The Prayer of a Prepared Heart

Michael Beck

“LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.” (Psalm 10:17,18)

Stephen made intercession for Saul when the rabid religionist was at his hardened worst. His prayer was one of the greatest miracles in the book of Acts. Why? Because it is so easy to invite God to smite our persecutors who remain justified in their treatment of us. But it is difficult, even naturally impossible, for us to ask Him to bless and help those who curse us and wish us harm.

The oppressed long for deliverance and desire justice. They cry out in their affliction. But if the Lord is to answer their cries, He must “prepare their hearts” to pray an acceptable prayer. Stephen’s intercession was a sweet smelling savor of the Son to the Father. It was a prayer God delighted to answer.

We might be fine with God vaporizing our enemies, but the Lord takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Saul of Tarsus was a raging bull who felt his religion threatened by this new sect that had arose. God delivered the early church from this “man of the earth” who oppressed them, not through their calling down the fire of God upon him, but through prayers that he be forgiven and saved from his folly.

We so often don’t know how to pray as we ought. We react to wrong in the fire of our own spirit – wanting God’s fire to join our fire. We ask amiss, praying for vengeance upon others, instead of pleading for their salvation. We don’t know what manner of spirit we are of (Luke 9:55). We are bereft of God’s Spirit when we are mighty in our own spirit.

We must let the Holy Spirit help our infirmities if we are to pray aright. If we are to be truly strong in Him we must be dependent on Him to order our thoughts and emotions. Anger that would drive us to hasty actions and unwise prayers must be put off. When we are at our angriest and most retaliatory, it is time to run to the Lord and let Him form in us His heart and response. He must first prepare our heart to pray, and then He will wonderfully answer our prayer. He will work within us to cause His ear to hear.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.