Hunger is usually a sign of good health. When a person recovers from an illness, the first thing they want to do is eat. The same is true with spiritual hunger. When we have a strong hunger for the things of God, it is a sign that we are spiritually healthy. Spiritual hunger is one of the most important keys to the blessing and presence of God. It also brings great delight to the heart of God and is the most important quality that God looks for in our lives. The Bible says “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect (loyal, undivided) toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
What is spiritual hunger?
Firstly: It is a strong desire for God’s presence and power. We see an example of this in the life of Moses. When God told him that an angel would go before them and cause them to possess the Promised Land, Moses told God that he was not interested unless God went with him. (Exodus 33:15) The presence of God was more important to him than the blessings of God.
Secondly: it is manifested by our dependence on God. Moses said in Deuteronomy 8:2 to the Children of Israel, “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger … that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” God allowed them to suffer physical hunger so that they would develop a hunger for a relationship with Him. That is why God sometimes may remove some of the natural things that distract us from Him so that we can learn to be dependent on Him. However, God wants us to have a hunger for Him even when we experience His blessings. David, who was the possibly the richest and most blessed person alive at that time said, “I am poor and needy!” (Psalms 40:17) He had a hunger for God, in an atmosphere of blessing.
(3) Thirdly: It is is manifested by our openness to the Holy Spirit and the word of God. Jesus said in Luke 4:4, that man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If we have a hunger for God, then we will also have a hunger for His word. We love to read the Bible and meditate on His word.
The benefits of Spiritual hunger:
1. Hungry people will be satisfied and fulfilled: There are many scriptures that speak about the benefits of spiritual hunger. We read in Psalms 107:9, “He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry heart with goodness. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (7) The word ‘filled’ can also mean to be satisfied or fulfilled. Hungry people are contented people. Mary the mother of Jesus said in Luke 1:53 that God“… fills the hungry with good things but sends the rich away empty.” When we are hungry for God, we always want to receive more from Him, but the rich, those who think they do not need God and have everything they need, do not receive anything from God.
2. Hungry people will experience the refreshing and the power of the Holy Spirit. We read in Psalms 107:35-36, 38, that “He turns the wilderness into pools of water, and dry land into water springs. There he makes the hungry to dwell that they may establish a city for a dwelling place.” It says here, “they may establish a city for a dwelling place.” When we hunger for God, we establish a place for the presence of God, for He dwells among those who are hungry. They have a wonderful intimate relationship with God! Jesus also said, “Whoever is thirsty come unto Me and drink and out of your heart shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-39)
3. Hungry people will influence others for Jesus: We read in Psalm 107:38,“He blesses them (the hungry) and they multiply greatly.” There is great blessing for those who are hungry for God. They influence others for Christ and their churches grow.
How do we know that we are hungry for God?
1. We will do anything and go anywhere to meet with God: In the natural, hungry people are desperate people and they will do anything and go anywhere to receive something to eat. Hunger is one of the strongest motivations of a man. In some countries, they will stand in long queues all day long just to receive some bread. In the same way, if we are spiritually hungry, we will do anything even if it costs us money and it is inconvenient to meet with God and to have His reality in our lives. Sometimes we will even fast and pray, because we are hungry for God’s presence and blessing. That is why people all over the world, will fly to places, even at great cost to experience the move of the Holy Spirit.
2. We love to spend time in God’s presence: If we are hungry of God then it is not difficult for us to pray, read the Bible and worship God. We experience the reality of that verse that says, “deep calls unto deep.” (Psalm 42:7) Something in us yearns for something in God. However, if we feel we do not have this hunger, we can begin to draw near to God today by faith and our hunger for God will begin to increase. James says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)If we take the first step, God will do the rest and give us the grace to draw near.
3. We have a desire to meet with other Christians: John writes and says that “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” (1 John 3:14) Those that withdraw from fellowship and from relationships with other believers are those who have usually lost their hunger for God. I have heard so many tell me, “I love Jesus, I read my Bible and I pray, but I do not see the necessity of going to church.” The truth of the matter is that they are spiritually dead and have lost their hunger for God.
One of my favorite Psalms says that “Those that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;” (Psalms 92:13-14) Hungry people are “planted in the house of the Lord” They are committed to a local church!
4. We lose our appetite for the things of the world: Although many things we do and watch are not sinful, they should not control our lives. Our love and hunger for God is often measured by our lack of desire for the things of the world. The Bible says, “Love not the world, nor the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”(1 John 2:15) We will often find that worldly entertainment becomes boring to us because we have experienced something so much better, our relationship with God. When we love the world and the things of the world, we lose our love for the Father. On the other hand, when we develop our love for the Father, we will lose our desire for the things of the world.
