Expectant Prayers ®

Jennifer Jo Weiss

Does God Hear the Prayers of Unbelievers?

I was up late on Saturday night watching one of my favorite local preachers answer questions his weekly call-in show. One caller had a few questions regarding a book she was reading about prayer.  The caller said in the book, the author said that prayer is a privilege for the Christian and that God hears their prayers (and the caller suggested that this meant that God does not hear the prayers of unbelievers).  The caller also made mention that the book said we don't pray to statues... He is a living God.   First of all, without knowing what the caller was reading, it's hard to surmise what point the author was trying to make.  It could be that the caller was misinterpreting what was said... who knows?  I also wonder why someone would ask such questions unless they were in disagreement with what was said... but this does bring up a good point - does God hear the prayers of unbelievers? 

The pastor did his best to respond, but I felt a little disappointed with some of his answers (which rarely happens because he is such a man of the Word).  We're all human, however, and I realize he's not perfect -but most of the time he's pretty close!  He was not wrong in his answers necessarily, but I felt like some of them left a window open for more questions.   


Let me say also that in my experiences, many times people ask questions about Christianity not because they are interested in becoming one, but rather because they want to have justification for what they believe or how they live.  Often enough, that means they are living apart from God’s Word.  They are looking for us to tell them, “It’s okay how you live because we’ll all end up in heaven.”    Friends, this is NOT true!

Back to the call in show….


Keeping it all in context - There were a few Scriptures quoted (by the author) and the caller noted them in her comments. The pastor spent a great deal of time emphasizing "keeping things in context".  Let me point out again, perhaps the caller was not keeping the author’s words in context either.  As far as the Scripture references, he felt like their specific usage of certain verses was not appropriate to back up the statements.  I agree with that for the most part.  The verses were a little obscure- if indeed they were used for that particular purpose.   But then he said, “You can’t just use one verse.”  I don’t think he meant it like it sounded, but honestly, that comment was a little vague.  Many comments can and do stand on their own.  Take for instance John 3:16!


 I have to say that the majority of preachers I know do NOT quote entire passages during their sermons to keep verses in context.   Most pull out single verses to support points and hopefully those points are consistent with the context and support teachings confirmed throughout the entirety of the Word.  I think what we have here is a failure on many ministers to actually study and know the Word.  It's sad but true.  The Bible is multifaceted and will continue to speak (as the Living Word) in new and fresh ways every time you read it.  What sticks out one day will be different the next.  We must keep in mind, however, that whatever points we try to make must be verified through the Spirit of the entire Word, not just based on one verse.

Is prayer a privilege for the Christian?   I would have to say that praying is a privilege for the Christian, but is not limited to believers.   Praying is a privilege for everyone because we are talking to GOD!  That's nothing to be minimized.   As Christians, however, it is an invaluable tool and unlimited resource.  Prayer is key to our relationship with God!  


Does God hear the prayers of unbelievers?  God hears everything no matter what it is!  His very nature is one of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence-therefore He hears and knows everything.    God hears all prayers, but does He listen and/or answer? 


Does God answer everyone’s prayers (believer and non-believer)?  God is under no obligation to answer anyone (especially specific demands that may be contrary to His will), but He may choose to answer anyone's prayers.    It’s like me picking up the phone in my kitchen and just dialing any random number that pops into my head (like a telemarketer would).  The person on the other end may pick up the phone… or maybe they wouldn’t.  Some people would talk to me, others would not.    We could even consider that God choosing not to answer is actually an answer!


Does God listen to all prayers?  Listening implies paying attention to.  It suggests action.  Certainly the Word confirms that He knows His sheep and the sheep know His voice.  God knows who follows Him and the Word says the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears are open to their cries.    God definitely listens to the righteous when they pray, but may or may not choose to listen to the prayers of the unrighteous.


When would God answer sinner’s prayers?  God knows our hearts.  He can righteously judge whether or not an answered prayer would influence an unbeliever. There’s a matter of holding a certain level of trust and dependence on the part of the one praying.  Again, God knows the heart of the one making the request.  

It makes me think of people involved in mortal danger, crisis, or even on their death bed who cry out to God in their hour of need.

The Word tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  It is God who draws the hearts of men and leads them to repentance.  We were sinners when we prayed the sinner’s prayer and God answered!  I would say there are probably daily instances of when God answers sinner’s prayers which either leads them to repentance or to bring them into God’s family (a sinner confessing Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead- Romans 10:9)  It’s important to know that God’s ways are not our ways.  He does not wish for anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance.


Do Christians have special prayer privileges?  Yes, we have a lot of privileges by being part of God’s family.  We become adopted into the heavenly kingdom.  He is our Father and we are His children.  The Word tells us He hears the prayers of the righteous.  He defends the righteous.  He provides for the righteous.  He instructs the path of the righteous.  These are all things that most of us pray about!   He says if we ask anything in His name, according to His will, it will be done for us!  The Word tells us the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective!



Don’t all prayers go to the same God? The Word also says that we are to have no other Gods before Him.  This is where my concern was with the Pastor’s answer.  He said to the caller that it doesn’t matter if the one praying was Hindu, Muslim, or whatever… God hears your prayers.  I am trusting that this Pastor didn’t mean it the way it sounded: that we all serve the same God.  That is not the case. Try telling that to Elijah where he dug the ditch around the sacrifice and so did the pagans who followed their false Gods.  Elijah even poured water over his sacrifice and the water filled the ditch.  All day long, the pagans prayed to their god to consume the sacrifice… it never happened.   God Himself mocked the pagan (false) god.  At the end of the day, Elijah’s sacrifice was totally consumed- nothing left.  God answered Elijah’s prayer in a mighty display of strength and power.


There are not many faiths or roads that lead to the same God contrary to what many are teaching today.  There is only one way, one God; He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – the One who sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for you and me.  Only those who believe in Christ and have made confession (in an act of repentance) will be saved.


Have you made it out to see "Fireproof"?  I am planning on it!

Here's what my friend Valerie had to say: 

"Hi Jenni! Gerald and I went on a date last night and we saw the movie, "Fireproof". It was awesome and highly recommended! We loved it!!!!!!!!"


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