God communicates the thoughts and desires of His mind (that is, His will) to you and me through His word, the Bible. The way that we, as humans, communicate or speak the message of our mind to God is through what the Bible calls prayer. In both the Old Testament, as well as the New, we often read about prayer. The truth is, it is only through the teaching of the Bible that we can know the Lord’s will concerning prayer. Thus, for any question about prayer, we must turn to the word of God and see what it says. Doesn’t that make sense to you?
Does the God of heaven hear the prayers of humans? If you mean, "Does God know when people are praying to Him," then the answer is "yes." God knows all that is taking place on the earth at all times. He knows our every thought, every action, and every word spoken, including our prayers. How can we be sure about this? Because the Bible says, "God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things" (1 John 3:20). All the affairs of mankind are "naked and opened unto the eyes" of the Lord (Hebrews 4:13). So, yes, God knows when humans are praying.
Does the God of heaven hear prayers that are offered to Him in different languages at the same time? Because He is "the Almighty God"(Genesis 17:1), there is nothing that is too hard for Him (Genesis 18:14). He understands all languages in which humans speak. And, yes, He can handle all the prayers that might be coming His way all at the same time!
Should we conclude, though, that every prayer is acceptable to the Lord? To say that He can hear and understand when people speak to Him is one thing. To say that every prayer is acceptable to Him, well, that is another matter entirely. In Proverbs 28:9 it is written, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." This verse makes it clear that if a person refuses to heed or obey the message of God’s law, then he should not expect the Lord to receive his prayer. Why? Because God counts it as an abomination when men refuse to obey Him, and all the praying in the world cannot change that. Prayer cannot take the place of obedience, and the Lord rejects the prayer or cry of a disobedient person.
What does the New Testament say? In 1 Peter 3:12 we read, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers . . ." According to this verse, which prayers does the Lord receive? Answer: The prayers of "the righteous." A righteous person is one that does righteousness (1 John 3:7). Since all of God’s commands are righteousness (Psalm 119:172), then a righteous person is one that keeps the commandments of the Lord. The Lord promises to receive the prayers of such a person, but not the prayers of the unrighteousness.
One final consideration. What about praying for salvation? Never in the Bible do we read that the Lord or any of His inspired spokesmen told a person that had never been saved something like this: "To be saved from your past sins, you need to pray to God, and He will forgive you." Such a notion is just not in the Bible! It is true that there are New Testament passages in which we read that people were told to pray in order to receive forgiveness, but when we closely examine the contexts of those verses, what do we find? They were addressed or spoken to those that were already Christians and had committed sin after being saved. Thus, as Christians or children of God, in order to get back into the right relationship with God, what they needed to do was pray. Simon, who had already believed and been baptized, was told to pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:13,21-23). We also read, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Again, however, this was not spoken to non-Christians, but to those that were already God’s children (compare 1 John 2:12).
Does God want men to pray? The Bible says He does. But does He accept all prayers? Not according to the Bible. Let us all search the scriptures and accept the instruction that we find therein.
By Roger D. Campbell
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