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TWO ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS FOR PRAYER: DESIRE & DESPERATION

By Mark Anderson

There is a difference between desire and desperation.  One can desire something and yet not be desperate to have it.  A person who is hungry will desire food, but a person who is starving and hasn’t eaten for days will be desperate.  We as believers can be guilty of allowing the basic principle of ‘desire’ to be undermined.  Many come to prayer with a ‘prayer-list’.  On such a list there are immediate pressing needs – situations which create concern.  Then there are other items on our list which are further down the scale of importance.  Many believers have the mentality that ‘it would be wonderful if God would meet those needs and answer those prayers, but if He doesn’t, I can live with it; they are not life or death issues, but it would be nice if God would take care of them’.  If we have such a mentality, then are we not praying half-heartedly?  Desire is essential in prayer.

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24)

Before a child of God prays, before faith is exhibited and demonstrated, desire must be present.  Prayer and faith stem from that basic root of desire.  Granted not all desires are from God.  The flesh loves to assert itself in craving desires which are tantamount to lust. 

“Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2).

‘Lust’, ‘desire’, ‘obtain’ and ‘ask’ are key words in the above text which need to be considered if the believer is to be effective in prayer.  ‘Lust’ can short-circuit the prayer-request which results in unanswered prayer and disillusions the child of God.  A God-given desire however creates passionate praying which brings about breakthroughs to the glory of God.

Sometimes though, desire must turn to desperation.  At times God places a desire in one’s heart – a burden if you will.  The faithful believer seeks to discharge that burden in prayer and prays faithfully.  After a time though, it seems from his perspective that nothing is happening.  Heaven is silent.  God however is working and intensifies that desire/burden.  It grows stronger and greater and prayer becomes more fervent and passionate.  Yet from man’s perspective – nothing is happening.  Is God playing games?  Is He teasing?  As the child of God stays in faith, desire gives way to desperation.  A cry of desperation gushes out from his innermost being; a release takes place, the burden is discharged and the breakthrough happens.  Could it be that we don’t see some of our prayers answered simply because we are not desperate enough for God to act?  Maybe we have grown comfortable and have learned to live with situations which we do not have to live with.

I see desperation when Jesus disciples were with Him in a boat in the midst of a storm.  Before they sailed, all was calm and as it should be.  There was nothing to indicate to the disciples (some were experienced fishermen) that danger was imminent.  After a while having set sail, a severe storm arose suddenly and without warning.  Their seemingly tranquil world was now being rocked with panic and fear.  Waves were crashing onto the ship and the wind was howling as the storm raged.  Where was Jesus?  He was fast asleep.  It’s important to note that though the disciples were in a severe storm, they were also in the will of God.  It is inconceivable, that these disciples politely and respectfully tip-toed over to Jesus to alert Him to the present danger.  I suspect they ran to the Lord, grabbed Him and shook Him to rouse Him from sleep.  One can almost hear the fear and panic in their voices:

“And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish” (Luke 8:24a).

Jesus calmly rose and rebuked the wind and the waves and the storm ceased.

It’s significant to note that Jesus did not respond to the howling of the wind or the crashing of the waves.  Jesus did not respond to the storm.  Rather, He responded to the disciples and in particular, their waking Him up.  Dear reader, Jesus is not going to respond to your storm – your circumstances.  Instead, He is going to respond to you.  It is faith which pleases God.  Sometimes we need to become desperate as those disciples did.

We as believers long for God to move in power and revive our nation.  I wonder though could it be that God is waiting on us rather than us waiting on Him.  Paul tells the Corinthians to desire Spiritual gifts.[1]  The command ‘desire’ in the greek is ‘zā-lo'-ō’ which means ‘to burn with zeal’ or to be red-hot.  Does that describe us – the body of Christ in our quest for God’s power.  One of the Spirit’s manifestations is the working of miracles and like all the Spirit’s gifts, it is to be in operation and expected until Jesus returns.[2] Why are we not seeing more miracles?  Before we put that question in the pending file and file it away under the sovereignty of God; could it possibly be because we aren’t zealous and desperate enough to expect them.  Have we become content to see God’s healing power limited to back-pains and migraines (I am in no way trivialising or minimizing such ailments as the pain is very real for those who experience them). 

Desire is essential in prayer, but at times it may be necessary to get desperate.  At times we need to move from passive praying to passionate praying.  Let me add a caveat.  The desperation I’ve been referring to is not something fleshly.  You can’t work it up and I would never suggest that someone try to.  If one feels he or she is not desperate enough, then one can call unto God to cultivate that desperation which says ‘enough is enough!’  Let me further caution that in our desperation, one must not lose the need to be discerning.  A starving person might eat anything in that moment of intense hunger. 

It’s time to raise the bar and seek to aspire to greater heights in our walk with God and may 2014 be the year that this happens.


[1] 1 Corinthians 14:1.

[2] Ibid, 1:7.





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