When I lived under law, everything was driven by rules, principles, and duty. My spiritual disciplines were often empty, if not bankrupt, of delight. I remember praying repetitive prayers that sounded an awful lot like the prayers I’d prayed the day before. I remember extending prayer times, as if the length of the prayer made it more spiritual. I remember doing my Bible reading and then walking away asking, “What did I just read?”

To be specific, my personal policies were that I would attempt to read the Bible through every year, witness to at least one person every day, fast once a week, give at least 10% of my income, and pray an hour every day.

But the things that were supposed to give life brought death.

Any work, no matter how good it is in its own right, if performed under law, will sow death and not life (Romans 7:9).

Then I died. I went through the worst wilderness of my life. Depression. Anxiety disorder. The brink of insanity. Uselessness in ministry. Public humiliation. And worst of all, what seemed to be the disappearance of God in my life.

But God was merciful to me and opened my eyes to grace.

When I began to live under grace, all things began to change for me. When it comes to spiritual disciplines, the whole face of my experience was transformed from rigid ritualism to pure passion. I began to see a delight-driven way that was far removed from the lifeless legalism that I’d known.

When under grace, the law does not dictate your course. The Holy Spirit does. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,” says Romans 8:14.

For a time, I had to set my personal disciplines aside because they had become such a self-righteous pursuit. I trusted in them and my work rather Christ and his work. They were death to me. Perhaps I should more accurately say…I was death to me because I trusted in my zeal and works.

Under grace, the Holy Spirit began to restore spiritual disciplines to my life, but all was new and wonderful. Fear and pride were replaced by love. And duty was replaced by delight. That’s what I wanted to communicate to you this round.

God wants us driven by delight–but not merely our delights, mind you. His delight!

When we live under grace and not under law (Romans 6:14), the Holy Spirit places God’s desires in us. Psalm 34:7 shows us this when it says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

This doesn’t mean that God will give you whatever thing you want, but that God will give you your wants! He will give you HIS desires.

This is why we see Scripture often mentioning God’s generosity in fulfilling our desire. The Scriptures presume that it is God’s desires within us that we seek to see fulfilled. They are planted in our hearts by His grace.

“Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.” (Psalm 107:30, emphasis mine)

“Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24, emphasis mine)

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, emphasis mine)

When I saw all this, I began to approach prayer, Bible reading, fasting, and evangelism according to my desire. Here’s how these areas were affected:

Bible Study
I stopped ritualistic Bible reading and I began to study passages that I desired to study. Bible study is like an appetite. If you go to the kitchen at midnight for a snack, you’re going to eat what you want, right? It’s not different with the Bible. What are you hungry to learn about? In my journey through the wilderness, I was starving to learn about God’s grace, so I began to devour passages like Galatians 5 and Romans 8. It was my desire. It was my delight! (I included “Steps to a Delight-Driven Bible Study” from my book Discipleship By Grace at the end of the blog.)

I stopped praying the daily laundry lists and began to pray my desires. C.S. Lewis talked about delight-driven prayer when he said, “We must lay before him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.” On days when I didn’t have a lot of prayer requests, I wouldn’t put pressure on myself to gab at the mouth before God, and would sit in silence or just worship.

Likewise, evangelism, fasting, and financial giving were saturated with the delights of my heart. I want to encourage you to allow your pursuit of God to be delight-driven. Pray your deepest passions and desires. Study what you’re hungry for. Reach out to others when moved by love not law. Give your offerings cheerfully. May you know the joys of being driven by delight.

Steps to “Delight-Driven” Bible Study
1. Choose a verse or passage that interests you.
2. Get a notebook and designate it for Bible Study.
3. Write the passage reference on the top of the first page.
4. Pray David’s Prayer in Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your Law.”
5. Write the first verse on the top of the page.
6. Read enough of the passage to gain the context.
7. Make your personal observations. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you.
8. Study words or phrases that raise questions or interest.
9. Read some commentaries and write anything down that speaks to you.
10. Discuss the passage with your close friends or family. You will naturally begin to meditate on the verse if you study it and it will naturally become a topic of your conversations.
11. Do not move on until you fully understand the entire verse. This may take days or weeks. Don’t feel pressure to move on.

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