The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
To the chief Musician, A Song or Psalm. Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:"Handfuls of Purpose"
For All Gleaners
"If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me"—Psalm 66:18
The notion is that a man is professedly praying and is at the same time really forming some unkind or wicked scheme in his heart. The morality of the Bible is thus brought into strong view. It will have everything right at the core, and not on the surface only. It will not have prayer regarded in its detached relation, but will search into all the circumstances and conditions of the heart which is professedly praying. We must bring a whole heart to the altar of prayer if our supplications are to be answered. Suppose that a man is praying for the forgiveness of his sins, and is at the same time considering in his heart how he may punish his adversaries, that man's prayer is an empty wind which will never reach the heavens to which it is addressed. If we are praying for great mercies upon our household, and withholding that which is due from the labourer, our prayer will be wasted breath. If we are orthodox in doctrine and heterodox in conduct, our heterodoxy will keep our prayers out of heaven. A wonderful revelation this of the penetrating spirit of the Bible. It searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men; it is sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow; the word of the Lord is a candle by which the heart is searched. All this, though terrible in one aspect and almost discouraging, is yet when viewed in its fullest relations, most assuring and comforting. It protects us against the prayers of wicked and unworthy men. We know that our enemies cannot pray against us, because being our enemies they cannot pray at all. The Lord will not hear any man whose heart is hard towards his brother.
It is in vain that I seek mercy for myself if I will not extend it to those who have wronged me. Except we forgive we cannot be forgiven. If we forgive not men from our hearts, neither will our Father in heaven forgive us. Again and again we come upon the holy thought that we are in reality just what we are in our heart or in our thought. A comforting reflection lies here, namely, that if our heart be free from guile, no matter how poor our words may be, they shall find acceptance in heaven. Not the prayer that is eloquent in language, but the prayer that is eloquent in sincerity, will be heard and answered from on high. Extend forgiveness to those who have trespassed against you, if you would be sure that your prayers will ascend to heaven and bring back answers of holy peace.