Does God Hear The Prayers Of Sinners?

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Published by Kimberly Wall

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Co-Founder, Disciple Group Leader, Author

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We all sin (Romans 3:23). In times of trouble, we wonder why God seems to ignore us and favor others. This isn’t unusual. Even biblical figures like David and Habakkuk questioned God’s silence (Psalm 13:1, Habakkuk 1:2). Does God ignore sinners’ prayers, or does He have larger, unknown plans?

Key Takeaways

  • Despite some interpretations, God does hear sinners’ prayers, as shown in the Bible. While some verses suggest God doesn’t listen to sinners, they need to be understood in context. God, being omniscient, hears all prayers but responds particularly to those sincerely seeking salvation and forgiveness.
  • The power of a sinner’s prayer lies not just in asking but in the heart’s attitude. God will respond to those genuinely seeking forgiveness and aligning their lives with His will. This aligns with the biblical teaching that God desires a relationship with us and is always ready to forgive those who truly repent.
  • Practical advice for sinners on prayer emphasizes seeking God’s presence, embracing His forgiveness, submitting to His authority, following Jesus’ example, embracing truth, and relying on God’s power. These steps guide you towards a meaningful prayer life, ensuring the right heart and mindset.

Does God Hear A Sinner’s Prayer?

Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God and doeth his will, he heareth.

— John 9:31, KJV

Yes, God hears sinners’ prayers. While the Scripture mentions instances where God doesn’t hear sinners (Psalms 34:15–16; 66:18; Proverbs 28:9; John 9:31; and 1 Peter 3:12), it also provides examples where God listens to sinners’ prayers (Acts 8:22–23; 9:10–11; 10:4, 31; 1 John 1:9). Therefore, it’s incorrect to say God never hears sinners’ prayers.

God hears all pleas, including those from sinners. The Bible cites examples of God responding to such requests. In Jonah, Nineveh’s inhabitants prayed for mercy and were spared (Jonah 3:5–10). In Acts 10, a Roman centurion named Cornelius prayed to God, who responded by sending Peter to share the gospel.

John 9:31 states, “God does not hear sinners.” However, God hears [1] prayers asking for salvation. This is the only exception.

God hearing a sinner praying

What Does The Word “Hear” Mean?

The word “hear” means acknowledging and responding. God, being all-knowing and all-powerful, is aware of everything, including spoken words. Yet, He may not respond to a sinner’s prayer if their sins have distanced them from Him.

The sinners here are not strangers, but God’s people, the Jews. Their prayers were disregarded due to their disobedience and sins. So, it’s more precise to say that God doesn’t respond to the prayers of those who rebel against Him.

What Does The Word “Sinner” Mean?

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

— Romans 3:23

The word “sinner” means a person who transgresses against divine law by committing immoral acts. In other words, a sinner is a person who sins or disobeys God’s commandments.

According to Romans 3:23, we are all sinners. However, some argue that God hears sinners because He cares for His children. Sinners disobey God’s commandments. They differ from those who, despite their rebellion, seek forgiveness and strive to obey God’s laws.

We are all sinners, but there are different types: those who belong to God but occasionally sin (1 John 1:7–9), those who reject God’s will, “alien sinners” who have never known God (Ephesians 2:11–12), and rebellious saints (Hebrews 6:4–6).

Whether God hears our prayers doesn’t depend on whether we are “alien sinners” or “children of God,” but on our attitude towards God. If you live in disobedience, God “will not hear” you, regardless of whether you are an alien sinner or a child of God. But if you pray to God sincerely, He is likely to answer.

the moment of God responding to a sinner's prayer

Does God Respond To A Sinner’s Prayer?

Yes, God does respond to a sinner’s prayer. In Acts 10, Peter met with Cornelius, a righteous Roman centurion who prayed regularly. This shows that God hears and answers desperate prayers for rescue and communion.

Examples of God responding to prayers and forgiving sins include Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul), King Manasseh, and a Gentile woman from Tyre and Sidon. All had committed grave sins, yet they were forgiven.

