A photograph capturing a person standing alone in a barren desert, their outstretched arms reaching towards the sky, symbolizing the idea that God provides necessities rather than fulfilling our desires.

God Gives You What You Need, Not What You Want

We all have desires for certain things in life – a dream job, financial success, a perfect relationship. But does God actually give us everything we want? Or does He have other plans? In this article, we’ll explore the idea that God gives you what you need, not necessarily what you want.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: God knows what’s best for you, even if it’s not what you asked for. What you want isn’t always what you need. Trust that God has your best interests in mind.

Defining the Difference Between Needs and Wants

Understanding needs vs. wants

Needs and wants are two integral parts of human life, but they are not the same. Needs are things that are necessary for survival and basic functioning, like food, water, shelter, and clothing. On the other hand, wants are things that are desired but not essential, like a new car, the latest smartphone, or expensive jewelry.

While wants make life more enjoyable, needs sustain life itself.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs helps explain the difference further. At the base of the hierarchy are physiological needs like air, water, food, and sleep. These are fundamental to survival. Safety needs like health, wellbeing, and security come next.

Higher up are psychological needs like relationships and self-esteem. At the peak are self-actualization needs like morality, creativity, and purpose. Wants generally relate to the higher levels of this hierarchy, while needs focus on the more basic levels.

Examples of needs God provides

According to the Bible, God promises to provide for the basic needs of His children. For instance, in Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear, because God will provide as He does for the birds and flowers.

Through God’s provision, our needs for food, water, and clothing will be met.

In addition to material needs, God also meets emotional and spiritual needs. Psalms 23 reminds us that God will lead us to peaceful rest and refreshing water when we feel weary and thirsty in our souls.

Philippians 4:19 declares that “God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” This includes grace, mercy, and strength for each day.

Why God doesn’t grant all our wants

While God promises to provide our needs, He does not obligate Himself to give everything we want. There are good reasons why God withholds some desires:

  • Some wants may be frivolous pursuits or fleeting pleasures that lead us away from God’s best. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives.”
  • Getting everything we want can foster complacency, greed, and self-indulgence instead of dependency on God. Hebrews 12:11 states, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.”
  • Delayed or unmet wants teach us virtues like patience, self-control, and sacrifice. Romans 5:3-4 says, “…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Though disappointing at times, God’s wisdom and sovereignty are enough reason to trust that He will only grant wants that align with His perfect plan for our lives. As 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: He hears us when we ask anything according to His will.”

Trusting God’s Plan for Your Life

Letting go of expectations

Often, we think we know what is best for our lives. We envision a specific career, relationship, or lifestyle that we believe will make us happy and fulfilled. However, God may have a very different plan in mind. His vision for our lives is far greater than our own limited perspectives can comprehend.

Surrendering our expectations requires humility and trust that the Creator understands our true needs better than we do ourselves.

This letting go of preconceived notions opens us up to receive blessings we never imagined. The biblical figure of Joseph serves as an inspiration in this area. Though originally destined in his mind for leadership, Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers.

After various trials in Egypt, he eventually rose to become second-in-command of the nation, putting him in a position to save countless lives during a devastating famine. Joseph came to understand that God had guided him through his darkest hours for an ultimate good (Genesis 50:20).

When we release our tight grip on personal expectations, we make space for God’s higher purpose.

Accepting discomfort as part of growth

The refinement God wants to bring in our lives often involves emotional, spiritual, or physical discomfort. Going through trials requires equipping ourselves with patience and perspective. As revealed in James 1:2-4, we can even face these difficult seasons with joy, knowing that they produce maturity and strong character within us.

God promises not to allow more struggles than we can actually bear with His help (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Understanding that storms inevitably give way to sunshine can encourage us during bouts of discomfort. Just as muscle must break down during exercise to become stronger, an oyster suffers irritation from a grain of sand yet produces an exquisite pearl in response, and acres of forest growth rely on the devastation of periodic wildfires – we too must undergo tribulation to reach new levels of spiritual vitality.

Our temporary afflictions result in “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” for those who fix their eyes on heaven (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Developing patience and endurance

Waiting for God’s timing and direction often requires cultivating patience and spiritual tenacity within ourselves. Yet the character refinement this process engenders makes reaching our destiny all the more rewarding.

As a loving parent may deliberately wait to give a child something they beg for, knowing the delay will make the gift sweeter, God withholds desired outcomes at times to stir our hunger for His presence.

When we choose the high road of responding to delays with grace instead of frustration, we grow in integrity. We can look to patriarch Abraham as an example in this area. Abraham patiently endured decades of childlessness before Isaac was finally born in his old age.

His perseverance led to the fulfillment of God’s covenant through his lineage (Hebrews 6: 15). Just as a tree’s slow growth over years yields strong and stable timber, slow spiritual growth equips us for all God has in store over our lifetime.

Aligning Your Prayers With God’s Will

Praying for guidance instead of outcomes

When we pray, it’s natural to ask God for the outcomes we desire – a new job, healing from illness, success in a venture, etc. However, while God cares about our desires, His ultimate priority is our growth into the people He created us to be.

Instead of telling God what we want, the most powerful prayers ask for guidance to align our will with His.

For example, instead of praying for a promotion at work, we could pray: “God, guide me to develop qualities that make me deserving of greater responsibility. Show me if this promotion is part of Your plan for me.” This prayer focuses on spiritual growth rather than a specific external outcome.

Being open to God’s answers

Often, we pray with preconceived notions of what God’s answer should be. When circumstances unfold differently, we become bitter or lose faith. However, God sees a bigger picture and knows what we truly need.

Instead of dictating terms, we must trust God even when His response confuses or challenges us.

For instance, if we pray for healing but continue battling illness, we must believe God still intends good for us. Perhaps He is using the illness to develop virtues like patience and compassion. We may not understand God’s ways, but we can trust His wisdom and love are perfect.

Thy will be done

“Thy will be done” should be the underlying plea behind all prayer. As Jesus modeled in Gethsemane, surrendering our will to God’s brings peace and confidence even amid confusion, fear or disappointment.

God promises to work all things for good (Romans 8:28) – our role is to walk in faith through the process.

Additionally, submitting our desires to God helps purify motivations. As we release outcomes to Him, we gain the freedom to serve without expectation of reward or reciprocity. We love and give because it aligns with His will, not to achieve personal gain.

In the end, God gives us what we need, not always what we want. Through prayerful surrender to His will, we access the inexhaustible riches only He can provide.


God always has our best interests in mind, even when His plan doesn’t match our own desires. Rather than wishing for circumstances to be different, trust that you’re exactly where you need to be. Continue praying for direction while accepting that getting what you want isn’t the ultimate goal.

If you align your heart with God’s will, He will provide everything you need.

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