“The prayer of the upright is His delight” Prov. 15:8
When I was a preschooler my mother was usually the one who tucked me in at night. She taught me to kneel down beside the bed to pray before climbing in. I had memorized prayers taught by her and reciting them was a pleasant thing. Mother was a woman of prayer and exercised this gift for several hours each day of her very busy life. It was as natural to her as breathing.
Alas, she did not pass on that gene to me, her son. I sometimes find deliberate prayer a chore and hard work even though it is one of my responsibilities as a minister of the Gospel. How is prayer found to be a delight? What can we do to be joyful in this spiritual exercise and responsibility?
First, I believe we need to see the joy that our Father in heaven has in hearing our voices. The emotional life of God is not spoken of by many Bible expositors yet He chooses to use these “human” terms to describe Himself. God has “delight” in prayer. To Him it is a source of pleasure to hear our voices as we address Him with our expressions of worship, submission, and petition.
This means that we have access to God without fear if we are His children. We must see that the verse we consider tells us that it is the “upright” who delight God with their prayers. But what does the writer mean by “upright”?
So often in Scripture we read verses that tell us God is pleased with the humble hearted and is distant from the proud. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted.” Psalm 34:18; “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17; Isa. 57:15 “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit”.
To please God with our prayers we must be humble before Him. We cannot come to our Creator thinking we deserve His ear. There is no place for an attitude that says we are doing God a favour by approaching Him. There was a proud man in the temple praying that Jesus talked about in Luke 18:10ff. Jesus said that the proud man prayed to himself and his prayer had no benefit. However the other man there was humble and his prayer was heard.
God tells us that He knows the proud from a distance Psalm 138:6. We can identify with God’s attitude toward the proud in our personal experience. The one who brags about their accomplishments and demonstrates an air of importance is most often the very person we avoid or merely tolerate if we must be in their presence.
On the other hand, the one who seems more interested in us than themselves, that is the person we identify with best. It is important to consider our attitude about ourselves if we wish to give God pleasure in our prayers and if we desire to find prayer a joyful activity.
God does wish us to pray to Him and He has given everything from promises to present to Him in prayer to commands to pray. There is much in between those two ends of the spectrum that could be spoken of but we have limited space for each devotion.
The important thing is to pray to God yourself. I often suggest to people who are not in the habit of praying that they start with the prayer of the man in the temple, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This prayer is the minimum and the most important need we have. We need forgiveness from God more than our next breath of air.
Then, each night, pray the prayer that Mary, like all Jewish mothers of her day, undoubtedly taught Jesus when He was first learning to pray at her knee. “Into Your hands I commit my spirit”. Later we will say more on how to pray, here is where it starts.
I Psalm 37:4 we read, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Those who love God and delight in His company will always seek to do what pleases and honours Him. If we truly love our wife and children we will only do those things that are for their good whatever the cost to us. A truly loving parent or spouse would go as far, if necessary, to lay down their life for the loved ones.
If we love God we will constantly be praying for His will to be done, not ours if it is at variance from God’s. Will you delight the heart of God today by praying?