Take a moment and ask yourself this question: Do you remember a time when your desire for God was stronger than it is today? Maybe it was right after you first came to Christ. Or a difficult season in your life forced you to depend upon him in new ways. Your desire for fellowship with Christ was strong. The Word of God refreshed and strengthened you. Gratitude and praise were a normal part of your prayer life.

What happened? What changed?

Our appetite for God will be dulled from overtly sinful things, but oftentimes our appetite for God is dulled by many other, seemingly harmless things to which we give our time and attention. These could be people, activities, or circumstances that, on the surface, appear benign, but they crowd out our desire for God and subtly replace it with other things. In fact, many of these are actually gifts given to us by our kind and loving God. For example, it may be family, a favorite sport, a hobby, a certain form of entertainment, an educational pursuit, your job, or a relationship you are in. Though not overtly sinful, they still have the capacity to dull our appetite for God—and frequently do! Ironically, when we worship the gifts rather than the Giver, those very gifts draw us away from God.

I have seen this is in my own life again and again, and I have frequently seen it in the lives of the men and women to whom we minister here at Harvest USA. These men and women normally come to us because they have a particular sin that they want to “put off.” In many ways, they know exactly what they want: “I need to get rid of ______ sin in my life. It’s really hurting me. My problem is this one area of my life. If I could just get it under control, I would be alright.” As we explore together how the gospel changes us, our hope is that these men and women begin to see that the problem is actually worse than they think—and that the solution is actually better than they imagined.

The problem is worse because it reaches beyond behavior to the heart. Sin has corrupted our desires and twisted our thinking. It is not simply that we desire sin but also that we do not desire God. The solution is better, though, because, through our union with Christ, we are not simply given grace to resist corrupt desires and twisted thinking. Rather, we are given new desires and renewed minds. In Christ, we are given a new capacity to delight in that which is truly delightful—namely, God himself.

If you are in Christ, you have been given new desires. These desires are to know, please, and worship God, to praise him, to meditate on his Word, to talk with him in prayer, to fellowship with his people, to grow in holiness, and more. But these new desires must be deliberately cultivated and protected if they are to grow and not wither. When they are not cultivated and protected, we will find our desire for sin growing. Our battle to kill sin will be ineffective unless our desires are being changed and our appetite for God is growing.

How do we know if our appetite for God is being dulled?

Are there warning signs that this may be happening in your life? Consider these three indicators.

  1. What was once both a duty and a delight to you is now simply a duty. Instead of thinking about worship, Scripture reading, prayer, and the things of God as things you get to do, you now think of them mainly in terms of things that you have to do.
  1. When you think of spiritual activities, you find yourself saying, “I just don’t have enough time.” It is harder and harder to make time to do those things you once did in order to know and love God.
  1. Your prayer life has withered, and, when you do pray, your prayers consist mainly of requests. Also, your prayers are short on adoration, praise, and thanksgiving.

What is dulling your appetite for God?

Even if we recognize that our appetites are being dulled, it can be difficult to identify exactly what is dulling it. In this case, prayer and other people can be of great help. In prayer, we have access to our heavenly Father who has promised to hear and answer our prayers when we ask according to his will. Let us ask boldly then!

Also, consider asking others who know you well, “What do you think may be dulling my appetite for God?” Our pride will resist posing this question to them, but God has promised us grace if we humble ourselves. Expect his grace and think of a few people you can ask. And then actually ask them!

As we pray and invite the observations of others, we can begin to identify what’s dulling our appetite for God. We can then ask God for his help to repent and cultivate the new desires he has given to us.

You know, there’s a lot at stake as we live this one, short, earthly life. Speaking at 2012 The Gospel Coalition Women’s conference, John Piper shared thoughts from Isaiah 6. John spoke about the power of gazing upon the Lord, to know our glorious Jesus as the one who is exalted and holy, yet who has come near to us so that we can have a taste of his majesty. Too often, we have a view of God which is way, way too small! To miss him is to spend the fleeting life we have been given on what is fleeting and passing away.

Seventy-five years from now, none of us will regret the decisions we made which flowed from love for Jesus. If we have gotten a taste of the majesty of God, then we will delight to give glory to God in who we are and what we do. We will not regret the ‘inconvenient’ and painful obedience that faith demands; the courageous confrontation and turning away from our favorite idols; the letting go of even good gifts that may not be what God has for us; living in singleness, which leaves a dull and painful ache at times; being faithful to our spouse in a tough marriage; or persevering in love toward wayward and rebellious children.

Many women I’ve gotten the privilege to journey with have become tripped up in their calling to be “glory givers” because their view of God was too small. A small view of God makes other people become big—bigger than they should be in our lives. We become hungry for them, and we feast at the banquet table of emotional cravings. That’s certainly been true in my own life. A growing worship and awe of our Lord Jesus leads me away from people idolatry to truly loving others, rather than using, being controlled by, or obsessing over them.

The Holy One upon the throne, so beautifully described in Isaiah 6, isn’t meant to drive you to a fearful retreat from a Holy God! No, this throne is owned by the Grace Giver, who is glorious and who welcomes needy, robbers of glory like you and me! We come to this throne “receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV). Read Isaiah 6 in the context of the mercy of Jesus Christ for you, and prayerfully examine your life to see how mercy shapes your life for him.

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

How is God calling you to be a living sacrifice for his glory? For his purposes? How is he inviting you to love him by letting go of an unholy relationship that is eclipsing the Lord’s presence in your life? How is he inviting you to fix your gaze on him rather than trying to figure out how obedience will “work” in your favor? How is he calling you to courageously confess to a friend regarding your online addictions?

Updated 5.8.2017

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