Psalm 37 gives us a promise:
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
We hear messages in this world telling us to follow our dreams, to follow our heart, to do more of what makes us happy.
Read the wrong way, this verse could seem to be telling us the same thing. And there are those other verses about asking Jesus for anything, and Him promising to give it, that read the wrong way could seem to be telling us the same thing.
But the problem with that thinking is that it’s all about us. It’s all about our dreams, our hearts wishes, what makes us happy.
Surrounding this verse from Psalm 37, there are other verses in which we are called to commit to the Lord, to trust in the Lord, to wait on the Lord. (vv. 3-7)
The command given before the promise in Psalm 37 isn’t to follow our dreams, but to delight in the Lord.
There is nothing wrong with having dreams and with pursuing those dreams as God leads. But if we don’t keep Jesus first, if we’re focused on the granting of desires and not on delighting in the Lord, we can easily become selfish about our dreams, more focused on them than on the One who placed them in our hearts for His glory. Following Jesus can become about getting what we want, rather than getting to know Him.
I have dreams in my heart; dreams I believe God gave me for a purpose. I want to pray for my dreams to come true and my desires to be fulfilled. But I also don’t want to be selfish. I want the desires of my heart to be the same as the desires of God’s heart.
There is a tension; a tension of praying with faith for our dreams to come true, but also trusting God’s timing and plan. A tension of having desires, but not allowing them to overtake our desire for Jesus. A tension of holding onto our dreams with hope, but also surrendering our dreams to God.
How do we pray in this tension? How do we pray for our dreams and desires in a way that keeps Jesus first, delighting in Him and giving Him delight?
Pray with open heart and open hands
When we pray for our dreams and desires, are holding onto them with closed fists, telling God our plan and expecting Him to comply? Or, are we presenting them to Him with open hands, asking Him to work and bring them about according to His timing and plan, even though it may (and probably will) look different than ours?
Rather than holding on tightly with closed fists, we must hold our dreams with open hands in surrender and trust.
Yes, surrendering may mean things don’t happen like we wanted. It may mean we never see a dream realized. But surrender also means that God will work for our good. It means God will carry out His purposes for us. It means God will do more than we could ever ask or imagine or dream in our wildest dreams.
Do I trust that God’s dreams for me are better than my own dreams for myself? Do I trust that God is far more able to bring about good in my life than I am?
There is something really powerful about praying God’s Word, because God’s Word is powerful; it teaches us about God and His will and how we live in relationship with Him, equipping us to do what He calls us to do. So praying Scriptures helps us know how to pray about our dreams, giving us words when we maybe don’t know what to say, and it helps us discern God’s purpose and leading for us in our dreams.
Pray with praise
As we pray for the dreams and desires that have yet to be fulfilled, let’s not forget to praise and thank God for all He has already done in our lives; for all the ways He has provided and blessed and helped and saved.
Praising while we pray helps us stay focused on Jesus and recognize His goodness, and it acknowledges Him as Sovereign Lord in our lives.
Pray in Jesus’ Name
There are places in Scripture where Jesus tells us that whatever we ask for in His Name, we will receive. (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24)
In Bible times, a person’s name was connected to their character. So when the Bible speaks of God’s Name, it is talking about His character; about who He is not just in title, but in identity. Praying for our dreams and desires in Jesus’ Name means praying according to His character and will, and allowing our dreams to be shaped by His character and will.
In these Scriptures where Jesus’ talks of asking in His Name, it is implied that there is relationship with Jesus happening. Because in order to pray according to Jesus’ character and will, we need to get to know Jesus and His will for us.
Pray for others
The dreams God gives us are never just about us. He gives us dreams to pursue so we can know Him more and so we can share Him with others. When we pray for our dreams, lets pray for others and their dreams as well.
This also protects us from being self-focused in pursuing our dreams, and from becoming jealous as we see other’s dreams coming true while we are still waiting.
An important part of prayer, one that we often forget, is listening to God’s voice. There may be dreams that we want to pursue, but God is saying wait. We may think we know the next step to take, but God is calling us in a different direction. We may have dreams for ourselves, but God is wanting to speak different ones into our hearts and lives.
As we pray for our dreams and desires, we must make time to be still and silent, listening to Jesus.