What Do You Want From God?

This may seem an entirely innocuous question. But I ask it in earnest. What do you want from God? On the level of the trite, we may want more of what we already have, but have it in abundance. We may want less of what we have, only have it in a healthy manner (relationships come to mind).

What is more difficult, for the heart, and for the spiritual life in general is to say: “I want God, and more of Him.” This is the statement of someone who has tasted of the heavenly gift and cannot be satisfied with less. It is rare.

Though it is rare, it is the common confession of the saints.

What do you want? Is there some degree to which you want God? With what degree of desire do you approach the Holy Cup? Do you want God?

Do I want God even though it may kill me?

Do I want God even though the “me” that I am may be swallowed up in something larger?

Do I want God even though it may cause me deep and life-long grief?

There are many of things we may want from God – but it is God Himself our heart desires. And though the cost of that may appear to be everything – as it should be – do we want anything less? Anything less is to dwell outside of the Kingdom.

What do you want from God?

One response, posted on another site, seemed worth adding to the text of this posting:

What struck me most about this is those “negative” things will happen whether we seek God or not. We will have deep and life-long grief in our lives, Christian or non-Christian, weak or strong. Grief will come. The “me that I am” will be swallowed up in something larger, whether it is torment or blessing. We will die, whether we seek God or flee Him.

Christianity does not keep us from suffering. Sometimes we suffer more. But it is certain that Christianity will not keep disease and death at bay. Even with the miraculous recovery, the holy healing that could come, the grave awaits eventually.

No, we cannot escape these things, and so we should not fear asking God for Himself, seeking the Kingdom and His Righteousness. For in this we gain everything, even while we lose the present.

By Christopher Hall at The Other Side of the Pulpit

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.



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18 responses to “What Do You Want From God?”

  1. Diakrisis Logismon Avatar

    O Lord, make me more human, by my striving to become more Godlike …

    O Lord of hosts, hearken unto my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob. O God, our defender, behold, and look upon the face of Thine anointed one. For better is one day in Thy courts than thousands elsewhere. I have chosen rather to be an outcast in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of sinners. For the Lord loveth mercy and truth, God will give grace and glory; the Lord will not withhold good things from them that walk in innocence.

    St. Justin of Serbia speaking of (and quoting) St. Isaac the Syrian says:

    Knowledge bears within itself an irresistible pull towards the infinite mystery, and this hunger for truth that is instinctive to human knowledge is never satisfied until eternal and absolute Truth itself becomes the substance of human knowledge until knowledge, in its own self-perception, acquires the perception of God, and in its own self knowledge comes to the knowledge of God. But this is given to man only by Christ, the God-Man, he who is the only incarnation and personification of eternal truth in the world of human realities. When a man has received the God-Man into himself, as the soul of his soul and the life of his life, then that man is constantly filled with the knowledge of eternal truth.

    Holy knowledge comes from a holy life, but pride darkens that holy knowledge. The light of truth increases and decreases according to a man’s way of life. Terrible temptations fall upon those who seek to live a spiritual life. The ascetic of faith must therefore pass through great sufferings and misfortunes in order to come to knowledge of the truth.

  2. Katarina Avatar

    Excellent post, Father. I’ve been struggling recently with wanting things from God–happiness, love, etc.–but I had a realization the other day (while madly writing a poem that attempted to explain my own confusion to myself) that I’m only hiding in these small, human things as I escape from He Who is all Reality and all the Love I could ever imagine.

  3. Lucias Avatar


    I want to know God and I want to be with him in Eternity. I want to find truth among the error. I wish to deliver to him my entire family. I want the strength to face what I must here on the present earth. Beyond that I pray for peace, happiness, contentment for my nation, my family and myself but I know that those may or may not be part of what God has in store for me.

    One of the things I like about the Orthodox is the place that suffering has within the faith. Its not about a prayer request which doubles as a Christmas wish list. It sees trouble, knows trouble, and perseveres.

    “Do I want God even though it may cause me deep and life-long grief?”

    It already has. The details matter not. So far God has led me, though I am horribly sinful and unworthy. May I have the courage to keep following and, as you say Father, “Heal my heart”.



  4. Margaret Avatar

    Fr. Stephen, thank you so much for this post! It is excellent for me to think upon this and I know that it is in deed God that I NEED, but it has and it is taking me my lifetime to see that it is God that I WANT. I like the question here: Is there some degree in which you want God? My heart is seeing that there has been and often there is “some degree” but that is foolishness and the only reality is in my heart saying “I want God and more of Him.”

