March 12th

Actions for Heard Prayers

You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. 4Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. 5Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip. 6I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech” Psalm 17:3-5 NKJV 

David regarded successful prayer as the prayer that God hears.  When we consider that God is the King of the Universe, it should amaze us when our requests are even “heard” by the King, let alone answered in the way that we’d like.  Indeed, there are many prayers that God does not hear.  We can take some key actions to ensure that God hears our prayers.  David highlights two of them in the above passage.  

The first action is to control our mouths. David made a commitment to not sin with his words.  He wrote, “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress” (3).  We too can make that commitment, though taming the tongue is one of the most difficult tasks we may ever undertake. As James wrote, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:7-8 NIV). With God’s help, the impossible becomes possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He will help us to use our words to uplift, encourage and bless, instead of criticize, discourage, and curse.  

The second action is to “keep away” from evil deeds of men and the devil.  Loading God’s word into our hearts and minds is the secret to success in this area.  David credited God’s words with helping him avoid the paths of the evil. David had immersed his mind in the Holy Scriptures. The word sharpened his discernment and wisdom such that he recognized evil and turned away from it.  The word will help us in the same way.  God’s word in our hearts functions like an internal guidance mechanism that keeps us away from evil.  Psalm 119 confirms the help of the word: How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:9-11).  

God heard David’s prayers, and he also tested David and found nothing evil.  Even so, David still asked God to continue to keep him on His path and secure his steps.  That brings up the important point that we can never be smug about the progress we make in obeying the Lord.  We must remain humble and circumspect in our walk such that we give the enemy no foothold in us for pride.  

Taming our tongues and loading God’s word into our hearts and minds will help ensure that God continues to hear our prayers, just as he heard David’s prayers.  As we receive God’s word and apply it to our daily decisions, we too can pass any testing that God may do of our hearts.  

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, Thank you for David’s honesty in the above Psalm.  Thank you that when my heart is right and sincere in Christ, you will hear my prayers.  Please forgive me for any presumptuous sin I have committed in word, thought or deed.  Please cleanse me from that sin by the blood of Jesus.  Please help me tame my tongue and use it only for good purposes.  Please help me load your word into my mind and heart daily, that I will avoid evil at all times.  Thank you, Father!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”