As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”
Have you ever felt your relationship with God becoming more detached and unknown as the years pass by? Or maybe you’ve felt it was just stagnant because you realized there was no change in you from the year before, and the year before that. Well, I’ve been there, and it’s a place I don’t want to be. A situation that should be resolved immediately. Our relationship with the Almighty God should grow stronger and stronger in our hearts as we get to know and love Him more and more with each passing day. After all, we don’t want to be considered a lukewarm Christian like the ones in Laodicea. In Revelation 3:15-16 God let them know that He knew their deeds and that they were neither hot nor cold but lukewarm, and so He would vomit them out of His mouth. In that era, cold water suggested a flowing river or spring, and hot water suggested something that had been cooked or cleaned, but lukewarm water was dangerous and worth very little. I don’t ever want God feeling that way about me. That’s why I’m so impressed when I read David’s passion for God in Psalm 42.
Even though it’s easy to see David’s strong desire for God when reading Psalm 42:1-3, you can’t experience the full effect of his passion for God unless you examine the first 8 words – “As the deer pants for the water brooks.” In the original King James Version of the Bible, the “deer” is a “hart” (stag), which is an adult male deer (especially a red deer) over five years old. The metaphor is of a deer that is being chased by his enemies who thirst after his blood. When a deer is completely spent and on the verge of giving up because it no longer has the energy to run, it will desperately seek a running body of water, and as a last-ditch effort, jump into the water, hold it’s breath and sink, while it allows itself to be carried along downstream – unnoticed by its enemies, periodically poking its nose up out of the water ever so slightly just to breathe. Now that’s desperation! Now do you understand how strongly David’s soul thirsted after God? Pursued by his enemies, exhausted and ready to give up, David pants for the living God who gives life and can save him from death. Another reason why he went down in history as being a man after God’s own heart.
As long as we live in this sinful Christ-rejecting world, we too will sometimes find ourselves spent from the heat of life’s struggles and exhausted from the never-ending onslaught of the enemy’s attacks. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that our relationship with the One who died for us and controls our eternal destination is the strongest and most passionate relationship in our lives. Like Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
“How to Increase Your Passion For God” all starts with our relationship with Him and where exactly it stands. Let me give you an example;
I can tell my wife that I love her and even believe it with all my heart, knowing that I would gladly take a bullet for her to save her life. But how does my love show to her? According to Webster’s dictionary and Wikipedia, the word “love” is a verb, which conveys an action (bring, read, walk, run, learn). So if I say that I love her, but I don’t speak to her that often during my day (or week for that matter), and I rarely allow her to tell me what’s on “her” mind or take any advice from her, then according to the above resources, “and the Bible” (John 14:15), I don’t really love her, or even know her that deeply. My love for her would be shallow at best. The only way I can show her that my love is true is to spend lots of time with her while getting to know her innermost deepest thoughts and feelings, and doing everything I can to prove to her that she’s the most important person in my life. Well, that’s exactly how it is with our relationship with God. Greater passion for Him will only increase when we make Jesus and everything concerning Him our number one priority 24/7.
If the answer to “How to Increase Your Passion for God” is making Him the number one priority in your life 24/7, then there are several steps we need to take and things in our lives we need to make a practice of on a regular basis to make this happen. As a matter of fact, if you follow these steps faithfully, your passion for God should increase automatically as it did for me.
Make Prayer a Priority
For the last 26 years of going to church and studying the Bible, I’ve learned the importance of prioritizing prayer in our walk with God. The Bible tells us in Luke 5:16 that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray.” Before calling the 12 apostles, after feeding the 5000 and before He was arrested, tried, and crucified He spent long periods of time in intense prayer. Jesus was a living, walking example of someone who put “prioritizing prayer” at the top of their list. His prayer life made such a powerful impact on the 12 apostles, that the only thing they ever asked Jesus to teach them, was “how to pray” (Luke 11:1). This is exactly where my own passion for God began to increase.
I’ve been working in private security for a number of years, and after being blessed with an answered prayer for a better post, I made a promise to myself to thank God for my new post location every day at work. I work in a small private gated community of multi-million dollar homes overlooking the beautiful valley below. Every day when I begin work, I take the golf cart up to the top of the hill during my patrol and stop for five minutes to thank God for my job and pray about other things. That soon turned into me speaking to the Lord during my 45 minute trip to and from work. From that time on, my communication with the Lord is almost continuous throughout my day. Praying is our way of speaking to God.
