QUESTION: -- Does God Hear The Prayers Of The Sinner? If God does not hear the prayer of the sinner, how can he be saved? And what about Lk. 18:10-14?

ANSWER: -- There is no "if" about it. Notice this plain statement in Jno. 9:31, "We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and does His Will, him He heareth." This was a well-established truth throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. Notice this principle which God laid down: "Becasue I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man hath regarded; But ye have set at nought all My counsel, And would none of My reproof; I also will laugh in (the day of) your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as a storm, And your calamity cometh on as a whirlwind; When distress and anguish come upon you. Then will they call upon Me, but I will not answer; They will seek Me diligently, but they shall not find Me" (Prov. 1: 24-28). That is pretty plain, isn't it? God says plainly, "If you won't listen to Me, I won't listen to you."

The word "sinner," is ordinarily used in the Scripture to mean one who rebels against the Will of God. But when one will repent, God is then willing to hear his prayer. This is shown in the statement of Jno. 9:31, "And doeth His Will." If one repents and is willing to hear and obey the Will of God, then the Lord will hear and answer his prayers. Notice what the prophet wrote: "Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1,2). This same principle is repeated throughout the New Testament, as well.

There are two different categories of sinners in the Scriptures: aliens and citizens. If one is not a child of God (under the covenant), then he is an alien. The case of Lk. 18:10-14 deals only with citizen sinners, for both the Pharisee and the publican were Israelites, in covenant relationship with God. The difference between them was that the publican recognized, and admitted, his failures. The Pharisee was proud of himself, and refused to acknowledge his need for God and His mercy. The publican, on the other hand, fit with Jno. 9:31 perfectly. He knew he needed God's mercy, and he asked for it. He was a worshiper of God, and (at least at this moment) was doing the Will of God. So God heard him and forgave him. He'll do the same with any child of His who sins today.

The alien, on the other hand, must first become a child of God in order to call God his Father. Notice the process: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...For ye are all sons of God through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ" (Mk. 16:16; Gal. 3:26,27). When one puts his trust in Jesus and is baptized into Him, then he becomes a child of God. And then he can call God, "Father." But notice this principle which God gives us: "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination" (Prov. 28:9).

If we expect God to listen to us, we must be willing to listen to Him. Only when we become His children, and live according to His will, does He hear us.

By Clem Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 58, No. 28, July 10, 2009.

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