The Prayer of the Upright
1. Who are the wicked?
a. Wicked: a criminal; a guilty one; one guilty of crime against man or sin against God; unrighteous; i.e., pertaining to being evil; with a focus on the guilt of violating a standard.
b. The man or woman described here as wicked would refer to any unsaved person.
• a sinner; unrighteous; guilty before God.
• This would be the most natural understanding of the term.
c. It could also refer to a true believer who is behaving like a wicked person…
• And that occurs all too often!
• A believer can also be guilty of sinning against God… or violating God’s standard… or of committing a crime against a man.
• The fallen heart of the believer is STILL desperately wicked. It does not improve with time.
d. Thus, the wicked here could refer to any person (saved or unsaved) whose heart is not right with God and/or man.
2. Who are the upright?
a. Upright Defined: correct; straight; level; right; just; righteous.
b. To be right with God required salvation through faith.
c. Thus, the upright is the righteous man… the godly… the one who has entered the straight gate and walks the straight and narrow road…
d. This is the believer who does things right… he lives for God… his heart is right before God.
1. Religious men sacrifice many things for God… but God hates it. It is an abomination to Him!
2. Consider the COST of some of the sacrifices men made in the Old Testament times.
a. II Chron. 35:7-9 – 35,000 bulls offered!
b. For a family to offer up a bullock or a goat sacrifice was quite costly.
c. Think of the sacrifices that the ascetics put themselves through… and for God!
d. Think of the sacrifices made for God among the Roman or Buddhist monks… or the Muslims who cut their heads for God and parade through the streets bleeding…
e. Think of the sacrifices that were made to build some of the lavish gold temples around the world… the Mormon temple… the gold mosques in Saudi Arabia… the Hindu temples…
f. Think of the sacrifices made by the worshippers of Chemosh in offering their children in a sacrifice of fire to their deity!
g. Sacrifices are often quite costly.
3. Yet regardless of the COST of the sacrifice, if the heart attitude in offering it was not right, it was an abomination to the Lord. If it was not offered in spirit and in truth—it was an abomination to the Lord.
1. Prayer on the other hand, does not cost a million dollars. You don’t have to give up the family bull or goat.
2. Prayer is a quite simple thing… talking to your heavenly Father.
3. The prayer of the upright is a prayer that is prayed with a right spirit… the right way.
4. Prayer is a child talking to his father… having communion and fellowship with his father… and enjoying his company.
5. Prayer is simple, heart to heart communion between a child of God and his heavenly Father.
6. And prayer is free. Sacrifices are costly, but prayer is free.
1. No matter how many sacrifices are offered from the wicked… or how costly… or how much effort was involved, God hates all sacrifices offered from a wicked heart.
2. They are repulsive to Him.
a. Prov. 21:27 – it is an abomination because it is offered with a wicked mind (intent; purpose; plan)
• God knows what’s going on in the mind as the sacrifice is offered.
• The wicked mind can devise all kinds of reasons to offer sacrifice to God: an attempt to atone for our sin; to restore fellowship = a lack of confidence in the blood of Christ; a cloak for maliciousness; pretense; pride; showmanship; to be seen of men…
b. Prov. 28:9 – even the prayer of the wicked is an abomination!
• All religious activity on the part of the wicked is hypocrisy… it is a cloak for his sin…
• God is not impressed with the thousands of little old ladies saying their rosary beads… not if they have not received Christ as Savior and are earnestly seeking Him.
• God is not impressed with a room full of people here at our prayer meetings… if we are harboring SIN in our hearts at the same time we come to the throne of grace in prayer!
• If we behave in a wicked way—even our prayers are an abomination to God.
• Flowery prayers can dazzle and fool men—but will never fool the Lord.
1. Delight: pleasure; delight; favour; goodwill.
2. When the heart is right, everything changes!
a. The sacrifice that was an abomination (when the heart was not right) is now a delight to God!
b. The prayer that was not heard is now heard!
c. Sin in the heart makes our prayers an abomination; confession and forsaking sin makes our prayer God’s delight!
