Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Hunger

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Hunger October 20, 2013

I do not often resemble the following scriptures:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
— Matt 5:6

O God, thou art my God, I seek thee,
my soul thirsts for thee;
my flesh faints for thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
— Ps 63:1

And this is a problem for the interior life, because the interior life is a life of learning to love God more than anything else, to put God before all else. And since we cannot really achieve that in this life (which is why “hope” is one of the theological virtues), the interior life is precisely a life of hungering and thirsting for God.

It’s kind of a double-bind. If you aren’t hungry and thirsty for God, you won’t seek him; so how can you seek him if you aren’t hungry and thirsty for Him? How can you get the interior life moving?

It reminds me of something my eldest said when he was quite young, and was asked why he hadn’t done something or other:

I can’t want to.

When it comes to loving God, sometimes I can’t want to, either.

And yet, I find, when I think about it, that I want to want to. And that’s all that’s necessary. As C.S. Lewis had George MacDonald say in The Great Divorce,

If there’s one wee spark under all those ashes, we’ll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear.

Just pray: “Lord Jesus, I want to hunger and thirst for you as I ought.” Pray it whenever you happen to think about, because it’s a prayer that I believe Jesus will always answer. It might take awhile. In my case, I think it took years before I noticed that the prayer was being answered.

(Years? Really? Years? Well, yeah. The interior life is a long-term thing.)

Perhaps you can’t want to. But if you can want to want to, you’ll get there in the end.

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