The Surprising Power of Delight

I coasted into the new year like a car running on fumes. Every tank that fuels my life—my spiritual tank, my emotional tank, my physical tank, my relational tank—each one had been emptied by a year full of struggle and stress. But, here I am cruising down the Highway of 2022 with a full tank. What shifted? I discovered the surprising power of delight. 

Delight—it seems like such a fluffy word. Perhaps it conjures images of a little girl squealing with laughter or some small indulgence like the perfect hot fudge sundae. But open your Bible and you’ll see that delight is not a cotton ball emotion. It has the power of a nuclear warhead. 

Your Devotion-o-Meter

The Bible is chock-full of the word “delight” and it teaches that, like most of our emotions, delight is a two-edged sword. 

On the positive side, God and His Word are so easy to delight in, and when we enjoy Him, our affections are transformed. The Psalmist declared:

Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4 ESV)

And . . .

I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8 ESV

And . . .

In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways. (Psalm 119:14–15 ESV)

The pattern is clear. First, we delight in God, and then He expands that delight, helping us want more and more of Him.

On the negative side, misplaced delight pulls us toward all manner of sinful choices and patterns. After all, it was Eve’s delight that led her to reach for the fruit her Creator had forbidden. 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:6 ESV, emphasis mine)

The Psalmist knew a thing or two about that, too. 

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you. (Psalm 5:4 ESV

For better or for worse, what we delight in is what we dwell on. In 2021, my delights were haphazard at best and misplaced most days. A shiny new year gave me an opportunity to assess what I enjoy most and to think about how misdirected glee can keep me from experiencing the flourishing life Scripture promises. 

A Delightful Way to Pray

Let me show you the practical side of this. 

  • Instead of praying that God would help us read the Bible more, we can pray that He would help us to delight in His Word until we can agree with thePsalmist, “[My] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2 ESV). 
  • Instead of praying that God would help us to stop yelling at our kids or holding on to bitterness toward our husband or a friend, we can pray that God would give us genuine delight for them. I’m learning it’s much harder to sin against those you delight in. 
  • Instead of praying for God to help us get our work done, we can pray for God to teach us to delight in the job He has given us. Happy workers are productive workers. 

Pastor John Piper hits delight’s power home with these weighty words: “Christianity in America has been ravaged by the teaching that decisions are more basic in defining a Christian than delight”(emphasis mine).1

Soak in that for a moment. God is never first and foremost concerned with our behavior: He is always most interested in our heart (1 Sam. 16:7). The heart is where delight grows. Ask yourself, Is my relationship with Jesus and with others more defined by the decisions I make toward them or the delight I have for them? Decision fatigue leads to the doldrums. Delight is an endless reservoir of joy and inspiration. 

Every year is filled with joy and sorrow, trials and triumphs, most of which we cannot control. Such is the human condition. But there is an area well within our grasp. We get to choose who or what we delight in. When we spend our days enjoying God and His many, many good gifts we will find the tank of our lives full of the unique power that comes from the pleasure of knowing Jesus. 

1 John Piper, “The Problem with American 'Christianity',” Desiring God, February 10, 2022, https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/new-god-new-gospel-new-gladness/excerpts/the-problem-with-american-christianity.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: Fasting & Feasting7 … read more …


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