3. The simple saint who but talks to God brings DELIGHT to the Father’s heart.
a. What human father wouldn’t delight in sitting down to have a heart to heart talk with his son or daughter about the issues of their heart… things on their minds… their concerns… their burdens… their problems.
b. And when the child initiates that talk… (which is what prayer is) so much more delightful!
• That is an expression of LOVE for his father…
• The child DESIRES to spend time with his father… talking, communing, and fellowshipping with his father.
• A good father would WANT his children to come to him for help… guidance… comfort… direction…
• It is healthy for the lines of communication to be OPEN between the father and his children.
• When that is NOT the case, those kids (starved for attention from dad) are going to seek out guidance, comfort, and direction in life elsewhere! And you may not like the source!
• As earthly fathers, we can learn from our heavenly Father.
• Our heavenly Father is equally DELIGHTED when we come to Him with our problems, concerns, and burdens.
• It is no burden to Him… but His delight.
• John 4:23-24 – the father SEEKS such to worship Him in spirit and in truth… to commune with Him.
» He desires us to come to Him in prayer.
4. Praying and sacrifice that bring delight to God are examples of service that is the FRUIT of the new life… not religious labor to obtain life.
a. A new life empowered by the Holy Spirit will naturally result in the sacrifice of praise and prayer.
b. Rom. 8:15 – prayer prompted by the Holy Spirit.
• Prayer is the FRUIT of the Holy Spirit… or the evidence of Spirit filling.
• When filled with the Spirit, we will be a praying people… crying out continually: Abba, Father! Many, many times throughout the day!
• Eph. 5:18-20 states that the evidence of Spirit filling is singing in the heart TO the Lord… and thanksgiving UNTO God. That is prayer. (Communication directed to God… whether through music or just words…)
• Prayer and praise directed to God as prompted by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and vocalized by a yielded child of God is always a DELIGHT to God the Father.
5. Prov. 15:29 – God does not hear the prayers of the wicked, but He DOES hear the prayer of the upright.
a. It is not that God is unable to hear the prayers of the wicked, or that He is ignorant of what they are saying in their prayers. He knows their hearts.
b. It is that God CHOOSES not to hear them… BECAUSE He knows their heart!
6. He not only hears our prayers, but delights in them!
a. And this too is BECAUSE God knows our hearts. When our hearts are pure, our prayers are delightful to God.
b. Rev.2:3-4 – (and Rev.5:8)
» Prayer is illustrated as “SWEET INCENSE ascending to heaven.”
» The smell of it is sweet to God. It brings Him delight. (anthropomorphism)
c. I Kings 3:10 – Solomon’s speech pleased the Lord—because he asked for wisdom and not riches.
» God does not delight in the mere movement of our lips… but what it is we express!
» Solomon expressed his helplessness and his need and the Father delighted to answer that prayer.
» Solomon knows from experience that the prayer of the upright is a delight to God.
» DO you want to please your heavenly Father? Keep on praying—out of an upright heart.
7. REASONS God is delighted with the prayer of the upright:
a. I John 5:14 – The Father delights in our prayers because prayer is an expression of our CONFIDENCE in God.
b. Phil. 4:6 – The Father delights in our prayer when it is an expression of confidence in God in EVERYTHING… every tiny detail of life.
c. John 14:13-14 – The Father delights in our prayers in Christ’s name because through that prayer, the Father is glorified in the Son.
8. That Which Brings God DELIGHT
a. Ps. 19:14 – “acceptable” = same word as delight. Our prayer should be that our words and meditation be a DELIGHT to God. Are they?
b. Col. 1:10 – a worthy walk can be “all pleasing” to God.
c. Col. 3:20 – children obeying their parents is well pleasing to the Lord.
d. Prov. 12:22 – God delights in truth.
e. Ps. 103:21 – ministers who do His pleasure (same word as delight—bring Him delight). We can delight God through our ministry… IF our heart is right with Him.
f. Prov. 11:1 – a just weight is His delight too! (a man whose uprightness spills over into his job.) Honesty!