Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…( James 4:8)
Our desires are created by our focus. Whatever we place our attention on pulls us in that direction. When I was a boy, I looked regularly at the toy section of several large catalogs from stores like Sears and JCPenney. There was no internet, so everything was hard copy. I looked at toys so much that I bombarded my mom and dad with requests for the latest new toys. My attention created desire.
People love to hunt and fish, play sports, work out, ride motorcycles, play online games, garden, etc. Where does the desire come from? The more attention given to a certain thing, the more desire is created for it. It is just part of being human.
We can take the principle of desires following attention to our spiritual life and it will help us. I learned this truth during a time of personal struggle way back in 1982.
The previous year I had taken a volunteer position as an associate pastor in a small church. I had taken this position after just graduating from one of the Bible schools I attended. I later realized that I had missed God’s best. The experience left me empty and disappointed. I didn’t want to read my Bible, or pray, and I struggled with my feelings every time I went to church. Spiritual activity reminded me of my pain.
After this experience, I had moved back to Tulsa and was working and attending a local church. And I was struggling spiritually. A guest speaker at the church I attended made a statement that grabbed me. He said, what you have a desire for is determined by where you place your attention. Desire follows attention.
I felt wasted spiritually and I knew that I must act quickly or I would get worse. I determined that I would sit down at my desk at home daily with my tape player (cassette tapes were the thing back then), my Bible, and a notepad. I wanted my spiritual desires back. This was a way to take my attention there.
I bought the tapes of the services at my church as well as a few tape series. I forced myself to sit down and listen to the tapes, taking notes and looking up the verses mentioned. I had no desire to do this. I did it out of desperation. And it was a struggle every day. But I persisted in spending a couple of hours a day listening, reading, and taking notes. It was hard to do.
But, a few weeks later I was amazed as I woke up one day with a desire to read my Bible and pray! I had created a desire for spiritual things by placing my focus on them. My zeal for God was renewed and I got back on track spiritually. This principle has helped me through the years to keep my spiritual stamina strong. Spiritual desire is preceded by attention on spiritual things. It’s just the way we are.
Make yourself focus on spiritual things every day. Spend time with God reading the word slowly. Regardless of how you feel, force yourself past your feelings. Then spend some time praying. Do it a little bit everyday. Before long, you’ll find your hunger for God growing. It’s a never failing principle. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you! Desire follows attention!