire in our hearts so we can make things happen. That’s a perfect way to think about it. It’s definitely not the case that he doesn’t want us to be happy, really dream, or really desire things. But the important thing is always trying to align our will with his. God bless you! I pray God leads you to realize the desire of your heart and his will for you is done.

  18. Hi Marc! Thank you for writing this! Recently me and my bf had a problem. We love each other, we feel perfect for each other but his parents is forcing him to marry someone else for their own reason ( to clear the both families misunderstanding) and pressuring him with their age and health. My bf is a very soft hearted person and he had to agree although he is not too happy. I always had the desire that he is the one for me and that we will get married. Even till now after knowing all this. I been praying and fasting that GOD will help me to touch and change his heart and his parents heart. Am i being selfish? I dont know but i still feel i have faith and that GOD will never let this happen. And i wont lie sometimes i do have the doubt that my faith is my stubborn and that its over but everytime i feel that way i start to pray and i get peace. My question is, am i being selfish? Is this a desire from god? And is my faith is from god?
    Thank you

    • Hi Anita! Thanks for commenting!

      Well, that’s a hard one to answer. I’m not sure you’re being selfish really. You feel what you feel and that’s sometimes hard to change…especially when it comes to love. Is this desire from God? Again, it’s hard to say. Perhaps God really does want you to pray for this. After all, he could change his mind. I think it’s important to try and see God’s hand in whatever happens. If he does marry someone else, it means that wasn’t God’s will for you and he’s got something else planned. In my experience, it’s usually something better. Just don’t turn your back on God or your faith if things don’t turn out the way you planned or the way you think God is leading. That usually doesn’t go that well.

  19. The bible is very clear about our own desires. We have to be sure our flesh is not waging war against our spirit in regards to our own personal desires. Jer 17:9 says ” the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it???”
    For me personally the more I line myself up with Christ the more I become selfless, Rom 7:21 Paul says ” I find than a law, that, when I would do good evil is still present within me!!!”. So as Christians I would encourage all of us to be mindful of our personal goals and agendas, Let’s make sure that God gets all the Glory!!!

  20. Hi marc, thank you for your posts. I find your thoughts helpful in my journey of faith. Ive been struggling for the past 6 years on how to stabilize myself in faith. I came closer to God when I strated praying the great desire of my heart. I prayed for it for years that it also became the reason why I wanted to talk with God thru theblessed sacrament. For many times God has given me assurances that my prayers eill come to fruition that I took them as promises from the Lord. At times I think of these promised as my act of over interpretations, that makes me lose hope and faith because waiting on its fruition is yhe hard part. Now my dilema is the two opposites. Gof promised me that my prayers will be fulfilled but the reality now is opposite ehat I thought as a promise from the Lord that makes me think God as a liar, though I know that God cannot lie. How should I proceed from this?

  21. Hi,
    do you think that the dream I have – to have the best family, to show other people that there is always good around, that you can actually live a happy, joyfull life, to be positive and enjoy life in a good way, to motivate people to get their life better and dream…- could it be a God’s dream ? I have a lot of dreams – for example I would like to be an artist, a music producer, singer, writter, dancer and those sort of things. I would like to do it for God some day, but I’m so passionate about a girl I love…she doesn’t know it and she’s not a christian.. but I love her so much ! :)) And she may never find out… and that’s why I just need to make the music, and it’s my dream to write some lyrics, create good music and put it on the radio. :) I believe it’s a way to start me up and this love is really giving me that fire to my heart, to my creativity. I believe God wants me to use the love I feel and put it into the music, because I think love is everything and nobody should give up on love. Never. (what kind of God would tell me that I should give up on that love ? It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever felt.

    I like positive thinking and I think it’s the best thing out there. Is it a gift, a thing from God ? I think that when you’re positive you can do absolutely anything you want. You can find the good where other people can’t. I have my dreams. And I know that I need to be positive, to be motivated and to really do what ever it takes to get closer and closer to my dreams. I think that God wants me to go that way, to fulfil my dreams …I once thought that the thing I had (and still have) (confidence because of canadian hockey players, US country…yeah I know it may sounds weird) the motivation ( I read motivation articles on the internet, not only christian, but everything I feel is right and is keeping me going forward and motivate myself)

    well I thought that these things were not from God (that was that doubting voice in my head, boy I hate that voice) but I now feel like it is the exact opposite. It may be a God’s way to help me, because I really hadn’t so much confidence a few years ago … You know, I’ve had not so much support around me… my family is kinda broken, I’m not attending my local church these days, but I’d like to; and there is practicaly no human around me to support me in these dreams…so that’s why I think it must be from God, that support I found in those things I mentioned above.
    Ï think people often don’t realize that God actually gives a tools or some power to us to make our dreams come true. (I just don’t believe that God would want us to be somewhere in the corner and have nothing to eat, nothing to dress, nothing to be thankfull for)

    I believe that if I’m dreaming and doing anything for my dreams, it’ll be everything all right. I want my life to be around family, LOVE and friends, and God. I just want to believe and need to believe in those things…God knows my heart and I feel that whatever I might write down here, it’s still not enough to describe what I feel. … :)

    I feel like God has given me some tools to achieve my dreams. I feel like I have a power in motivation and confidence. I have had a LOT of doubts in my life so far, but the motivation I have still keeps me moving forward and hoping for the good days. I’m gonna say this loud: I have my motivation in hockey. I love ice hockey (I watch the NHL) and I feel it gives me the passion, that enthusiastic feeling….well, it’s not only hockey. It’s Canada and the US too. I know it sounds crazy. And I really can’t explain it right now. But I just in my heart strongly believe, that this is the way I should go. And that it’s a God’s way, God’s dream….PS – English is not my native language, so I think I made some mistakes in my post :) … thanks a lot for an answer, I appreciate it.

    Peter

  22. Hi,

    Since childhood I had a small dream .My dream does’nt require me to put any effort its just a gift from GOD but nw since last six months so many circumstaces have arrived that I lost beleive that my dream will ever come true. The moment I feel that my dreams will be acheived ,the other day itself I get some negative indication. Its hard for me to digest that my dreams will never come true because its for my dreams that I live so somewhere down the line I am losing the hope to live……………………………….

    • Hi Sadiya. Thanks for commenting!

      I know this whole thing is very difficult and can be very frustrating. It’s important to remember that sometimes we have to remain flexible and open to adjusting our desires to fit God’s will. We always have to be open to that. In the Gospel of of Luke, Jesus promises that persistence pays off and God will give us an answer. However, he doesn’t say what that answer is. It might be no, or something a little different. We pray to understand God’s will for us and to understand if our desires match up with God’s will…not to change his mind. If we get our prayers answered, that means confirmation of our dreams and the understanding that we’re on the right track. If nothing happens then it might mean we need to adjust our thinking, the timing isn’t right, or that God has something else planned. The thing to keep in mind is that God’s always has our best interest at heart. He knows better than we do what we need. And, he’s always thinking in terms of our eternal salvation. Don’t give up hope in God. Just try to figure out what it means that your dreams are not coming to pass like you hoped they would. Pray for an understanding of the situation and what God wants for you. Then move in that direction and see where it takes you. Always look to do his will in everything though and you’ll find your happiness.

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