In July, 2014, my first book entitled, Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, was published by InterVarsity Press. It was named Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year, an Honor Book by the Englewood Review of Books, as well as a Best Book of the Year in 2014 by Hearts and Minds.
“In Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith (InterVarsity Press), Toronto-based writer Jen Pollock Michel challenges conventional Christian notions about heeding desire . . .We must trust that God gives us desires for a reason, and that if the desire is not, on its surface, good and selfless, there is something underneath it that might be. This is the task of desire—to bring the flourishing of the family, the town, the school, and the soul.”
– Laura Turner, Christianity Today
“In this compelling book that masterfully interweaves juicy personal narrative, scholarly research, and solid biblical exegesis, Michel builds a case for the importance of examining desire’s many facets: ‘Desire is the powerful subtext of our lives. It determines our decisions. This is why we need to pay attention to it.'”
-Aleah Marsden, Books and Culture
“Michel tackles the tangled intersection of longing, ambition and the life of faith. With breathtakingly beautiful prose, inviting stories, and disarming candor she dives deep into the Scriptures to search out how it is that God made us creatures who want things, desire things, aspire for things. She traces out how sin has made ruin of all our wants . . . but reminds us that this is not where the story ends.”
-Bronwyn Lea, Englewood Review of Books
“Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith by Jen Pollock Michel is an excavator for the heart; it digs into our foundations and helps us plant new roots. Not content to offer a rake when a shovel is needed, Michel is intricate in her examination of the human heart and its many facets―our fears to want, our disordered desires, our kingdom longings, our opportunities to surrender, our practical needs, and the boundaries that rein in our desires.”
-Bethany Jenkins, The Gospel Coalition
“Any book that can [recover and reshape desire in light of the kingdom of God] deserves to be honored. Better, it enjoys to be read and discussed. I hope you buy [Teach Us to Want], and I invite you to enjoy us in celebrating it as a major contribution to Christian publishing this year.”
-Bryon Borger, Hearts and Minds
Here are some published excerpts of the book.
And here is one resource I’m really excited to commend to you in addition to the book. It’s a free six-week Bible study on desire I’ve written for churches and small groups who want to explore the topic of desire more intensively. The sessions are titled:
Week One: The Call to Desire – Every prayer is an act of desire.
Week Two: The Caution of Desire – Prayer isn’t getting our way with God. It’s getting God in us.
Week Three: The Content of Holy Desire – The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to make God’s desires our own.
Week Four: The Character of Holy Desire – Holy desire is an act of trust.
Week Five: The Commitment of Holy Desire – Holy desire inspires commitment to obedient action.
Week Six: The Celebration of Holy Desire – Holy desire enjoys God’s goodness.
Here’s what a few people are saying about it:
“Jen’s Biblical and personal examples inspired me to pray The Lord’s Prayer more consistently and intentionally.” – Brittany, Ohio
“The 6-week timeframe is effective in helping you explore and expose your inner workings in a concentrated way, so that you know how and why you desire certain things and have certain tendencies. It is not a study only on desires and longing, but ultimately prayer, scripture, and identifying God’s particular calling and giftings in you – as human beings we were made to desire great things. It is a great study to examine how God has used desire in Scripture to fulfill his plan and show His great love for His people.” – HyeLee Jo, Toronto
I’m looking forward to publishing my second book with InterVarsity Press in the spring of 2017. It is titled, Keeping Place: Reflections on the Meaning of Home. Stay tuned!