Seems a comment I made last Sunday has spurred some discussion. That is a good thing! My comment in the message was along this line… “If a person does not have a relationship to God through Jesus then God does not hear or answer their prayers. This includes all those who are not saved, regardless of age or religion. The first prayer God hears and answers is the prayer for the forgiveness of sin.”
Point: Before questions or hypothetical situations are entertained about Scripture, settle the doctrinal truth first. Then let Biblical truth inform the discussion and answer all questions.
Of course God “hears” every prayer prayed… but there are many He chooses to ignore or not answer because people seek to access Him outside a relationship through Jesus Christ. My point in the message was taken from John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life… no one comes to the Father but by Me,” and 1 Timothy 2:5 where Paul wrote… “There is one God, & there is one mediator between God & men, the man Christ Jesus…”
Unless a person is a Christian… one who has faith in God through Christ for the forgiveness of their sin… they do not have access to God in any manner, including prayer. That is the doctrinal truth. For God to “hear” (Which is intended to mean listen to and answer) any person’s prayer they must first be a Christian. Otherwise God chooses to ignore their prayers.
Even when a person has a relationship with God through Christ, their prayers can be hindered. For instance… if a husband does not honor his wife, his prayers are hindered (1 Pet 3:7). John MacArthur suggests at least 15 reasons prayers are not answered by God. Then there is the case where God answered a prayer, but the answer was delayed by demons. So the whole discussion about prayers being answered is worthy of much study. Yet the basic doctrinal truth remains… without a relationship to God through Christ there is no basis for a person’s prayer to be heard by God.
“What about Cornelius of Acts 10:1-8, 30-33, and 11:11-14? He wasn’t saved and God sent an angel to him…” My response is that Acts 10:1-8 isn’t the only text to consider when examining the question about Cornelius. THE text of the three that helps understand what was going on is 11:11-14 where it is said by Peter about Cornelius…
The Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.
I suggest that what Cornelius was praying in 10:1-8 is explained in 11:14. Cornelius’ prayer to God was regarding how to be saved! Thus the situation of Acts 10:1-8, 30-33 supports that the first prayer God “hears” and answers is the prayer for salvation.
It is a good thing when God’s people listen closely to the pastor’s message! It is a good thing for them to examine the Scriptures to see whether or not what he says is true! I rejoice that people test everything proclaimed from the pulpit to see whether or not they are from God! That is one of many reasons I am thankful for the people of Huffman Baptist Church!