Part 2 – Psalm 34:15 – A Look at God’s Heart

Psalm 34:15 (NKJV) — 15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.

The second part of this verse continues to give us a look at the heart of our God.

“His ears are open to our prayers”

As our prayers are personal to us, they are more personal to Him. He isn’t merely hearing our words; He is listening with a Father’s loving heart. Here are some additional scriptures that paint the same vivid picture of God’s Fatherly love and listening heart:

Job 36:7 — He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous; But they are on the throne with kings, For He has seated them forever, And they are exalted.

Psalm 33:18 — Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy,

Psalm 145:18–19 — The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

Matthew 7:11 — If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Who are These People Who Have God’s Ear?

Psalm 34:15 and I Peter 3:12 tell us that God is involved in the prayers of a particular people. We must be clear on this point for the simple reason that God has made it clear and specific in these passages and the reason of scripture. God is attentive to the prayers of “the just” or “the righteous.” Who are the “the just” and “the righteous?” Are these general terms? The Spirit of God has carefully defined them so that we can know what God is promising to whom, and therefore have confidence in our prayers.

According to the Bible, these terms do not refer to people who are kind-hearted or who do charitable deeds (Luke 18:19). They are not religious labels that are earned from keeping the Ten Commandments (as if anyone could), or from attending and/or joining a local church (Galatians 2:16). These terms have nothing to do with a physical, intellectual, ethnic, or social category (Philippians 3:3-9). No one can spiritually evolve to a sinless or esoteric state of righteousness (Luke 18:9–14). Being made “just” is a gift of God’s love for those redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ (Romans 5:8-11; 18-19). Jesus Christ is the One who makes a person “just” and “righteous” (I Corinthians 1:30). By the way, if you try to add to His salvific work, “you are severed from Christ … you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Salvation is from Christ alone; by faith alone; through His grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-10).

I recommend looking each of the scripture references up and feeding on the manna that the Lord is saying to you.

Okay, I think the scriptures hit that nail on the head and hammered the truth into us too far to be pulled out and misconstrued. So be careful not to add your own considerations and opinions to what God’s Word says. On the lighter side, Mark Twain’s humorous understanding of meriting heaven is a reminder that we’re not as righteous as we think we are.

Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.

Twain was closer to orthodoxy than he knew. Heaven does go by favor. You’re in by Jesus’ favor or not at all. If by faith you have embraced the righteousness of Christ as your spiritual position and identity, then you are “the just” and “the righteous” referred to in Psalm 34:15 and I Peter 3:12. Pretty simple, wouldn’t you say? No working, just believing and trusting. Now let that faith and trust work out in a life that follows Him.

There’s a flip-side to our texts–Psalm 34:15 & I Peter 3:12. It isn’t so warm and fuzzy. That’s coming in the next post.

As those whom have been made righteous by Christ Jesus, let us rejoice in Him. Let our hearts be filled with thanksgiving. Let this joy of salvation flow like a river out of our souls. As II Corinthians 2:15 says, let us be “the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” We have something to joyful about, a joy that should sustain for a life-time … and beyond. Amen?!

A caution flag for the reader:

Do not let familiarity with the simplicity of Psalm 34:15 allow your mind to “check-off” this verse from your theological “got-it” list. This verse of scripture (as with I Peter 3:12) is the Gospel. It is because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that this is real and can be believed and can be stood upon. The Spirit of God wants us to burn the message of this verse(s) into our minds, souls, into our view of God, and our view of ourselves. My advice is to put this verse before you and recite it to yourself daily when you begin praying. Remind yourself of the depth of what Jesus Christ has made you and accomplished for you. Let the Gospel of Jesus Christ within this verse(s) direct, establish, and motivate your fellowship with God the Father.  These verses are life-changers, because the truth of the Gospel changes lives.

Psalm 34:15 – A Picture of God’s Heart

“It is YOUR PRAYER that He listens for,” Paul encouraged. “WHAT IF … the Lord is always waiting for you to pray to Him? WHAT IF … when you put your mind on Him and reached out to Him, He was right there waiting, listening, and welcoming you to share from your heart? Mark, what if?” (from:  A Reason to Pray at Mountainview)

In the novel Mark Terrell had more doubt than faith when it came to prayer. He was convinced by his feelings, physical senses, and his circumstances that the Father God didn’t care about what he had to say. To Mark, God had checked out of his personal life years ago. Mark’s new friend countered the doubt with scripture. After all, faith comes when we accept and embrace the promises of God from the scriptures (Romans 10:17).

Knowing God’s heart towards prayer should give us a ground breaking reason to make time to pray. The promises that were shared with Mark Terrell swallowed the doubts and fears that haunted him when he wanted to pray. The promises were simple, but Mark found them to be deep and powerful enough to awaken his heart with fresh hope. The promises are found in Psalm 34:15.

