John Piper’s When I Don’t Desire God is hands down one of the best, most well balanced, theologically on-point books I have ever read. It is my opinion that most Christians, especially in America, especially who deal day in-day out, with a stale spiritual life, should read this book.
Although I am a subscriber to the Desiring God blog, on which Piper is a regular author, and besides having seen Piper speak on several occasion, this is only the second book from Piper that I’ve read all the way through. He has a somewhat peculiar writing style that takes a chapter or two to adjust to and I hadn’t managed to do it in the past. But this time I did and it was well worth it.
Piper sets out in the beginning of the book to relay some ground work for folks who aren’t already in tune with the idea of Christian Hedonism. It’s essentially the idea that a person should do absolutely whatever is necessary to make themselves happy. So, to be a Christian Hedonist would be to believe that knowing God and enjoying God is essentially the only real way to be happy. He relays the foundation of biblical truth spoken of extensively in other works that “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him”. The ideas are laced together to create a framework to teach the weary and the bored that we must “rejoice always in the Lord”. (Philippians 4:4).
Throughout his text, he stays strikingly well balanced. Teaching, from the scripture, many profound spiritual truths—however abstract they may be. But scarcely does he introduce a spiritual truth without pairing it with a practical implementation. The best example of Piper’s skill here is during his discussion of the word of God and it’s place in our lives. He spends one chapter discussing the spiritual truths and implications of the word of God, but then follows immediately with an entire chapter of helpful, time tested ideas of how to live out those truths.
Finally the last chapter focuses on the occasion that a person seeks hard to enjoy God and be satisfied by Him, but is not. In that discussion I found great encouragement and strength for my own soul. That chapter alone perhaps was worth the entire book.
When I Don’t Desire God finishes out at 234 pages and spans across 12 chapters. In addition to that, each chapter is broken up into a dozen or so subsections that make picking it up and putting it down very easy. It effectively removes excuses for not reading by making sure that you don’t necessarily have to read for more than just a few minutes, if that’s all you’ve got available to you.
All in all, I recommend this book to all believers. It’s affordable and valuable and is likely to stir you in unexpected ways.