Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith

Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith


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  • Logos Bookstores' 2015 Best Book in Spirituality/Devotional
  • 2015 Christianity Today Book of the Year
  • Honorable Mention, 2014 Best Book of the Year from Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Bookstore

As Christians, we're squeamish about desire. Isn't wanting sinful and selfish? Aren't we supposed to find and follow God's will rather than insisting upon our own?
The story of each person is a story of want—desires unmet, hopes dashed, passions pursued and ambitions fulfilled. Our wants cannot be ignored. But when desire is informed by Scripture and re-formed by our spiritual practices, it can root us more deeply in the fundamental belief that God is good and generous and can invite us into active kingdom participation.
Jen Pollock Michel guides us on a journey of understanding who we are when we want, and reintroduces us to a God who gives us the desires of our hearts. That same good God calls us into a new reality in which we seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and we discover our disordered desires burned away while our truest longings are happily fulfilled and purified. The disciples asked Jesus to "Teach us to pray." This book asks, "Teach us to want."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780830843121
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 06/04/2014
Pages: 221
Sales rank: 876,640
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jen Pollock Michel is a writer, speaker and mother of five. She writes regularly for Her.meneutics.com and Today in the Word.

Table of Contents

Foreward by Katelyn Beaty

1. Afraid to Want: Fear

2. Aperture of the Heart: Courage

3. Precipice of Hope: Grace

4. Project Kingdom: Good News

5. Visions of Sugarplums: Scripture

6. The Business of Holy: Prayer

7. Bread and Butter: Petition

8. If the Shoe Fits: Confession

9. Be My Neighbor: Community

10. Ruby Slippers: Commitment


Discussion Guide


What People are Saying About This

Mark Buchanan

"Jen Pollock Michel fuses three things that make her book essential reading: deep insight, raw honesty and radiant prose. She's a terrific writer, an agile thinker and—if that were not enough—a fearless witness to her own heart's darkness and light. By inviting me deeply into the mess and beauty of her own story, she has given me courage to step into the mess and beauty of my own—and, with her, to meet afresh the One who awakens, names, purifies and meets all the desires of my heart."

Kathy Khang

"Michel artfully weaves together Scripture and story to point us straight to the truth of God's love, grace and provision. This is not a Christian guide to success or a biblical condemnation of desire. This is a book that rightly resets our human desires into the context of God's good news."

Bethany Jenkins

"Seriously, one of the most beautiful nonfiction books I have ever read."

Leslie Leyland Fields

"'Lead me not into ambition,' I have prayed, sideways, with the weight of ambition on my shoulders. Who has not wrestled with the tensions between what we desire and what (we think) God desires? Michel has brilliantly lit a way through our own dark, tangled brambles. I've been waiting for this book for a long time."

Jennifer Grant

"Jen Pollock Michel's Teach Us to Want is a beautiful spiritual memoir that weaves the author's story with passages from Scripture that address—and even gracefully redress—her restless fears and questions. Intelligent, honest and inspiring, the book invites readers to understand their own stories of loss and "loving wrongly" in the light of that which is truly the antidote to our fears and dissatisfaction, the good news."

Rebekah Lyons

"As women, we often feel the urge to hide our longings, especially in the church. Through her own story of fear, loss and God's goodness, Jen stirs us to recover and reshape these desires in light of the kingdom of God."

Customer Reviews