Read, Study and Memorize Scripture
The Word of God is alive and powerful, able to pierce deep into our soul and spirit and discern our thoughts and the intents of our heart (Hebrews 4:12). It’s given by the inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God uses the time we spend reading His Word to speak to us and guide us to the truth. To just spend time with us while we get to know Him as He helps us to become more like Jesus. Memorizing Scripture is equally important because it helps us keep the Word of God within us, and always available when we need it. Colossians 3:16 tells us to let the Word of God dwell in us richly. Jesus was our perfect example as He knew it by heart and quoted it often. He used His memory of Scripture against the Sadducees when they tried to trap Him with their words (Matthew 22:23-46), and also against Satan when He was tempted by him in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). That’s why as part of the “Armor of God,” the Word of God is considered the “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:10-18).
Also, by reading, studying and memorizing Scripture, we discover that Jesus considered the most important and greatest commandment in the Bible to be, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:28-30 & Matthew 22:34-40). He also says that if we love Him, not only will we keep His commandments (John 14:15), but they will not be burdensome to us (1 John 5:3). If we want to increase our passion for God, spending quiet time with Him in the Word will help to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).
Transform Your Thoughts
If we want to increase our passion for God, we have to make a daily decision on what we allow in our minds. The things we look at, read, and think of. Every day our minds are bombarded with words, thoughts, and images that cause fear, worry, anger, envy, or lust. Our love for God and what He expects from us must overpower all the worldly bombardment we encounter throughout our day. Philippians 4:8-9 says, “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me – everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” One of the ways that personally helps me to follow this Scripture is to meditate on some of my favorite promises in the Bible for those who follow the Lord. I’ve listed a few of my favorite “promise” Scriptures below.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. (Psalm 112:6-7).
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
And my favorite!
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Doing our best to follow Philippians 4:8-9, and meditating on the promises of God and the unimaginable joy He has waiting for us in heaven, is the best way we can show God we truly love Him above everything and everyone in our lives.
Die to Yourself and Be a Servant
With the constant daily bombardment of every worldly thing we see, hear, taste, or experience, our call to walk with God is not always an easy one. Every time we allow the Lord to intrude on our earthly plans, walk away from a temptation or change direction to obey Him, even when it costs us, we are dying to ourselves. The apostle Paul said “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20). Jesus Himself lays it out for us in Luke 9:23-24 when He boldly stated “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Dying to ourselves and “losing” whatever life we have on this short time on earth, is more than worth it when we think of the glorious life God has “saved” for us with Him, in eternity.
Oh, that’s right, our minds are “incapable” of thinking of the glory He has prepared for us (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Sorry, I had to throw this picture in because it’s so funny 🙂
Anyway, we can’t forget about being a servant. I saved this one for last because it fits with my story. Serving others is always a good way to take our minds off of ourselves and onto the things of Christ. It gave me a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). My job requires me to work odd hours and weekends (although I do attend Sunday morning service before work), and so I was unable to get involved in a church ministry. After praying to the Lord to give me a ministry that would fit with my schedule, while utilizing the talents that He’s given me, the answer came within hours. The idea of a Christian blog-site soon came to mind. And now, I can definitely attribute all the time and effort I put into “Christ Blog” to be the major cause of my increased passion for God. When it came to being a servant, Jesus taught by example when He poured water into a bowl, wrapped a towel around His waist, and washed His disciple’s feet in the upper room, even though He knew He was about to be crucified (John 13:1-17).
As your passion for God increases, you’ll soon realize that everything else is worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8). And even Scriptures you’ve already read, begin to become more real in your heart as you realize you’re a child of God (John 1:12), a friend of Jesus (John 15:15), and God’s elect, chosen by Him, holy and loved (Col. 3:12, & 1 Thes. 1:4). You feel special knowing that you are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17), that the Holy Spirit dwells inside you (1 Cor. 6:19) and you are called His workmanship (Eph. 2:10). Soon, your increased passion for the Lord will find yourself modeling the prayers of King David as you get down on your knees, reach up to the heavens, and cry out, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). And, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24). “How to Increase Your Passion for God” is a desire that all Bible-believing Christians should place at the top of their list. After all, Jesus said that loving Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength is the first and most important commandment in all of Scripture (Matthew 22:37-38).
From This Point On
From this point on I take what’s dear
and count it all as loss.
My passion is to follow You
as You lead me to the cross.
Although I chose to walk with You
so many years ago,
I feel I’ve failed to give my all
and now it’s time to grow.
From this point on please hear my cry
and set my heart on fire.
To love You from the inside out
is all that I desire.
A 1000 times I’ve failed You
but continue in the race.
And should I stumble once again
I’ll still receive Your grace.
From this point on my walk with You
grows stronger than before.
So take my heart and make it clean
so I can give You more.
Please walk me down this narrow path
and guide me with Your rod.
From this point on the world will see
a man who’s called by God.
By Dale Coolbaugh