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Question (arose because of illness in the family):

I'm wondering what you think about this...

Our son has had several teachers send us e-mails that they are praying for us. One specifically said, "I will pray for you (during surgery)." Our son said, "Mom, he's not a Christian." I have always thought that the Lord "didn't hear" the prayers of sinners. I know He hears the prayer of repentance, though. When we harbor sin in our hearts, our prayers are hindered. Do you think He acts when an unsaved person prays? I'm just curious...

Answer:

First of all if you ever fully understand prayer, let me know.  How can any prayer change the course of events if God already knows how things turn out before we pray.  Of course, He knew that we would pray and that He would respond too didn't He?  This gets complicated but to stay simple:

In Acts 10:
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

This man was unsaved but God was hearing his prayers.  Likely they were the ritualistic prayers of a Jewish convert.  In Luke 18:13 we have the prayer of repentance that God hears and answers.  By experience, I have talked to many unsaved people that seem to have had their prayers answered.  Just read about some of the daring escapes from death that are recorded in Readers Digest, etc.

My answer could be better on this one so I reserve the right to change my mind.  But I think God always hears the cry of his creatures.  I do not
think he communes with any but the saved, or the born again or true worshippers. Both would be considered prayers.  If he didn't hear the prayer of the unsaved, by extension, could he hear the prayer of those away from the Lord? The Psalm that talks about harboring sin (iniquity) in your heart probably refers to praying for revenge or something evil to happen--in other words I think it is praying for what we know is really an evil result.  If it means that God won't hear because I got mad at my wife, or I have problems controlling my food intake or my thought life or my temper, probably none of us would ever have our prayers answered since we have a sin nature that lurks in our hearts (Ps 66:18).

First of all we really don't know who is saved so I would never discourage people from talking to the living God of heaven (even on my behalf), it might change them even if it doesn't change things.  (I would never encourage a known demon worshipper or Wiccan to pray to their God for me, though.  Their gods have power that I want no part of.)   However, only the saved have the privilege of the fellowship of true communion with God but all have the right to approach a sovereign God.

May this teach you to ask a simple question so you can get a complex answer.


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