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How to Pray Effective Prayers #2 (Delight Yourself in the Lord)

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Several years ago, I stood at my kitchen sink talking to God while I washed dishes. With tears streaking my face and total frustration broiling in my heart, I begged God to bring his swift sword of justice against a pastor who had caused excruciating pain in our lives. He had defrauded us out of a large sum of money then went into our community and spread lies about us. Yet he continued to pastor a church with no apparent act of God to make things right.

I just didn’t understand. Confusion wrapped me up and took me down into a pit of despair. So I stood there begging God to do something.

washing bowl

Ever so gently, God reminded me of the extravagant grace he has poured out on me. In my early years, I dirtied myself with huge sins. Every day of my life, I walk around in the intimate knowledge of the grace and freedom God has given me. When I think of what he’s done for me, I’m overcome and undone. I owe him everything. So this reminder struck my heart hard.

God went on to remind me of this: “Lisa, you got off scot-free because of what I’ve done for you. I didn’t destroy you or bring my justice down on you for all the things you’ve done. My son endured that punishment for you because of how much I love you. How can you ask me to bring swift justice on this man when I was so patient with you?”

Darn it! He was so right. How could I? In that moment, my heart – and my prayer – changed. God helped me feel real compassion for this man who had become so lost in his greed. God’s desire is to reconcile and restore this man so I thanked God for his scandalous grace in my life and my desire for justice evaporated.

Psalm 37:4 tells us to “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

This verse can lead to confusion. It implies that if we’re “happy, happy, happy” in him, God will give us whatever we want.

Then really tough times come. Our prayers requesting specific things aren’t answered. What then? We wonder what we’ve done wrong. Or maybe we wonder what’s wrong with God because he isn’t keeping his end of the bargain. Right?

Understanding what that scripture really means will help us pray more effective prayers.

The word “delight” is translated from the Hebrew word “anag” which means “make yourself moldable and pliable”.

When we make ourselves moldable, pliable, and open to God’s leading, he takes his desires and places them in our hearts. Our desires are the desires he births in us.

His desires are intended to move us toward our purpose – and our mission – no matter what challenge or heartache might get in the way.

That scripture doesn’t mean he’s a magic genie who grants every desire of our hearts when we love him.

It means he’s a God who wants immeasurably more for us than we could ever think to ask for ourselves. His highest desire is to mold us into the image of his Son – to give us Christlike character. He is good and wants good things for us. Spiritually good things most of all.

Being moldable and pliable is the right attitude for praying effective prayers. It changes the content of our prayers and lines them up with God’s heart and desires for us.

How have you interpreted this scripture in the past? Will this change the way you pray? Are you moldable and pliable? How often do you pray for spiritual things that lead to Christlike character?


Related post: How to Pray Effective Prayers #1 (Abiding)




  1. Sherri Ohler says:

    Great post Lisa!!! It will definitely have an effect on my prayers. Had no idea that that’s where the word ‘delight’ came from!
    Keep up the blessed work 🙂

  2. Juan says:

    Very true! This is a great example of seeing things through God’s eyes. He loves us so much and He wants all of us to come to Him. Isn’t that amazing? Those whom we consider the worst, detestable, unforgivable, unlovable, scum; God sees as precious. If only we could comprehend the vastness of His love….that would truly be the most beautiful thing ever experienced. Thank you for the reminder! and well done.

  3. LMB says:

    So true! Thank you Juan!

  4. Carole Myer says:

    Wow what a surprise and treat to find your blog! I have quoted from it on a couple of occasions already. I will continue to read and “catch up” …glanced at your single mom posts too. Awesome. I look forward to more insight and sharing.
    Carole Myer

  5. […] How to Pray Effective Prayers #2 (Delight Yourself in the Lord) (mywarminghouse.com) […]

  6. Addie says:

    Googles something and this came up. So needed this today! Thank you.

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