Desire is the beginning and the basis of prayer. We cannot pray at all without desire. Now if you want to really deepen your prayer life, you must deepen your desire in prayer. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Pray for desire. Since prayers are somewhat meaningless without desire, if you have just a little desire, I think it would be wise to focus that desire in praying for more desire. While you are praying you may discover that your lack of desire is even worse than you thought—because you may not feel much like praying at all, for anything! If that’s the case, it may be that God is already at work in you to answer your prayer. He is creating in you what is necessary to have desire—recognition of your need, which is your first step to achieve it.
Your next step is to focus your prayers on your lack of desire. Ask God why you lack it, and cry out for it with as much desire as you can muster! Seek it strongly, for seeking is in itself (as we discussed earlier) a type of desire and prayer. Here are two wonderful verses you can pray over as you seek to desire God:
…You will seek the Lord your God and find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
1 Chronicles 16:11-12
Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore. Remember His marvelous works which He has done…
2. Abide in the Word. Along with prayer, desire is developed by abiding in the Word. We can’t expect to gain desire for God or for prayer without having a regular intake of His Word. As Job, we must treasure the scriptures, the words of His mouth, more than our daily bread (Job 23:12).
3. Observe the needy. Some types of desire will be stirred in us by observing the needy, particularly multitudes in need. The desire I am speaking of is the desire of compassion. This desire will be the prime mover of prayer burdens God puts on your heart. If you really want to have a desire to pray for others, especially for those with great need, make yourself aware of the huge numbers of people all over the world that are suffering.
4. Separate yourself from the world. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me…” This seems pretty harsh, but it is actually the key to deepening our desire for Him, because when we deny ourselves, that is, when we deny our old, selfish self, He gives us a new desire and satisfaction for the new life and for God—“…whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” This life Jesus is speaking of is full of spiritual delights, with joys beyond comprehension. Let us not desire and love the world or anything in the world. Then the desire and love of the Father will grow strong in us (1 Jn. 2:15).
5. Fast. Fasting will help you develop and deepen your desire for God and for prayer like nothing else—because usually when we fast we are expressing to God that we want Him (as He wants us) more than anything else—more than food or drink, and more than any other physical pleasure. It is saying to God, “I want to find Your will.” Likewise, fasting helps one to be sensitive to the things of the Spirit, and it prepares the heart to gain a deeper hunger for God.