Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
“Dear God, please bless it or block it.” That has been my prayer lately on quite a few life issues.
A good friend recently shared that simple prayer with me as we talked about her relationship challenges and struggles. As many single adults do, she faced the uncertainties of the personal investment when meeting new people.
In considering the risk and rewards of potential relationships, we face the usual questions: How much of myself, my time, my feelings, my story should I disclose to this person? How soon should I look for deal breakers? Is fear or baggage from my past relationships pushing me to end the relational discovery process too soon? Are my feelings or attraction for this person blinding me to spiritual and intellectual incompatibilities? How does this person fit in with God’s plan for my life?
As I thought about it more, the profound wisdom and depth of that simple “bless it or block it” prayer stirred my mind. Praying it honestly and purposefully involves willingness and courage. It takes willingness to ask God to block a relationship even if we are good friends with the other person and/or are emotionally attached or physically attracted to each other. But we also need courage to step forward in faith when God blesses. Bending our will to God’s blocking is tough; discerning His blessing and stepping out in faith on it may be even tougher. Both require complete surrender.
In speaking with many singles, I quite often hear some who claim Psalm 37:4 as God’s promise to fulfill their relational desires and needs. Honestly, I’ve been guilty of it myself at times. The thought process goes something like this: If I do enough good things or get involved in enough Christian service projects to make God happy, then He will bring me my handsome prince or gorgeous princess. We cling to that verse viewing God as a cosmic vending machine where we try to insert enough “spiritual value” to be granted the desired item of choice. Three or four missions trips, tithing faithfully, helping five elderly people cross the street, teaching a Bible study class, building a Habitat for Humanity home….ka-ching! God will now grant me my heart’s desires. After all, He understands that the heart wants what the heart wants, right?
However, before we get too far down that path, let’s look at a few things a bit closer.
God is Not a Divine Vending Machine
The word “delight” in Psalm 37:4 means to be pliable, flexible or yielding – all great descriptors for the spiritual application of the word “surrender.” Yes, the mere mention of that word makes us groan. But before you shudder in fear and retreat, please hear me out.
When I am truly surrendered to God – my will, life purpose, desires, attachments, longings, satisfaction, sense of fulfillment, everything – then I view God much differently than a divine slot machine. Instead of praying, “God, “I’ll do this if you give me that,” a surrendered heart will echo the prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, not My will but Thine be done.”
Even though facing the risk and cost of a painful outcome, the prayer comes with full faith and assurance that God’s will for my life is better than my own. Whatever comes without God’s blessing isn’t worth having.
Many times, my wayward desires deliver a painful outcome. But God’s eternal perspective of consistently transforming me into the likeness of Christ far outweighs my earthly perspective of finding a spouse based on my fleeting desires and plans. My heart will deceive and mislead me (Jeremiah 17:9) – God never will. My passions and feelings will change – God remains the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
In a truly surrendered state, my heart’s “desires” will change. I no longer will pursue my selfish, earthly desires but God’s eternal purpose. When I honestly pray “Not what I want, God, but Your will be done through me,” God will always answer that prayer. Thus fulfilling the promise in Psalm 37:4. Taking what we’ve learned, we could paraphrase that verse to: “Surrender yourself fully to God and He will grant your heart’s newly transformed desires.”
So, a prayer of surrender for a single person might be something like this:
“God, I acknowledge your Lordship over my life. I praise You and thank You for the ongoing transformation You are undertaking in me. Lord, I must admit I do have certain desires, feelings and expectations when it comes to relationships. I think I know what I want based on how I feel and what I believe I know about myself. As a result, I sometimes make poor decisions because of my loneliness, uncontrolled desires, desperation and impatience.
But, God, I trust you as my Creator, Savior and Lord. I realize You know me better than I know myself. You also know what is best for me – what will bring me the deepest contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment as I perform the life purpose You have for me. God, You are all-knowing with all things under your loving and capable control. I yield to your omniscience and sovereignty. Help me become who I need to be to be most effective at what you have called me to do. Bring into my life those who would encourage, equip and enhance Your purpose while removing all those who would hinder it. Regarding a personal relationship I may be considering, you have my full surrender and agreement: bless it or block it. I claim this and ask it in Jesus’ mighty and wonderful name, Amen.”
Rest assured, God will always hear and bless that prayer. “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).
Be encouraged today, my friend, to have the willingness and courage to seek and accept God’s block or blessing. And not just in the area of relationships, but also in every area of life.