Q: #142. Does God hear a non-Christians prayer?
By: Steve Shirley
A: Ok... first off, I want to show a number of Bible verses that firmly establish that God doesn't hear ALL prayers.
(1 Pet 3:12) For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
(Jn 9:31) Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
(Isa 59:2) But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
(Prov 15:29) The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
(Isa 1:15) And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
(Ps 66:18) If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
(Lam 3:44) Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.
(Lam 3:8) Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer.
Also see: (Jer 7:16)(Mic 3:4)(Prov 21:13)(Prov 15:8)(Prov 28:9)(Ps 4:3)(Heb 5:7)(1 Pet 3:7)
Why doesn't God hear all prayers? Because we are ALL sinners (1 Jn 1:8,10)(Rom 3:10,23)(Eccl 7:20)(Prov 20:9)(1 Kin 8:6)(2 Chr 6:36) (Ps 130:3), and as we can see in the verses above, our sin separates us from God. The method that God has chosen to be cleansed from our sin is that a life must be sacrificed and the blood of the sacrifice be shed (Lev 17:11)(Heb 9:22). Without this atonement being made for our sin, no man can enter into God's presence.
This was pictured in the Old Testament when the blood of animals was shed for sins, and the High Priest, chosen from the tribe of Levi, would make atonement once a year for all of the people's sins by entering into the "Holy of Holies" (God's presence). These things pointed forward to what Christ would later do when He came down from Heaven to become a man.
When Jesus did come, He became our High Priest FOREVER (Heb 7:23-25). He gave His life and shed His blood on the cross to pay for our sins for eternity. When we surrender our lives to Jesus by faith, we become a child of God (Gal 3:26), and we are cleansed by His blood (Mt 26:28)(Col 1:14)(Eph 1:7).
Jesus told us that He is the way to the Father (Jn 14:6)(Mt 11:27). He is the mediator between God (the Father) and man (1 Tim 2:5)(Heb 9:15). He allows us to enter into the Father's presence (the Holy of Holies)(Heb 10:19-20). This was why when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the Temple separating God from the people was torn in two (Mt 27:51)(Mk 15:38)(Lk 23:45).
Jesus told us to pray to the Father (Mt 6:6)(Jn 15:16), with the Lord's Prayer being one example (Mt 6:9-13)(Lk 11:2-4). I believe the Bible makes it quite clear that we cannot pray to the Father unless we have been cleansed by blood that has been shed to cover our sins. Jesus has made this payment for us. I am unaware of any case in the New Testament where the prayer of any unbeliever was accepted apart from Cornelius, who God used providentially to bring salvation to the Gentiles (you and me). [However, I also strongly suspect Cornelius WAS a believer in Jesus, but salvation had not yet been offered to the Gentiles at that point.]
The first prayer that is accepted, is the prayer to Jesus, calling upon Him in faith, trust, confession of sin, and repentance. Once we do this, we can be ASSURED that our every prayer will be heard. If you have never made this decision, please go to our Plan of Salvation link to see how you can do so today.
*** Note: I realize this is a controversial point, however, I truly felt it necessary to address this because I have heard so many people say over the years that they decided God was not real because He never answered their prayers at some point in their lives. This may well be the reason why.