Having a heart for God is something we often pray for, hear sermons on, think about, long for, and read about in the Psalms (27:4; 42:1-2; 84:1-4). But what does this look like? What does a “heart for God” look like practically? Allow me to submit five (5) practical items that indicate a heart for God (main points excerpted from Paul Tripp’s book “Age of Opportunity”).
1) Personal Worship & Devotion – When we have a genuine heart for God there will be a fervent desire to spend personal time with God. This type of fellowship happens primarily through studying His Word and in prayer. A Christian who is submitted to God will independently make time for personal worship and devotion. James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
2) Desire for Corporate Worship & Instruction – When the weekend approaches what is usually our first thought or reaction about going to church? When we are genuinely pursuing God we will crave, first, for corporate worship, because that is where we can express love and thanksgiving to God for His person and work with people who share the same desire. Psalm 96:7-9, “Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.”
Secondly, we will long for church on Sunday because of the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Christians who have a heart for God are hungry and thirsty for solid Biblical instruction and joyfully embrace it rather than looking for ways to avoid it. On a side note, doctrine (biblical instruction) determines how we live our daily life (practical application). For example, you won’t live by faith unless you know God is faithful and trustworthy. 1 Timothy 3:15, “…the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
3) Pursuit for Christian Fellowship – When we have heart for God we will want to spend quality time with others who share the same faith. Christian fellowship is where we can receive help, counsel, friendships, accountability, and encouragement. Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
4) Willing to Discuss Spiritual Matters – Many Christians are closed, defensive, insecure, embarrassed, and unwilling to discuss spiritual needs or things because they don’t see the importance of following God’s will, parental guidance, or spending time in prayer about life matters. When we have a heart for God we will be humble, open, transparent, and willing to discuss spiritual matters with God, our parents, our pastor, or spiritual mentor. Proverbs 11:14, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.”
5) Approaches Decision-making from a Biblical Perspective – Everyday we are faced with many small decisions that eventually add up to big results! When we have a heart for God we will approach decision making from a biblical perspective rather than an impulsive, emotional, and self-pleasing point of view. Every decision we make ought to point to God’s glory somehow. Establishing this mind-set is tough, but by God’s sufficient grace is obtainable. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
We have many dreams, hopes, wishes, plans, ideas, goals, or visions for our life or for someone else’s life. Many times we get so focused on pursuing so many different things or trying to please various people we fail to develop a heart for God. Is your highest mission in life to develop a heart for God? A heart for God is the root that produces long term fruit of godliness!
Note to Parents: Do you see these items present in the life of your teenager/child? If not, then perhaps a lot of their spirituality is false and they are waiting till the pressures of being religious are removed to show their true colors. Most likely they have learned this “form of Christianity” from you (Deut. 6:1-9).