However, God may not hear prayers from those seeking material blessings without spiritual commitment or from those willing to serve only after their will is satisfied. Prayers promising repentance in exchange for blessings like a new job or home are not heard, as stated in Proverbs 28:9.

God answers prayers aligning with His will (1 John 5:14–15). This principle may also apply to non-believers. There is nothing that God cannot do.

6 Practical Ways To Approach Prayer As A Sinner

As sinners, remember that God is open to hearing your prayers and desires a personal relationship with you. You can confidently approach prayer, knowing God hears and responds.

Connect with God by seeking His presence, accepting His forgiveness, submitting to His authority, following Jesus’ example, embracing truth, and relying on God’s power. This can lead to a genuine, transformative connection with Him.

  1. Seek God’s presence: Recognize that God is always present and attentive to your prayers. Despite our shortcomings, God’s love is unwavering. Approach prayer with the confidence that God hears your heartfelt cries.
  2. Embrace God’s forgiveness: Through Jesus Christ, God provides a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be reconciled with Him. Approach prayer with a repentant heart, acknowledging your need for forgiveness and embracing the grace offered through Jesus’ sacrifice.
  3. Submit to God’s authority: Understanding that God is to be feared doesn’t mean being terrified of him. Those who feared God had reverence and awe for his holiness and power. Approach prayer with a humble heart, recognizing God’s authority over all things and submitting to his will.
  4. Seek Jesus’ example: Look to Jesus as your example of how to approach God in prayer. Jesus answered the call to bring salvation to sinners and demonstrated a deep connection with God. Study his teachings and observe how he approached God with humility, trust, and obedience.
  5. Embrace the truth: Acknowledge that although we are sinners, God’s truth remains unchanged. His Word provides guidance, comfort, and instruction for our lives. Approach prayer with a desire to align yourself with God’s absolute truth, allowing his principles to shape your thoughts and actions.
  6. Rely on God’s power: Do not rely solely on your strength but on the power of God. Approach prayer with faith, knowing that God’s power is available to transform lives, heal wounds, and provide guidance. Trust in his sovereignty and his ability to work in and through your prayers.
a divine landscape where the ethereal and the earthly merge depicting the comforting and hopeful promise that those who seek God wholeheartedly will find Him

Summary

God promises that those who seek Him wholeheartedly will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). This was true for Cornelius. However, many promises are for those who believe and accept Him.

As a Christian, you can confidently seek help from God when facing problems, as you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior (Hebrews 4:14–16). While the Bible’s teachings on prayer often target Christians, God hears all prayers and rewards earnest seekers. He encourages Christians to pray fearlessly, promising to listen and act.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does God Hear The Prayers Of The Unrighteous?

Yes, God can hear the prayers of the unrighteous. However, the response may depend on the sincerity and repentance of the individual. In the Bible, it is mentioned that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.

What Does The Bible Say About The Sinner’s Prayer?

The sinner’s prayer in the Bible is a term used in evangelical Christianity for a prayer of repentance. It’s not a uniform prayer but an outline of statements acknowledging sins and desiring to connect with God through Jesus Christ.

The prayer typically includes addressing the Father, acknowledging and repenting sin, recognizing Jesus Christ as Savior, admitting that only Jesus’ sacrifice can pay for sins, asking for the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, and praising and thanking God for salvation.

Praying the sinner’s prayer alone doesn’t guarantee salvation. True salvation involves belief in God, repentance of sins, and confession of Jesus. Saving faith means accepting the gospel truth, recognizing the need for salvation, and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This transformation is only possible through God’s grace.

Is Prayers For A Sinner A Noise To God?

No, prayers from a sinner are not noise to God. God hears the prayers of sinners and unbelievers. However, the Bible suggests that God may not listen to sinners who continue in their disobedience. John 9:31 says, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.”

Yet, it’s important to note that God always hears the prayer of a sinner asking for salvation through Jesus Christ. So, while sin can create a separation between the sinner and God, sincere repentance and a desire to do God’s will can bridge that gap.

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