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.”

The priceless message in Psalm 34:15 is quoted in the New Testament by the Apostle Peter in his first letter to the early Church—I Peter 3:12. The message remains for the NT Christian as it was for saints of the OT.

A Picture of God’s Heart – Psalm 34:15

The ancient Hebrew language is a picture language. The intent of the writer is to create a picture in our minds to help convey his message. Our scripture text gives a wonderful picture of how much God delights in our prayers and how personal our prayers are to Him. The two descriptive phrases in that text tell us about God’s love towards His righteous ones. Each phrase holds a promise from God. The first one is:

“The eyes of the Lord are upon the just”

We are always before His eyes. We always have His attention. He never turns His back on us or has a lapse of interest in us. His attention is constantly towards you and for you. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:168, “…for all my ways are before You.” For many people, knowing that everything that they do, think, and say is before God is uncomfortable. But if you are In Christ–cleansed and made whole by His redeeming work, then this verse should have the opposite effect.  Our ways are before Him not as a condemning judge watching and waiting for us to mess up (that’s a giv’me). He is our God, Father, Savior, Comforter, and Keeper. I don’t want to be outside of His eyes for one second, and neither should you if you’re His beloved. I need His ever-watchful eye; His ever-caring heart; His ever-covering grace when I am awake and when I am asleep.

Seeing the picture in Psalm 34:15 should bring peace and joy. It reassures us that God will never lose interest in who we are or with our company. When you sit down to pray, remind yourself of the promise from God the Father in Psalm 34:15.

“Father, I am so grateful that Your eyes are on me, and as I pray You are ever-present in love and grace. This is all because of Jesus Christ. Bless the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

Prayer: How much of it is about me?

“Maybe I have been bringing my own agenda to the table when I’ve prayed. Maybe that’s a part of the reason it’s like talking to the ceiling. Maybe that’s why I struggle to make time to pray. It’s too much about me!”    (from my novel:  A Reason to Pray at Mountainview)

When examining your prayers and devotional time, ask:

  • How much (quality and quantity) is about me and how much is about God and His will? For instance, when you pray, how much of it is a one-way conversation?
  • How much is spent on a list of temporary wants or circumstances that you want God to change?
  • How much is spent on learning about Him through the Scripture?

We can easily forget that prayer is more than taking requests to God. Petitions and intercession for others are important and He desires us to do that, after all we need Him to meet our needs and give us mercy and grace in times of need. Yet there is more, much more in this spiritual exercise called prayer. Since God is infinite in all that He is—His attributes and character—it would be reasonable to conclude that He has created prayer for more than making requests. There is more, much more.

What? Prayer isn’t about me? Nope! Prayer isn’t all about me .. or you! Most of us are too full of ourselves the rest of day. Yep, I said that. It is a good thing that prayer isn’t about me. The living God, our God, wants us to focus on Him. God created us to fully enjoy Him and prayer is a part of fully enjoying Him. From prayer we learn to grow and tap into His grace which molds us into the glorious image of the Son. From Scripture we discover His promises and in prayer we embrace them. From prayer we find joy and peace that is unearthly and exists only in the Prince of Peace. Prayer is about Him.

This may sound simplistic, but I would challenge you to take the time to search your faith and how you express it–especially in devotional time with Him, and note how much of your will and your agenda is promoted over His will and Name. Jesus reminded us in His teaching on how to pray to put the Father at the beginning, through every step, and then Jesus reminds us at the end that it is still about the Father.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name.”

“For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

It’s all about Him–the Eternal One; the Sovereign One; the Perfect One.

“Father, help us to move ourselves from the forefront and make You and Your kingdom first in our prayers. I am sorry that we keep telling You want we want You to do instead of seeking Your will and purpose in our situations. All that we ask, whether it is a need or Your favor, we surrender all to Your perfect will and good pleasure. May Your Spirit continue to conform us into the image of the Son. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

Prayer: There are Boundaries?

“Mark, IF you want to know God and His promises, IF you want to understand how He works in the lives of men through prayer, including WHY God does WHAT He does, then put these two–Scripture and Prayer–together.”
(from my novel:  A Reason to Pray at Mountainview)

Did you know that your practice of prayer must be within the rules, the boundaries, and the requirements of prayer that God has set down in scripture? Someone may argue, “I don’t have any boundaries or requirements when I talk to God. That would be legalism! I just say what is on my mind.”

That may sound sincere and fundamentally true, but it is not in line with scripture. Why should someone think that they could approach God and expect His attention and favor outside of the way that He has established? Were the Israelites allowed to merely throw anything down on an Alter and believe that it would be acceptable to God? Was a priest allowed to follow his own ideas of how to worship God? Of course not; God gave detailed instructions on how He was to be approached, what was acceptable; and how to offer prayers and offerings.