5. We are joyful and excited about the things of God: The Bible says that “the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) When our Christian lives become boring, it means we may be losing our hunger for God. Hungry people are always excited and enthusiastic about the things of God and about following Jesus. They love to talk about the Lord and what He is doing.
6. We easily receive the blessings of God: The book of Proverbs says, “A full soul loathes the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.” (Proverbs 27:7) In the natural, hungry people are not fussy what they eat, they will even eat a dry piece of bread, and they will eat anything! Even “bitter things seem sweet to them!” In the same way, those who are hungry for God are easily edified and blessed. Even a boring sermon will bless them. They will always find something that blesses and are humble enough to receive from anyone whom God chooses. They are usually the ones that take notes during the sermons, and have an open and teachable attitude. We have had the privilege to minister to those in countries who are so spiritually hungry. Even simple truths bless them.
How do we become hungry for God?
1. Feed ourselves with God’s word: In the natural world, we lose our hunger when we eat. It the spiritual world, the opposite is true, we increase our hunger when we eat. The more we read and meditate on the Bible, the more our hunger for God’s word will increase. We will be like Jeremiah who said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16) The word of God, the Bible, produces spiritual hunger. The more we read it, the more we want to read it. In Hebrews it says, “For the word of God is living and powerful…” (Hebrew 4:12) The word ‘powerful’ is the Greek word, “energes”. Spiritual energy and hunger automatically is imparted to us when we read and meditate on the word of God.
2. Repentance: If we acknowledge and repent from that which steals our hunger. We can also repent of our lack of hunger for God, in the book of Corinthians we read how their repentance produced a supernatural zeal and hunger in their hearts for God. We read, “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed after a godly manner, what diligence it produced in you … what zeal, what vehement desire…”(2 Corinthians 7:11) They noticed that after they repented they had a new desire and hunger for God.
3. We can ask God to give us the gift of hunger: The Bible says that if “we ask anything according to the will of God, God will hear us, and if he hears us, we have the petition that we have asked for.” (1 John 5:14) Hunger is the will of God for our lives so we can ask God to give us that hunger. We cannot work up a natural hunger for God; we can only receive it by grace.
4. Expose ourselves to the move of the Holy Spirit: We can meet with those who are hungry for God, and where the Holy Spirit is moving. We are like a coal in the fire, when it is in the fire it will glow, but if we remove it from the fire, it will stop glowing. Those that are hungry for God will help us to increase our hunger for God. The Bible says that we should “…. consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)Sometimes we need to go to places where the Spirit of God is moving in order to increase our hunger for God.
5. We can expose ourselves to those who have had encounters with God and who have been greatly used by God. We can listen to their messages, listen to their testimonies and read their books. One of the things that my wife and I do is to watch Sid Roth’s supernatural program each week where he interviews those who are greatly used by God and have had amazing experiences with Him. We read in Revelations that “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.“(Revelations 19.10) The word prophecy means ‘to do it again’. When we read the stories of those who were hungry for God, it will also increase our hunger for Him.
6. We can stop feeding ourselves with that that takes away our spiritual hunger. For example, if we eat junk food before eating a delicious meal, we will lose our appetite for the meal. In the same way, there are things that we are feeding our minds and hearts with that can take away our spiritual hunger for God. There are no laws against watching TV, spending time on the Internet, watching sport and other types of entertainment. But we need to be careful that these things do not cause us to lose our hunger for God. I have found in my own life, that there are things that are not considered sinful that takes away my hunger for God. Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” (1 Cor. 10:23) Often it is not what we watch or read, but the spirit behind it that grieves the Holy Spirit.
7. The importance of fasting: When we become hungry for natural food, we often stir up our hunger for spiritual food. When we fast, the influence of the flesh is weakened which makes us more aware of the influence of the Holy Spirit. I have often experienced a greater awareness of God’s presence when I fast. The best motive for fasting should be to deepen our desire for spiritual things and to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Jesus said“… but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” (Matthew 9:15) When Jesus, our Heavenly Bridegroom seems far away, we can fast because we desire His presence.
8. Do something for Jesus: When we are actively doing something for Jesus such as praying for the sick, encouraging people, preaching the gospel or teaching the Bible, our hunger for God will increase. Our active involvement in spiritual things, keeps us spiritually alert and hungry for God. Paul said to Timothy, “… stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6) If we feel that we are losing our hunger for God, then one of the best things we can do is to tell others about Jesus and heal the sick.
Finally: Jesus said, “… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) Our relationship with Jesus and our commitment to Him will cause us to lose our appetite for the things of the world and fulfill the hunger in our souls. Amen