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Does God Answer Sinners’ Prayers?

The Answer

No.

God does NOT hear a sinner’s prayer, none save one: the Sinner’s Prayer.

Sinner's Prayer Marvin Winans ℗ 2007 EMI Gospel/Pure Springs. All rights reserved. Producer: Marvin Winans Producer: Tommy Sims Composer: Tommy Sims Auto-generated by YouTube.

The Why

Recently, a Facebook friend of mine started an interesting conversation which shortly turned into a debate with a confused, Mormon woman upholding certain beliefs that are just not founded in the Bible. Not the mainstream Bible anyway. One of these beliefs was that God hears and answers sinners’ prayers. Everyone else on the thread (and there were several) disagreed with her thoughts and provided ample scriptural proof to show why. She was NOT trying to hear it.

I knew the woman was wrong, but didn’t have the time to sit down and share with her why her mindset on this particular topic was wrong. But I did later.

Prayer is two-way communication between God and us. And bar the prayer of salvation a.k.a. The Sinner’s Prayer, I do not believe the Bible supports God hearing and answering a sinner’s prayer because it’s like saying they can access the benefits of salvation without meeting the most minimal requirement--salvation.

An example of a prayer that won't make it past the ceiling, even if it is from "King" Bey.

The Necessity of Sonship

When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He gave them the perfect model: the Lord’s Prayer. And it begins as such:

Our FATHER in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
— Matthew 6:9 emphasis mine

Thus, we see that the very structure of prayer is based on the foundation of sonship. “Our Father…” The only reason God hears and answers the Prayer of Salvation by a sinner is because they are desiring to be borne of the Spirit and thus, become a son of God, even if they don’t understand that much just yet.

Here is some of what the Bible says about sons of God:

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
— John 1:12, 13
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
— Galatians 3:26
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
— Romans 8:14-17

Being a son of God is what affords us the privilege of answered prayer.

The Authority of Sonship (Being a Joint-Heir with Christ)

Being a son is one thing, but being knowledgeable enough and mature enough in the Word to actually utilize your authority in prayer as not just a son, but an heir is quite another story.

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.
— Galatians 1:1, 2

Being an heir gives you authority to appropriate the will of God (effective in us upon reception of redemption because of Jesus’ death on the cross) and thus we pray from a place of authority that a sinner not saved by grace cannot.

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
— Romans 8:16, 17
...And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…
— Ephesians 2:6

As co-rulers, governors, ambassadors, placed in our respective locations to colonize the earth to the ways of heaven, we cannot expect to pray prayers that make it past the ceiling without God-given authority.

Holy Boldness

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
— Hebrews 4:16

We are to come before God’s throne boldly--not arrogantly. Not all-knowingly (that’s not even possible!). But it is our sonship and joint-heir status that provides us with this holy boldness exhibited so well by the apostles in the New Testament and even the saints of the Old.

We don’t beg, we command. We don’t plead, we bind and we loose. Our authority makes us bold.

And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
— Matthew 16:19
Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
— Matthew 18:18

After all, the Kingdom ushered in an opportunity to be part of the most militant Body of Christ, consistently engaging in warfare that warrants boldness.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
— Matthew 11:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
— Ephesians 6:12

For God or Against Him?

The truth of the matter is if we are not sons of God, we are sons of Satan. Of course, he has no ability to biologically beget, but we are sons of disobedience and thus his. And without truthful acknowledgement of our sin, asking God for forgiveness, receiving that forgiveness, and living as sons of God, then we are sons of the fallen one.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
— Ephesians 2:1-3
For this you know,that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
— Ephesians 5:5, 6
He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
— Matthew 12:30

But Aren’t We All Sinners?

One of the main protests (and points of contention/confusion I might add of the Facebooking woman) was “but we’re all sinners so by your own admission, God wouldn’t hear any of our prayers.”

Yes and no.

We were all born into sin (Psalm 51:5), have sinned, and likely still sin from time to time. It’s part of our earthly “sin nature.”

...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
— Romans 3:23

But let’s read that verse in context.

...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
— Romans 3:23-26

Therefore, we are born to sin, but through Christ’s blood, made righteous and no longer need identify ourselves as what we were, but as what we are: sons of God.

All born of the flesh are all creations of God. But we who are born of the spirit have the right to be called sons of God through faith and no fault of our own, thus making us separate from those who are not sons of God.

All have this opportunity extended to them in one way or another, yet the choice to accept or refuse is what draws the line.

Prayer is a wonderful opportunity and connection to God that is meant for all of us to enjoy. However, we can only effectively pray as sons of God and thus, Christians