In Ezra 1:1, the Bible says “In order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia” to issue a proclamation allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Then in :5 of that same chapter, it says that “everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord” arose and went back the Promised Land from Babylon. It is interesting that in both cases, the scripture says that God “stirred” them up!
The Hebrew word for “stirred up” is “heir”, meaning “arouse, awake as if from sleep.” So it is a picture of one being “stirred” from sleep. And it says that GOD did this, both for Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia, and for the Jews in captivity in Babylon.
This teaches us that God can “stir up” people’s spirits — both the spirits of those who know Him and those who do not. In fact we learn elsewhere in scripture that He must stir us first, or we have no hope of doing right: “the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 2:14) and “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws Him” (John 6:44). Unless God “stirs up” our hearts first, none of us would do anything good (Romans 3:10-18).
So with this reminder, we should pray for God to stir hearts: “Lord, stir the hearts of Your people at our church”; “Lord, stir the hearts of (particular lost people you know)”; “Lord, stir the hearts of the people in India, Nepal” and other nations.
Things had looked bleak for Israel: they were in captivity, in a foreign land — until God “stirred the hearts” of Cyrus and His people — then everything changed. That should give hope to our country, our churches, and individual people we care about. God DOES stir hearts, Ezra teaches us. Since He does, we should pray that He would indeed “stir” hearts today: first our own, and then others, to do His will.