Satisfying the Hunger Pangs of Our Hearts

Apr 28, 2023 | Articles, Prayer, The Interior Life

By Lucy Mervine

“What is it now, my heart? What are you longing for?” 

This isn’t a phrase I specifically utter to myself, but everyday I find myself at the mercy of my hungry heart. Oftentimes I will attempt to quiet this “hunger” with food, knowing full-well that my stomach is not the thing that is crying out for satiation. Sometimes I will purchase something that I don’t need. At other times, I exercise and find a taste of freedom in the movement.

I keep consuming passing pleasures in the hopes that this “one more thing” will satisfy me. 

But the hunger always returns. In the best moments, my reaction is to pray, and that provides the deepest relief.

How can you and I come to know the sources of these aches for God from the first sign? How can we be in greater touch with our hearts’ longing for Him?

The Power of Fasting

First, what we must recognize and always remember is that God is the only source that provides complete and lasting satiation and abundance of the desires of our hearts. In this present life, in which the battle against sin is waged, we struggle to be in touch with God our true end. Left to our own devices, we confound ourselves. There is disunity within us. As we are constantly in a wrestling match with ourselves, trust in God becomes paramount. 

Simply giving in to every passing desire is not the answer. It is imperative to deny ourselves frequently. This can either be a temporary or a complete denial. 

Fasting is a particularly potent way of managing our hunger and cultivating the virtue of self-control. Fasting from a particular good thing for a specific intention has proved to be most powerful, but it need not be overcomplicated or stoic. I recently heard an amazing story of how one woman fasted from pickles (her favorite food) for the conversion of her husband to Catholicism. On the day of his entrance into the Church, which was about 30 years into their marriage, she celebrated by once again enjoying her favorite food. 

The Power of Ordinary Moments

From my perspective, this scramble to satisfy our “hunger” in surface-level avenues is evidence that we are uncomfortable in just being. We are always on the watch for the next thing to be doing. And sure, we are called to work and to be productive, but not to the point that we are unable to see and judge rightly what is a worthwhile pursuit to begin with! 

Most of us nowadays squander many opportunities to sit still long enough to discover what God is actually asking us to do. Determination, in fact, is fostered in the silence and the “boredom”. How frustrating, especially when we chock up our productivity for a given day to a crossed off piece of scratch paper. What do those little tasks have to do with the big picture? What have they to do with the eternal salvation of our soul and those entrusted to us? How do we come to make the ordinary tasks bear fruits of Life and Love?

Here we come back to the notion that God’s ways are not the ways of man; they are higher (Isaiah 55: 8-9). While we might scoff at the day-to-day tasks of our lives, God is often working behind the scene in powerful ways. 

Do not be dismissive to the ordinary. For therein did St. Therese and so many other saints find their “Little Way” of sanctification. How radically different it would be to realize that every little task, every beckoning to a small obedience, can help us to get closer to God. Our God, who humbly comes to us every single day and sits in a tabernacle, awaiting our frenzy of activity to be laid aside, and in the stillness draws us close to abide in Him. 

Sometimes the same things we consider to be the “nothings” of our day are the very “somethings” that God has arranged in order to meet us there. 

The next time you are at odds with your own heart, I challenge you to sit with the hunger just a little longer. Bring it before the Lord in prayer, and ask Him to reveal His own hunger for you through it.  He will show you true satisfaction beyond measure.

Lucy Mervine

Lucy Mervine

Lucy writes whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. Every day is approached as an opportunity to embrace her mission as the Father’s warrior of joy. She enjoys paying careful attention to the wonders of ordinary moments and using creative avenues to share her findings with others.


Before commenting, please read through our comment guidelines.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

St. Joseph's Shelf logo

Welcome to St. Joseph’s Shelf!

Are you looking for ways to apply your Faith to your daily life and become a saint? We publish practical Catholic reflections on ordinary life every week.

You Might Like...

Mary’s Immaculate Conception: What It Means for You and Me

Mary’s Immaculate Conception: What It Means for You and Me

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary was preserved from any stain of sin from the first moment of her conception onward. It’s a stunning truth to ponder, yet perhaps we might wonder how we can relate to a woman so pure and exalted. Here, then, are four things you and I can draw from Mary’s Immaculate Conception in relation to our everyday lives.

read more