The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord:
but the prayer of the upright is his delight. (Proverbs 15:8)
Have you ever made someone else supremely happy? Wasn’t that a fun experience? Didn’t it fill your heart with joy when you saw how delighted they were? Perhaps it was at Christmas, or a birthday, or you surprised them with a “random act of kindness.” There is just something that wells up in our spirits when we encourage others in this way. But Proverbs 15:8 speaks of something even more joyful: giving God an occasion for delight! What is it that God delights in?
The prayer of the upright is His delight!
If God would be delighted to hear from you, wouldn’t you want to pray right now? This phrase, given to us by the Holy Spirit of God, makes the ministry of the prayer magnetic. It draws our hearts to God. If my prayerful response causes God to rejoice, then I say, “Let the festivities begin! Let’s pray!”
What has God done to prepare for this delightful practice of prayer? Let’s put together the puzzle pieces, found in three other proverbs, to help us see the big picture. Proverbs 15:29 reminds us that “The Lord is far from the wicked: but He hears the prayer of the righteous.” The problem is that every person was born wicked; there is no hope in humankind alone (Romans 3:10-19). The whole world is guilty before God.
If the Lord is “far from the wicked,” then how can there be any hope? If even “the sacrifice [the religious worship] of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,” where does that leave us? “He hears the prayer of the righteous” (15:29). How can wicked people become righteous people?
Proverbs 8:35 gives us another piece of the puzzle. “For whoso finds me finds life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord.” The word translated “favor” in this verse, is the same word translated “delight” in the verse above. In other words, it is only as God grants His favor to humble sinners that they can become righteous! The Scriptures tell us that God granted us His favor in the Person of His Son, in whom He delights: Jesus Christ. Jesus lived the righteous life that every wicked human being should have lived; then as the Substitute for sinners, He died the sinner’s death that each one should have died. Those who trust in Jesus as the only way of salvation will find that God delights in them; He declares them to be as righteous as His own Son (Romans 4:22-5:2). They “rejoice in hope of the glory of God!” The result is that God takes great delight in those whom He has made to be upright (Proverbs 11:20).
As we put these puzzle pieces together, we see the big picture. God delights in us because of what He has done in us. In the words of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” One of the greatest of these good works is prayer: “the prayer of the upright is his delight.” If you have ever worked hard to compose a note of appreciation, or make a card for a special occasion, you know how this feels. When you see the shining eyes and the smile of the one to whom you give your card, it is worth all the effort. Why? It is because they take delight in it. God delights in our prayers! Let’s be a delight to Him. If you are determined to be a delight to God, you will find the joy of prevailing prayer.