Was Augustine right about our desire for God?

Photo credit: Evelyn Parham / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Evelyn Parham / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Here’s some insight from Augustine of Hippo nearly two millennia ago that fits with my book’s topic.  For those who worry that your desire for God is non-existent, check out his thoughts paraphrased by Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe:

Although we long for God, we do not realize it at first.  All we can do is prepare for him by properly orienting one element of our earthly life: our will.  Committing to knowing God and how he works means we must . . .

. . . create habits that incline us to look for him.  When we are taught how to look for God through reason and are protected through morality from distraction in our search, we can anticipate a visit from God.

Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion, p. 27

Cover of "Longing for God: Seven Paths of...

Cover via Amazon

I totally get what he’s saying.  Our will is a key element in our spiritual pursuits.  But, is he saying that we can’t make ourselves desire God more, but we can prepare our hearts to allow God to make it so in us?  If so, that means that God puts in us the ability to desire him. So it’s not really our desire, but his, right?

One thing is for sure: unless we’re intentional about how we go about the quest for life to the fullest extent, it will not happen.  We will succumb to distraction.

However, I’m not sure I’d characterize all distractions as being immoral. Love for my family could distract me from my search for God, for instance, but the love itself isn’t immoral.  Maybe that’s not what is being said in the last sentence.

I have some thoughts, but I’d love to hear yours first.


4 thoughts on “Was Augustine right about our desire for God?

  1. I think everyone of us have good intentions to live for God and really love Him with heart, mind and soul. The spirit is willing but if you’re like me, many times the flesh is weak. I really believe that “it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” However, if we do not respond to his wooings or create atmospheres conducive for spiritual pursuits or engage in spiritual disciplines, we will be distracted every step of the way.

  2. Ahhh. Great verse to nail down that it is indeed God who gives us the desire and ability to please him. But, it also requires our response. He doesn’t just lay it on us with out at least some participation by us. Thanks Walter!

  3. Aha! Well said, Lori.

    The question remains, though: does it please him to require us to prepare our hearts for greater revelation before he grants it to us? (Or, maybe that’s not at all what you’re getting at.)

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