There is a sense in which God “hears” all prayer. He is God and knows all things, in those terms God does “hear” all prayers that are prayed… even by unbelievers. However, there is a sense in which God does NOT “hear” all prayers. In this context “hearing” has to do with listening… considering… and answering the prayer as a Father grants the request of his child.
So let’s consider when God does not “hear” a prayer prayed. Maybe a better way to put it is when God hears… but IGNORES a person’s prayer. It is thus essential for the Scripture to be considered. First is Isaiah 1:10 where it is written GOD SAYS…
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
There ARE times when God chooses to ignore the prayers of His people… even though He “hears” them. The reason is because their conduct contradicts who God is. The sad things is this, they are laughably blind to their condition! In some way they think their conduct during the week in the world has no effect on when they go to worship God!
This is consistent with what is written to HUSBANDS in 1 Peter 3:7, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” If/when a husband doesn’t honor his wife, his prayers are hindered… God doesn’t consider them… He doesn’t “hear” them as when the wife is honored!
The FIRST prayer God “hears” (Personally answers) from an unbeliever is the one to be saved. Prior to that (All sentimentality aside), God does not “hear” the prayer of the unrighteous (Those who are not saved). This can be further understood because neither The Spirit nor Jesus prays for the unbeliever as they pray. Prior to a person being saved, God does not “hear” those prayers. This is consistent with Cornelius in Acts 10:1-6…
But thanks be to God that those who are in Christ Jesus have been given access to God’s throne as it is written in Hebrews 4:14-16
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.