How to Get Your Heart’s Desires

banquet hall

Somedays you don’t get your heart’s desires.

People crowded into the banquet hall at the conference center in anticipation of lunch and filled the seats at tables covered with crisp white cloths. My stomach rumbled while our waiter scurried around with pitchers, filling everyone’s glass with coffee or tea. “Any special dietary restrictions?” he said. My heart’s desire at that moment was to fill my stomach with something delicious.

“Yes.” I raised my hand. “I ordered a gluten-free meal.” A few minutes later he set platters of chicken salad sandwiches in front of my friends, informing me the kitchen was preparing my meal. Later, he refilled everyone’s beverages then whisked away the empty plates and wiped the crumbs off the table. “The kitchen is behind, but they are working on your food.”

Flashing a weak smile at the waiter, I held my hand against my rebelling tummy. “See, the food is coming,” I said, trying to be positive, while my friends regarded me with pity. Imagining a huge salad topped with cheese, avocado, and strips of chicken being set before me, I waited patiently while the waiter passed out cheesecake.

I tasted nothing but regret.

By now my stomach desired food. My heart desired food. Any food. Gluten-free wasn’t necessary. My request to avoid gluten wasn’t due to any food allergies or health problems; I’d only wanted to stay away from too many carbs.


“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 NIV


Psalm 37:4 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. God says he will give me the desires of my heart. He’ll give you the desires of your heart! The Good News Translation of this verse phrases it this way, “Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire.”

Until I heard someone speak about this Psalm, I overlooked the beginning for many years. The first part is as important as the end. Listen to the order. “Take delight in the Lord,” comes at the beginning; then “he will give you the desires of your heart,” comes next.

God has first asked us to take delight in him. How do I seek happiness in the Lord? How do I find my heart’s desires? Get to know him. Nurture a relationship with Jesus as getting to know a friend.

To know Jesus, we can read the Bible and pray for God’s will in our lives. Trusting God with our will takes faith. The time you spend with Jesus will prove to you that he is a worthy friend, your best mentor. The Bible explains God’s character. “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7 NIV He’ll penetrate our thoughts and hearts, which will change our nature. Priorities, as well as focus, will shift.

Setting out to fulfill our desires is not the order of operations. This took me a long time to learn. We may think we have the answers to our heart’s desires, but we must trust God with the outcome. Through Bible study and prayer, our hearts will align with God’s.


We are not alone in this journey. We don’t have to dig deep within ourselves and try to muster the willpower to change or dredge up inner strength alone. Jesus promises his assistance to us as we work toward making our heart’s desires the same as his. He’s promised to help us be faithful. In the book of Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul talks about God’s support.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [that is, separate you from profane and vulgar things, make you pure and whole and undamaged—consecrated to Him—set apart for His purpose]; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete and [be found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful and absolutely trustworthy is He who is calling you [to Himself for your salvation], and He will do it [He will fulfill His call by making you holy, guarding you, watching over you, and protecting you as His own].” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 AMP

Paul speaks confidently because God turned his life around. Paul transformed from being a Christian-hating Pharisee— “breathing out murderous threats to the Lord’s disciples”—to a man God called “his chosen instrument.”


In a Google search on how to gain inner strength, the internet recommended cultivating a growth-mindset, embracing challenges, and practicing self-care and compassion. The only recommendation for strength that didn’t involve completely relying on self was to build a support system. A non-Christian mindset focuses on yourself while a Christian perspective relies on a higher power—God’s power. We need support and God offers the help we need. Not only has he given us the Holy Spirit, but he’s also provided us with the Bible. The Bible provides wisdom and reminders of His promises to buoy our courage. God’s also given us examples of prayer and told us to pray for everything. With God, his Holy Spirit, his word, and prayer, we have a solid support system.

Of course, we aren’t completely without ability. We can achieve accomplishments and change habits. After all, God created us, and we are “wonderfully made.” But our human frailties—fatigue, temptations, loneliness, or bad habits—are a part of the equation and may cause us to waver from our goals. No matter how determined we may be, our strength is not super-human. When we have a resource to provide us with wisdom and power, why wouldn’t we use it? Relying on God’s power to carry us through, despite our weaknesses, is a smart way to confront the positive changes we want to make. God is a reliable support system.


Written long ago, one of Aesop’s Fables is “The Old Man and Death.” From this story, we’ve lifted the phrase, “Be careful what you ask for.” In the story, an elderly man, weary from gathering wood for the winter cries for death to take him. Death shows up and the man realizes he doesn’t want to die and claims he only wanted help with his burden. Death lifts the pile of wood, places it on the old man’s back, and disappears, much to the relief of the man.

old man

The underlying principle in Aesop’s story is to be careful what you ask for because our wishes may come true, and the consequences could be negative. When the man faced death, he didn’t want to die. If we peel back the layers of this story, there’s another principle to ponder—Do we really know what we need? We all have wishes. We have problems, and most of us may think we know the solutions to our problems.


While my lunch friends wiped gooey cheesecake off their lips, the waiter set a sandwich in front of me. No salad. Nothing green or remotely healthy looking. I lifted the bread back to see what was inside this gluten-free concoction. Ham and American sliced cheese on what appeared to be dry, rice flour bread with potato chips on the side. I don’t eat pork. I don’t eat processed cheese. And I gave up potato chips back in college. And carb-loaded bread. My stomach’s desires were too strong not to partake. But believe me, I realized what I thought was the right decision—my desire—was totally off track. I thought a gluten-free lunch was the solution to my low-carb lifestyle, but it wasn’t.

What if there was a solution to our problems that we hadn’t considered? What if our wishes weren’t good for us? If we could see into our future, would we accept the outcome even if it wasn’t what we wanted? God knows what we need. Of course, tell him the desires of your heart. God implores us to pray whatever we’re thinking. “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:8 NIV But always begin the prayer by asking for God’s will in your life.


heart surgery


My dad underwent quintuple heart bypass surgery several years ago. After a bout of shortness of breath and chest pain, he thought he had pneumonia. The doctor discovered he had a heart issue and ordered tests. My dad’s self-diagnosis was totally wrong. He didn’t need an antibiotic to treat his lungs, he needed major surgery for hardening of the arteries. The cardiovascular surgeon cut through his sternum and spread the ribs apart to access his heart.


Change is usually gradual. A change of heart doesn’t often happen as suddenly as it did on Paul’s journey to Damascus or my dad’s heart bypass. But, changing our heart before it becomes hardened and clogged with hate and bitterness, my friends, is possible. With God, all things are possible.

cheesecake is how to get your heart's desire

May God give you the desires of your heart as you delight in the Lord.

Terri Kelly

A former teacher turned writer, Terri B. Kelly, is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband plus one sweet pug in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Visit her at or on Facebook.

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