    I am so thankful for the Orthodox faith that encourages this prayer, this attitude toward God, it is the only real and truthful attitude, whether I ever fully acquire it or not.

    The struggle I have is often a false one and that is “to want God and more of him is equal to physical death” and by that I mean that I do struggle with the idea that as I want God, that longing and wanting cannot be fulfilled in my earthly body. Again I am thankful for the Orthodox Church and the saints whose lives reflect theosis and the striving toward theosis. More than anything I am thankful for the attitude toward prayer and Our Lord as the lover of mankind.

    May God continue to bless all you do!

  5. PD Avatar

    I have no idea. I know that, like everyone, I hurt, am lonely and confused, and have an intense longing for…something, and I want Someone to make it better. I read so many lofty thoughts from people; I guess I’m just not there yet. I just want to not WANT anymore. I seem to sort of lurk around God because I like His friends.

  6. […] 28, 2008 · No Comments Father Stephen asks an interesting question about whether or not we even want to know […]

  7. elizabeth Avatar

    my spiritual father has asked us the same question in his homilies. He reminds us again and again that God is gentle and will not force His way into our lives or our hearts.

    Yesterday was the Feast of the Holy Cross Old Calendar and he reminded us that we are called to have every part of our life be part of Christ and have Christ involved and influencing every thing.

    I want (or I want to want) to learn to have an open and willing heart so that I can receive what God seeks to give…

  8. Steve Avatar

    PD, know that you are not alone and people are praying for you. I have been there, too. It is not an easy road, though.

  9. Graham Cochenet Avatar
    Graham Cochenet

    Signifcance and acceptance would be a good start.
    I think enough holiness so that the realationship
    whould seem more real would also help.

  10. Dawid S Avatar
    Dawid S

    Thankyou for asking this challenging question.

    A short quote, attributed to St Augustine, comes to mind which I came across recently.

    ‘God thirsts to be thirsted after”

  11. Malorie/Natalia Avatar

    Father, thank you for this. I’m bookmarking it as well.

  12. jim Avatar

    Well said, Father. What you say is such a contrast to those who follow Christ only as a means to get blest.

  13. […] What Do You Want From God by fatherstephen Tags: Crisis, Faith, God, Money […]

  14. Mary in Tennessee Avatar
    Mary in Tennessee

    I want joy and peace of mind. I know I may have to drink the Cup down to the dregs to get there and, frankly, I don’t want to. But I don’t see any other way through, except avoidance. And avoidance won’t get me there.

  15. David Avatar

    I don’t know what I want from God.

    I don’t think it’s possible to know that. Not to insult the Saints, but I think they didn’t know either. When you say, “I want more of God” you don’t really know what your asking for. No matter how much you know God already the part of God you don’t know is just that… UNKNOWN.

    What you do is go on faith that the yet unrevealed God is better than what you have already come to know. Such faith comes from the “hope of things unseen.”

    Every day is a step out into the unknown when we are actively engaged in relationship with the Other. This is no different than with my wife, every day I leave for work on faith that she’ll be home when I return. Or my spiritual father, every confession (the kind a catechumen makes) is a terrifying exchange of new ground for our relationship.

    I have no idea what God has for me today, and far less tomorrow. But where else would I go? To whom would I turn? It doesn’t matter if following God costs me everything because without Him I have nothing anyway. I am empty, lost in non-existence. He is the foundation of all that is. Either this works out, or there is nothing but darkness.

    So I pray because nothing else will come out of my mouth. I attend services because my car drives me to the temple of its own accord. I share what little I know to others when they come to me asking, because anything but God is effectively telling them to put a bullet in their head.

    God, for my salvation, keeps me on the tightest of ropes. Such a great sinner am I that He must pull me through each day in spite of myself. Today I picture myself as a runner tied to a car, if I stop, I will be dragged along to my death.

    This is not to say that God isn’t loving. God isn’t at the wheel laughing maniacally. One can misread the Icon the Latter of Divine Ascent as well. I’m only saying that I am incapable of stopping as long as I wish to remain alive.

  16. fatherstephen Avatar


    I think I agree entirely.

  17. keith Avatar

    father bless, When a baby cub is separated from it’s mother,instinct tells it to find its way back home. In this way I think it is in our true nature to return to our Creator, even though our intellect (or lack of) doesn’t process the the concept and that is what we all really want. To have the arms of Christ protect and comfort us! If we could take on Christ name (all His virtues) and approach the Holy cup honestly, we could enjoy this earthly and heavenly Happiness! the kind that passions have no part of! i don’t want much,huh?

  18. PD Avatar

    Well said, David, that pretty much hit the nail on the head!

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