This didn’t change in the New Testament. Jesus corrected erroneous practices of prayer in His Sermon on the Mount. He makes it clear that certain ways of praying are not received by the Father.  I challenge you to read Matthew 6:5-8 and notice at least two wrong ways to pray and two correct ways to pray.

A few examples of prerequisites to prayer are found in the scriptures below. If these aren’t met, your prayers are bouncing off the proverbial ceiling.

1 Timothy 2:5John 14:6Hebrews 11:6

Did you notice them, or read right past them? The prerequisites in the verses above are absolutes; they are theological boundaries. They are not as shallow or simplistic as we have made them to be. The Holy Spirit leads the humble within these boundaries and He confirms them with His word. The scriptures are given to us to learn the truth about God and His ways. Though we can learn some things about Him from other sources, such as His creation, we must rely upon the Scriptures as the final authority to discern truth from error. We should also use the Scriptures as a filter and a fountain to drink in the truth.

Scripture not only teaches us what God requires from us, but also what we can expect from Him. Therefore, having scripture as a part of your prayer time will help guide you in orthodoxy—in right belief, as well as with orthopraxy—right practice. Psalm 119:130 tells us that the entrance of His Word gives light and understanding. This applies to the subject of prayer as with all areas of truth. You and I need light to guide us, to search our hearts, and to show us the Father and the Father’s will in prayer. Psalm 119:169-172 is a good example of how God’s Word brings our prayers in line with God’s will.

Someone will say, “This sounds like you need to know the Bible before you can pray?” That is not what Jesus taught, as recorded in Matthew 6, and that’s not what I am saying. God gives us truth in His word to guide and help us. Our hearts and minds need these boundaries because we are prone to humanistic mindsets. We are prone to want to be our own gods–take the throne seat, make up rules around ourselves, and require God to adhere to them. Oh, but we do. If we are not trying to be gods, we are trying to earn or work for God’s favor. Or we are prone to interpret through our experiences and feelings–wow! that’s dangerous!

Jesus wants us to pray with simplicity, sincerity, and single-mindedness.


If you discovered in the scripture that you have been stepping outside the boundaries lines of biblical prayer in either the way (manner) that you pray … or … what you pray, how serious of an issue would it be to you? Just asking. We love our own ways and change ruffles the feathers. So, I’m just wondering how important it would be to you. The more you learn about how God works in prayer, the more you are drawn to Him. This is one of my motives to pursue God in prayer and the scriptures. He’s calling us to fellowship with Him through His word and prayer.

If you’re interesting in learning more about prayer, grab my books.

Prayer: From Right Belief to Right Practice

There are two theological words that can help us understand both the difference between and a dependence upon having a sound, biblical definition of prayer and a practical exercise of prayer:

1.   Orthodoxy – literally: “right praise” or “right belief” (as opposed to error and heresy). To be orthodox in your faith implies that your beliefs are founded exclusively in and on Scripture. If that is the case, then it also means that your fundamental beliefs are in line with the historical Christian faith that has been recognized, proclaimed, and supported by the teachings, creeds, and liturgy of the Church over the last 2,000+ years. What we embrace and claim to be an orthodox faith must be a part of the “common faith” or “common salvation” that was taught by the apostles and writers of Scriptures. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus,

Ephesians 2:20–21 — having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

And we find more on this in Jude 3-4:

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

See also Titus 1:4.

2.   Orthopraxy – means reflective, responsive action, or the practical expression of truth. It literally means: “right practice.” As we learn “orthodoxy,” we learn to live it out and experience it = “orthopraxy.”

Why are these words important, you ask? Because your theology of prayer determines your belief, that is, your view of prayer, which determines:

  • Your mode or method of prayer
  • Your frequency and length of time in prayer
  • Your attitude towards and during prayer
  • Who you are praying to
  • How you think God sees you when you pray to Him
  • What you should and should not pray
  • What you do after you pray—hope, faith, actions.

The How, Why, What, When, and Where you pray is based on your theology of prayer, which is what you believe to be true about prayer (orthodoxy) and thus how you put your beliefs into practice (orthopraxy). Another reason to examine your theology of God and prayer is to make sure that we don’t flip the order of these two theological words. It is always “orthodoxy” and then “orthopraxy.” Correct belief drives and guides correct living.

Be in guard, our Christian culture has has a way of putting Orthopraxy before Orthodoxy, which is putting personal experience as the driving influence of what and how we believe.  Let me repeat this:  We should never let our experiences, including those we tag “religious” or “spiritual,” define and guide how, why, and what we pray. Feelings and experiences will change and deceive you. Let the scriptures frame and guide you in prayer.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I know enough about what the Scripture says on the subject of prayer to know if my prayers are biblical?
  • Have I accepted any non-biblical influences or ideas into my theology of prayer?

More on this issue coming.