To wish is to be human. God created human beings with emotions and passions. When we wish, we acknowledge that there is something outside of our control that we strongly desire. In Revelation 3:15, Jesus says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” He gave human beings free will and, in doing so, intentionally allows us the freedom to choose Him or not. When on earth, Jesus expressed another “wish” when He said, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49). He knew the crucifixion was approaching, and after that He would pour out the Holy Spirit upon His followers (Acts 1:8). Jesus longed to send the Spirit, but knew He first had to undergo the horror of the crucifixion. His “wish” was not wrong. It was human.
A wish can be the forerunner of change. If the wish is based on truth and positive change, it can become a goal and then reality. However, a wish can be wrong if we give it precedence over God’s plan for us. When Jesus, in Gethsemane, “wished” that His Father would find another way to redeem humanity, He did not end His prayer there. He did not allow His human desire to overrule God’s will. He wrestled within His spirit until He could truthfully say, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Wishing can also be wrong if our wish is directed toward something other than God Himself. To “wish upon a star” may have romantic appeal, but the star cannot help anyone. We must look to the Maker of the stars for answers to prayer, not to the stars themselves.
Wishing can also be wrong if the object of that wish is sin. For a married person to wish for someone else’s spouse is wrong (Deuteronomy 5:21). To wish obsessively for more material things or to wish for more money than you need is wrong (Proverbs 23:4; 1 Timothy 6:9–10). When a wish is based on dissatisfaction with what God has ordained for us—race, nationality, body type, or family—it is a wrong wish. Our real need is to learn to be thankful for what God has given and learn to use everything for His glory and purpose (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:16).
Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When pleasing the Lord is our greatest joy, He adjusts our wishes. He changes the desires of our hearts to line up with His desires for us—His desires become ours so that we wish for the things that delight Him. In the process, we find ourselves delighted. We can pray boldly, in accordance with His will, when we know that we want what He wants. When we wish for things that are congruent with His plan, we can pray with confidence that He hears and will answer (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14; Matthew 21:22).
The Bible actually commands us to wish for/desire wisdom (Proverbs 24:14), spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1), the Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12), the final revelation of who the children of God really are (Romans 8:19), and the salvation of others (Romans 10:1). When our wishes are centered on what God desires, we can ask God for them in faith. When we have heaven’s perspective, our wishes are sanctified, “and if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:15).