The Bible says in Psalms 37:4:
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Before we begin to answer the question, I would like to clear some things up first. God gives you the desires of your heart. He does not give you your heart’s desire.
Jeremiah 17:9 says:
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Our heart can desire after some pretty wicked stuff, and God does not give us wicked desires to desire after! If he gave us wicked desires to desire after, then we would surely not accomplish his plans and purposes for our lives. Wicked desires lead us astray from where God wants us to be.
God gives you the actual desire. He places that desire in your heart. You desire that thing because he has given it to you.
So back to the original question: How do I know if the desires of my heart are from God?
1) It’s big and it’s mysterious.
God doesn’t give us small desires. He gives us desires bigger than ourselves—bigger than our lives. Often times, it’s something that makes us a little uncomfortable to think about because it seems impossible.
Because of that, it’s mysterious. You ask, “Lord, how can this thing which I desire ever be?” We don’t see the solution to it through our human eyes.
In Isaiah 55:8-9, we read:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
God does things outside of our thinking and our understanding. No matter if it’s building an ark, freeing a nation from slavery, building him a temple, or building a wall around a city, God’s desire will challenge us on every level, which leads us to our second point.
2) It requires faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Your desire that you’ve been given by God is both “things hoped for” and “things not seen.” If you already had the “things hoped for” and the “things not seen,” then you wouldn’t need faith.
Faith is both the “substance” and the “evidence” of “things hoped for” and “things not seen.” You simply have faith that whatever desire is in your heart WILL happen: Someday. Someway. Sometime.
Remember: Faith is a substance, and a substance can be measured. How do we measure faith? By our faithfulness. Whatever we put our faith into the most, we will be most faithful too.
If God’s placed a desire in your heart you will want to be faithful to that desire and not chase after all the other desires that your heart already has.
You don’t need to ask God for more faith. Romans 12:3 says that he has already given every man a measure of faith. 1 Peter 1:3 says that “…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” You’ve got all the faith you need. Use it!
3) It requires patience.
Hebrews 6:12 says, “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
We know that we need faith, but we also need patience. It’s not going to happen overnight. It will happen in God’s timing.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, it speaks of everything having it’s time. Everything has a season. One season can’t begin until the previous one ends. We have to wait on God because it’s his seasons, not ours.
We have to be strong, and we can’t give in to the temptation to make it happen on our own—because we are anxious! We have to be patient and wait for God’s timing. If not, we can ruin the whole thing. Our desire that God’s placed in our heart will never come to pass.
4) It requires hard work.
When you read James 2:14-26 there’s one thing that you’re going to see over and over again in that passage: Faith without works is dead.
That desire that God has given you is not going to be easy to obtain. You are going to have to work hard at it. The promise in Psalm 37:4 is that God will place the desire in you, not literally give you the desire.
Now, I’m not saying that he won’t literally give you the desire, but more often than not you will have to work for it.
In Genesis 29:1-30, we read how Jacob ended up getting married. God had placed a desire in his heart to marry Rachel. He goes to Rachel’s dad, Laban, and asks to marry her. Laban tells Jacob that if he works for him for seven years then he can marry her.
So Jacob works hard for seven years for Rachel. The day finally arrives. Laban brings his daughter in to marry Jacob, and when morning comes Jacob discovers that he actually married the wrong daughter! He married Rachel’s older sister Leah instead.
What does Jacob do? He works another seven years for Laban so that he can marry Rachel.
So it’s going to faith, patience, and a lot of hard work. Don’t give up!
5) He will give you vision for it.
Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
If God places a desire in your heart then it’s a part of his plan, which means he has plans for it.
Pray and ask God for those plans. He gave Noah plans. He gave Moses plans. He gave King David plans. He will give you his plans to accomplish the desire that he has placed in your heart.
Habakkuk 2:2 says, “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”
The vision that God gives you is the plan. Write it down and make it plain. Write it down just as God gives it to you. Don’t try to add your own two cents. Keep it simple so that you may run with it and follow it as God has given it to you.
6) He will give you provision for it.
If God has given you the vision, he will provide for that vision. That’s what PROVISION is: Pro(vide for the)vision.
Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
So far God has provided you with: a) the desire—He placed that desire in your heart. He’s already given you b) the faith you need. Likewise, c) patience is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. If you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, then you already have that. He has also given you d) the vision for it.
What makes you think He won’t give you e) f) and g)?
Last but not least:
7) He will give you peace about it.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The peace that passes all understanding isn’t mental. It’s spiritual.
Your mind can still be going crazy, yet there’s a peace in your spirit about it that makes absolutely no sense to your mind.
If the desire that you have in your heart is not of God, then you will have no peace in your spirit about it. The Holy Spirit will not allow you to have peace about doing something that is not of God.
Your mind will. Romans 8:7 tells us that our carnal minds are at “enmity” against God, which means to be an enemy of God. So your mind cannot have peace when it’s not of God, because it’s the carnal mind’s plan and not God’s.
Likewise, as we read earlier in Jeremiah 17:9 where it says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” We can have peace in our heart about something, but not even that is trustworthy.
So to finally answer the question: How do I know if the desires of my heart are from God?
The answer is: We have to have peace in our Spirit to truly know if it’s of God or not. If the peace that passes all understanding is not there, then it’s not of God.
Photo by Bryce Bradford via Flickr