Take a moment and imagine that you’ve just come back from a long run. It’s the middle of August in Austin, Texas. You pushed yourself and ran for a mile longer than you intended. You’re hot and you’re exhausted and you feel like you might just drop dead any second.
Then you go inside your house, you walk to the kitchen, and, still breathing hard and dripping with sweat, you pour yourself a big glass of cold water. You take that first gulp and it’s perfect. It’s exactly what you wanted. It satisfies you.
The Emptiness Inside of Us
Today, I’m going to write about an aspect of prayer that the Lord has been teaching me a lot about lately: the importance of fully satisfying ourselves in the Lord. We often talk about supplication, about praise, about thanking the Lord, but I think we rarely talk about the simple importance of seeking Jesus in intimacy and satisfying ourselves in Him—with no goal in our prayer other than enjoying the Lord and drawing close to Him.
Before we can learn to satisfy ourselves in the Lord, we have to admit that we aren’t satisfied. Living in America, where we theoretically have every earthly need met, we think we should feel satisfied and content and whole. But we don’t, and it’s embarrassing, but we need more.
The Lord created us with a yearning inside of our hearts. Ecclesiastes tells us that “He has set eternity on the hearts of men.” Because of the fall, because sin entered the world, we were born into sin, born into brokenness. In a sense, we were born into emptiness. From an early age, I remember feeling not quite whole. Like something was missing. I think this is a feeling all of us can relate to, though we don’t often like to admit it or talk about it or stare it in the face.
We feel that emptiness and we search high and low for something to satisfy it. For me, I seek satisfaction in my intelligence, in success, in my physical appearance, in what guys think of me, in being funny, in being likable, even in being a “good” Christian. I constantly go back to these dry wells, seeking fulfillment and joy, but these things will never fully satisfy because I was created to only be satisfied by the Lord because God set eternity, set the desire for Him, on my heart. I was created so that nothing else would make me feel whole. But for some silly reason, I keep going back to what does not satisfy.
Drink Wine and Milk Without Cost
Isaiah 55: 1-3 says, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters, and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
Here the Lord promises us that He’ll satisfy us. We’re thirsty, but He’ll give us something to drink! In fact, He’ll give us something to drink that won’t cost us a thing. But even though He’s offering us a free, perfect, thirst-quenching drink that will satisfy our soul, we instead keep going back to spend money on things that won’t satisfy.
We often think that being a Christian means giving up stuff. We talk about taking up our cross daily, about humbling ourselves in obedience to the Lord, about offering our bodies as living sacrifices, and these seem like negative things. We think it means we can’t have fun, we can’t live for ourselves, we can’t get drunk, or do drugs, or have sex, or live recklessly like those around us. We focus on what we CAN’T do. But Jesus came so that we, His children, could live life to the fullest. John 10:10 tells us “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus is offering us the full life we truly seek. The satisfaction and fun and wholeness we desire, and have desired since birth, can only be found in Him. Since our desire for satisfaction is so often displaced onto other things (often, sin), we must recognize the yearning of our heart and feed it with what it needs. Jesus offers us joy that will fill our emptiness. He offers us satisfaction. He tells us to delight our souls in the richest of fare.
I think that growing up surrounded by American Christianity, we tend to think that Jesus is very far away from us. I think it’s hard for us to seek satisfaction in the Lord because we don’t know how to really delight ourselves in Him, because sometimes seeking intimacy in prayer is hard.
For a lot of my life, I struggled believing that the Lord really cared about me and delighted in me. I knew in my head that God loved me. That was clear to me. But at the end of the day, at the bottom of my heart, I didn’t think God really liked me. I was amazed by everything Jesus did for me that I couldn’t fathom why He would want to do any more. I couldn’t fathom why He would want to take care of or satisfy little old me.
This is a lie that the Lord has been breaking me of, teaching me that He cares for me in an intimate way. Last spring, one of my friends was praying over me and she told me that the Lord gave her a picture of me in a pastry shop. She told me that she thought God was telling me that I so often tried to sustain myself on the meat and potatoes of my faith, that I want God to teach me the big things and the hard things. And that’s good, He wants to feed me meat and potatoes. But sometimes, He just wants to feed me pastries. He wants to satisfy me and He wants to delight me.
I encourage everyone to make satisfying yourself in the Lord a new goal of your prayer life. Spend time enjoying the Lord! Wake up early and watch the sunrise, hike to a beautiful place and enjoy the view, get really silly and fun and carefree in worship. Do all these things with your heart focused on the Lord and He will satisfy you. Think back to the perfect cold drink of water. That tasty pastry. Satisfy yourself in Jesus and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.