We long for God’s loving presence far more than we realize! His heavenly manna is the only food that satisfies the longings of our souls. Realizing this affects the way we eat — it completely changes our relationship with food. Yes, food!
We were created to live in interactive relationship with Christ in God’s kingdom. His love never fails us (1 Corinthians 13:8). But, sadly, our hearts turn to many false lovers that disappoint and destroy our lives, hurting God, our True Love. One false love that dominates many, many people’s lives today and tempts all of us is food. To cope with pain, stress, tiredness, or loneliness we may use food or other things like alcohol, sexual excitement, achievement, or trying to make people happy.
Instead we need to bring ourselves and our needs to Jesus Christ. Safe relationships with Christ’s ambassadors help us to trust in God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Meditating on Scriptures like these Hungry Heart Scriptures also helps.
What do you Want?
Jesus asks you and I: “What do you want?” (John 1:38). You have a hungry heart, but where are you taking it? This is the key question.
There are many things we may want… If only we’d respond with the desperation that so many people did in his day — screaming out his name, pushing through crowds to touch him, jumping out of trees to follow him, ripping the roofs off houses to sit at his feet!!!
If only we’d bring our hungry heart to Jesus! If only we’d yearn for God as did David and the Psalmists, Paul and John, and, of course, Jesus himself, who often withdrew from people and activity to be alone with Abba in prayer.
I believe that a life devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ as the “one thing” we want is the best life. Sure, discipline is required and there are trials to face. But Jesus is the source of living water. When we give up all to love him we discover over time that our other problems fade away.
One way to focus the longings of our heart on God alone is to meditate on what I call “Hungry Heart Scriptures.” Turn to the great Christ-enthralling passages of the Bible like Matthew 11:25-30, John 1:1-8, Philippians 2:1-11, Colossians 1:15-23, Hebrews 1:1-4, or 1 Peter 2:4-10. Marinate your mind. Harbor God’s words in your heart. You’ll be astonished with the effects!
Let’s start now! I’d like to share with you some of my favorite Bible verses that I use these to point the longings of my soul to God. Praying over these verses will deepen your heart’s desire for God alone and lead you into his presence.
You’d find it especially helpful to memorize and then meditate on these Scriptures while Fasting, using your bodily hunger pangs to remind you to cultivate your spiritual hunger for God. In other words, let your hunger pangs become like church bells calling you to prayer. Whenever you’re hungry for food say to yourself something like, “Jesus, you are my sweetness and sustenance. Your name is like honey on my lips. Your words are the manna that I hunger for.”
In counseling and spiritual mentoring I’ve taught many people to meditate on God’s Word to satisfy their deep longings in Christ alone and they’ve found freedom not only from overeating, but also from lust, selfish ambition, and relying on admiration from people. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Some Hungry Heart Scriptures
(All Bible verses are from the NIV84 unless indicated otherwise.)
“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple… My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek” (Psalm 27:4, 8).
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).
“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” (Psalm 57:8-10).
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:5-8).
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:1-8).
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26-26).
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young — a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you… Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Psalm 84:1-4, 10).
“My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul” (Psalm 108:1).
“My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times… My soul faints with longing for your salvation” (Psalm 119:20, 81).
“I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land” (Psalm 143:6).
“People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God” (Matthew 4:4, NLT).
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat” (Matthew 5:6, MSG).
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray’” (Luke 11:1).
“‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’” (John 4:34).
“‘For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…’ Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry’” (John 6:33, 35a).
“Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Galatians 4:6).
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:7-14).
Praying the Scripture
The point of my sharing these Bible verses with you is to give you some “food for thought.” These are verses to meditate on and to pray through. The best way to begin is to memorize some of them.
This led me to write my “Fasting is Feasting Prayer” which has been so helpful to me! It’s a medley of Scriptures in a prayer to use during a time of fasting — this is a powerful dose of the manna from heaven that your soul longs to feed on!
The combination of fasting and meditation on God’s Word is perhaps the best way to cultivate devotion to the Lord Jesus. Fasting is feasting!