Holding to Truth

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Hunger—The Foremost Condition for Spiritual Progress

As Christians, it’s normal for us to desire to make progress in our Christian life. But have you ever considered what the foremost condition for this spiritual progress might be? In a word, it’s hunger.

Take a look at Luke 1:53 —

“The hungry He has filled with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.”

This verse is most enlightening, and it reveals a spiritual principle with God: He will fill us to the extent that we’re open. In other words, the hungrier we are, the more we will be filled with “good things.”

God is inexhaustibly rich, but our experience of His riches depends on our spiritual appetite. Whether we are “filled” or “sent away empty” depends on whether or not we’re hungry.

A Healthy Pattern

In his message upon which this post is based, Watchman Nee shares his experience with a very mature and experienced sister in the Lord, M.E. Barber. Shortly before her death, he asked her why she had such profound spiritual experiences. She responded:

“I do not know. I only know that I have always been hungry and I have always been eating. Since I was nine, I have always been hungry; I have never been content before the Lord for these many years. I might have received grace and revelation yesterday, but today I say to God, `You have more, and I want more. I want more all the time.’ I am forever hungry and yet at the same time forever satisfied.”

A Frustration to Our Spiritual Progress: Lack of Hunger

At times in my Christian life, I wonder why my enjoyment of Christ is so limited. I may read the Bible without getting much out of what I read. Or, I may listen to others share what they’ve enjoyed of Christ without getting much out of what they say.

In these situations, my problem may be a lack of hunger. In other words, I may think I know so much already, so I’m not open to receive something new and fresh from God’s Word. In a helpful post on Holding to Truth about being poor in spirit, Joe describes a condition that I’m often guilty of:

“Quite often we think we know so much. Whether we’re a high-school student or a theological grad student, we think we already understand the Bible and we already know what God’s eternal purpose is—but what if we don’t?”

A Prayer for Spiritual Hunger

So, what should we do? We should take heed to the exhortation in Psalm 81:10b — “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” That is, we should open our being to the Lord, asking Him to increase our spiritual hunger. We can pray something like this:

“Lord, give me a proper spiritual hunger. Save me from thinking that I know anything or have anything. Cause me to be poor in spirit, and cause me to want more of You all the time. Lord, I open my being wide that You can fill me with Your riches. Empty me of all the old things, and fill me with Yourself every day.”

In my experience, the Lord never fails to give us a proper spiritual hunger when we ask for it. May we be those, like M.E. Barber, who are “forever hungry and forever satisfied.” Such a condition will surely allow us to make steady progress in our Christian life.

If you’re hungry for more, I suggest reading Watchman Nee’s message, “The Foremost Condition for Spiritual Progress,” in the Collected Works of Watchman Nee, Vol. 42, Message 4.

Photo credit: luxomedia

About John-Paul Petrash

John-Paul is a guest contributor. You can read more of his posts at http://achristianoncampus.wordpress.com/.

11 Replies

  1. Great post. Really great. I especially like your point about “forever hungry and forever satisfied.” It’s a big contradiction we live in. On the one hand, I’m statisfied with Christ. I’m happy. I’m content. On the other hand, I’m not really satisfied. I’m still hungry for more. I’ve got to get more.

    So being content with Christ is both a good thing and a bad thing. Another one of those wonderfully Divine contradictions. Again, great post John-Paul.

    1. John-Paul Petrash

      Thanks for the comment, Clark. You’re right, we should be satisfied with Christ, but at the same time our attitude should be that we want more of Him. The Lord has a way of satisfying us while still stirring up within us a deeper seeking for Him. This phenomenon is evident throughout Song of Songs, in which we see a cycle of seeking, finding, resting in satisfaction, becoming dissatisfied, and then seeking again. May this be our experience as well.

  2. Tom Smith

    I really appreciate the practical help to see the top frustration to our spiritual progress–a lack of spiritual hunger. I also appreciate, that according to Psa. 81:10, we can open to the Lord to be emptied and unloaded so that He may grant us an enlarged spiritual hunger. Great post. We’ll be looking to hear more from you on HTL. Thanks.

    1. John-Paul Petrash

      I like this point that you brought out of opening to the Lord to be emptied and unloaded. I appreciate that we can have intimate conversations with the Lord in which we breathe out all the old things in our being and, simultaneously, breathe in the Lord in His newness and freshness.

  3. Luke 1:53 is one of my favorite verses.

  4. what a good reminder. Lord, keep me hungry all the time!

    I was recently reading from the life-study on Matthew concerning “being poor in spirit” – always open, unloaded, emptied, ready to receive a new thought, the new and fresh speaking of the King of the kingdom of the heavens… We need to not filled with concepts and knowledge, but be unloaded and emptied constantly! Lord, make us those hungry for Your speaking, Your Word…

  5. How I thank the Lord for finding this post. This is so refreshing. The Lord is always availabe to be enjoyed. Lord, make me hungry even more! Make us “forever hungry and yet at the same time forever satisfied.” Thank the Lord for giving us patterns. I never understood Einstein’s Theory of relativity but the Lord is even more paradoxical. When we eat Him, we are satisfied and the more we are satisfied the more we get hungry of Him!

  6. Samuel

    Thank you so much for the post, personally i have always been yearning for more in Christ Jesus, something I thought was right because of some scriptures like John 10:10, speaking of a life of abundancy

    1. Tom Smith

      Samuel, it is a blessing to yearn for more of Christ. There is so much more of Him for us to experience and enjoy. May the Lord grant us to be always hungry for more of Him, yet always satisfied with what He gives. The abundant life that the Lord Jesus promises is for those that hunger for Him. May the Lord daily renew our hunger for Him. Thank you for your comment.

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