Do We Need God or Want God? There’s a Difference

Our desire to pray is directly connected to our need for God. When I do not pray, I am deceiving myself that somehow I am sufficient apart from God. Now, most Christians would never say they are sufficient apart from God. But the reality is their actions (or lack of actions when it comes to prayer) often reveal something very different.

In Psalm 63, David gives us a picture of what it means to truly recognize that we were created to need God. In verse 1 he writes these words, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

David begins with: “God, you are my God.” That may seem like a funny thing to say. But David lived in a world in which foreign nations worshiped many “gods”. And David is coming before God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and he is saying, “you, God of Israel, you who have revealed yourself as the one true God, you are my God”

And he is not just saying when I go to church on Sundays, you are the God I worship. He is saying you are the God that defines my life. You are my truth, my joy, my hope, and my salvation. And my commitment is to you and you alone.

The first step in a husband and wife developing true intimacy with each other is when a husband and wife make a commitment to only be committed to each other. I can’t truly have intimacy with my wife Anne if at the same time I am also giving my heart to another woman.

David is coming before the God of Israel and saying, “I am fully yours. And because of that you are who I pursue.”

David continues in verses 1 and writes, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you.”

The word earnestly literally means “early”.  David is saying “You are the first thing I pursue when I get up.” It is a word that has a sense of importance and priority. I put you before all things. This is how intimacy is developed–making someone your first priority. That is what David is saying and doing with His relationship God.

Intimacy is lost in a marriage relationship when the wife no longer becomes the priority of the husband or the husband no longer becomes the priority of the wife. The children become the priority. The job becomes the priority. The ministry becomes the priority. And the marriage begins to drift.

What David is saying in verse 1 is God you are my priority. And the reason is because he recognizes that his life can only be satisfied in God.

David is using language that is sometimes foreign to us. We talk about needing God but I think sometimes that is more religious language then true recognition that apart from God we can do nothing. David knows that in his life he has a thirst, he has a hunger that can only be satisfied in God and God alone.

And that thirst and hunger leads him to pursue communion with God in prayer not because that is what good religious people do but because his life depends on it.

I believe one of the reasons so few Christians and so few churches truly commit themselves to prayer is because they do not truly recognize that they have a life-giving need for God.

Too often, what we have really developed is a want for God. The “wants” in our life are the additional things beyond our needs that we hope make our life better. I want a better house. I want a better job. I want better health. I want some aspect of my life to be better.

There is nothing wrong with wants. And there is nothing wrong with bringing our wants before God. The challenge is when we view ourselves as in control of our needs and only bring our wants before God.

Too often we have a want for God that leads to an occasional half-hearted prayer instead of a need for God that leads to a place of continual, life-dependent prayer. David isn’t throwing up a half-hearted request but a life-saving cry. “My soul thirsts for you.”

Are you praying to fix some aspect of your life or do you pray because you recognize that God is life.

Psalm 42:1, says “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”

By comparing the deer’s thirst for water to a person’s thirst for God the psalmist is saying., “God, you are not the dessert of my life after I have had my fill of meat. But rather you are the very thing that sustains me.

The challenge for today’s Christian is that we have made God an add-on. We have made God secondary. We don’t view God as oxygen. We view him as a health supplement.

A question for us is: Do I live my life looking for God to meet the needs I cannot meet on my own or do I live my life recognizing that God is my need.

If God is my need then I earnestly seeking Him. I seek him with urgency. I seek him with priority. Spending time in communion with him through prayer shouldn’t be a small part of my day nor is it something that I try to fit in. But I pursue communion with Him as if my life depends on it. Why? Because my life depends on it.

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