in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: To Get What You Want, You Must Know What You Want

There’s an interesting dynamic to be observed in the Gospels. 

Often, before Jesus will heal or bless someone, he makes them answer a question: “What do you want?”

This is true when the request someone wishes to make isn’t immediately apparent, as when Jesus is approached by the mother of James and John or when two of the disciples of John the Baptist start following after him. But it’s also true when the thing someone wants is obvious and wouldn’t require omnipotence to figure out, as when Jesus encounters a blind man. Even when Jesus learns that a man has been sick for almost 40 years, before he steps in to help, he asks the man to affirm his intent: “Do you want to get well?”

Perhaps this points to the pattern of prayer; there may be several purposes to that practice, but surely one of them is to get a petitioner to articulate that which can be hidden even from themselves: what it is they want.

Yet this pattern also applies beyond the religious realm.

Many people feel restless and dissatisfied with the current state of their lives. But, when you ask them what a better life would look like, they can’t exactly say. They yearn for something, but aren’t sure what that something is. They don’t like what they do, but don’t know what they’d like to do instead. They long for a change, but can’t articulate what that change should look like. 

Because they want things to be different, but can’t envision what they should be doing differently to get there, their life remains everlasting the same.

It’s been said that faith precedes the miracle. But to bring about any transformation — whether supernatural or everyday — there is something that must precede even that: the crystallization of desire. 

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