Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
The Stomach or the Heart
Crowds were always following Jesus. They became even larger and more determined after he fed them. For most leaders, they would welcome the crowds and their adulation. Jesus was not your typical leader, though. This became clear from his observation: “You are looking for me because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” His point was clear. The people were more interested in having him fill their stomachs than their hearts.
Jesus’ observation should make me seriously consider my motives when I come in prayer. Do I seek him only to fill my empty stomach, or do I want him to fill my empty heart? The answer is critical for my eternal well-being.
On a daily basis I urgently pray for the obvious needs of my stomach. Earthly problems are a concern. Earthly emergencies demand attention. Earthly conflicts need solutions. In contrast, I must confess the needs of my heart are not as pressing. Still, I need a stronger faith. I need the peace of forgiveness. I need greater strength to overcome temptation. My prayer life is a good indicator as to which is more important—my stomach or my heart.
What I find comforting is that Jesus always responds first and foremost to the needs of my heart. He gives me his Word to refresh me. He gives me his forgiveness to renew me. He gives me his Spirit to regenerate me. In the end, what more could I ever want for my heart’s desire?
Still, I struggle. My stomach is powerful. It controls my decisions, and it makes countless demands. Yet, my heart strengthened by the Lord is more powerful. It leads me to make God-pleasing decisions, and it helps me recognize what is most important.
How blessed I am to live with a heart filled with Jesus and his rich blessings.
O faithful Savior, teach me to recognize what I truly need. Guide me in every prayer. Fill my heart with your gracious presence. Amen.