When Your Heart’s Not In It

Grant to my son Solomon a whole heart that he may keep your commandments . . . (1 Chron. 29:19 ESV).

There are days when your feet hit the floor and you begin to move through whatever it is that awaits you whether you want to or not.

Quite often what the day holds for you is familiar. You’ve done those things before, perhaps more times than you can count. The carpool routine, the commute to work, the stop for coffee, the meetings. You tend to the needs of your family. You tend to the needs of your clients and customers. Most of these things, on most days, are things you do because you want to do them. Your job may not be perfect, but you’re thankful for the work. Your family isn’t perfect (no one’s is) but you can’t imagine your life without them.

The hardest days are those days when your feet hit the floor, you move through what the day holds, but somehow your heart got left behind. As is typically said, “Your heart’s not in it.”

When your heart’s not in it you can smile and make conversation at a dinner party but you can’t wait to get home. When your heart’s not in it you can sing with perfect pitch but you find no pleasure in the song. When your heart’s not in it you endure the work just because you need the paycheck.

All of us have days like this, even seasons like this. But an absence of heart is no way to live your life.

Limping Along

At the end of his life David prayed for his son Solomon. The prayer is short – one sentence in a much longer prayer. But the brevity doesn’t compromise the power or significance of what David prays. David begins by asking God to give to Solomon a whole heart, a heart wholly devoted and entirely yielded to God. Everything else will flow out of that. Get the heart right, and the rest of life will follow. The heart is indeed “the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23).

We can pray no less for our children and grandchildren, our babies and our grown-up-out-of-the-house children, the children under our own roof and children in the neighborhood where we live. We pray this for them not simply for their benefit, but because God calls us to walk with him with a whole heart. God desires that we be completely his.

There is a scene in the life of the prophet Elijah in which he confronts the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Before confronting these false prophets, however, Elijah issues a challenge to Israel with these words: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

Elijah spoke a blunt truth about how we live when our hearts are divided. We limp along. We drag through our days. A divided heart leaves us with a diminished life.

Ask God to Give It

Let’s be honest. A wholehearted walk with God is not something that comes to us easily and naturally. Our hearts are pulled in so many directions. Even when we earnestly desire to walk faithfully with God, there are days – perhaps long stretches of days – when our heart just isn’t in it.

In David’s prayer for Solomon the phrase ‘whole heart’ is the focus, but don’t miss an equally important idea in this prayer: Grant. Give. Wholehearted devotion to God isn’t something that David can pass onto Solomon. It can’t be written up in a will. God must give it. If I could give a wholehearted love for God to my son and daughter, I’d do it. But such a thing is beyond me. It is a work of the Spirit. That’s why we must pray for our children and grandchildren, no matter their age. We ask God to give what we can’t give.

If you’ve not already made a practice of this, start right now. Say the name of your child and ask God to give them a ‘whole heart.’ If you’re not a parent, no problem. You still know a child for whom to pray. In fact you can pray this prayer for anyone in your life. You might just begin by praying it for yourself.


Grant to us and to our children, O God, a heart that is wholly yours. Guard us from dragging through our days with half-hearted love for you. As we walk with you through this day, help us to do so not just with right beliefs and good behaviors – but with a whole heart. May everything we do be an expression of love for you, we ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.

One thought on “When Your Heart’s Not In It

  1. The hymn Spirit of God Descend upon my Heart is a prayer:
    Spirit of God descend upon my heart
    Wean it from earth through all its pulses move
    Stoop to my weakness mighty as thou art
    And make me love you as I ought to love.

    There are more verses but I only remember all of verse one.


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