1 Chronicles 29:18 (KJV) 18 O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee:
Can our sovereign and loving God work in our hearts—people’s hearts—without violating our free will? I guess He can. We may not fully understand how He does it, but He can. Otherwise, there’s no point praying for Him to make His people want to obey Him. We’ve seen clear examples and explicit passages in the Scriptures showing this. God changed the heart of Saul (1 Sam. 10:9); He prophesied about giving His people a new heart (Jer. 24:7); He directs the king’s heart like rivers of water (Prov. 21:1); David prayed for God to give him a clean heart (Ps. 51:10).
Yes He can, and Yes He does work in people’s hearts. This is not however a removal of free will, or cancelling of our responsibility. In fact, we see clearly in the Scriptures how Saul turned away from God, how Solomon turned his heart towards the gods of his wives, how one king after another chose to rebel against God, and how His Old Covenant people repeatedly disobeyed God. We as His people weren’t made robots when we placed our full dependence on Him to save us and surrendered our lives to Him.
We were made new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we still obviously have a choice whether we obey or disobey Him, whether we abide in Him or not, whether we live faithfully or not, whether we deny Him or not. God won’t fail; if He says He’ll give us new hearts, He will. In fact, for believers, He already has. What we do with our God-given new hearts is up to us. As for me, and I pray my entire household, we will worship and serve Him faithfully—wholeheartedly.