“The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous.” Proverb 15:29
When we think of “wicked” persons doing “wicked” things, we think of those who are actively engaged in destructive behavior. They are not simply “not nice”; they are deliberately mean. They set out to do harm either physically or emotionally. These “wicked” persons take some perverted pleasure in hurting people.
Conversely, the proverb also speaks of the “righteous”. In the contrasting context, then, we are compelled to look at two opposing forces. Neither is ambivalent. Both are actively engaged: one in good, the other in evil.
It is important, then, to recognize the language in the strongest possible terms. The “righteous” are not simply those who believe (“even demons believe and tremble”); they are actively engaged in good works. They are “doers of the Law” and not simply hearers. They are actively engaged in a moral life of justice and mercy. These are the ones whose prayers are heard.
We let ourselves off the hook too often for simply claiming that Jesus’ righteousness is our salvation. This is true, of course, but we must also recognize the depth of faith involved in a life of discipleship: active engagement in Jesus’ life right up to the bitter, and yet glorious end. Our time on this earth is short compared to the Life we are being prepared for in the world to come. So we must live intentionally, purposefully, and reverently in the Life to which we are called; the life that emulates Jesus’ own life. “And those who endure to the end will be saved”.