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Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA

 Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? by John MacArthur

Although there was another thread on this topic here not too long ago, I felt led to post this article by John MacArthur in a new thread:

"God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer He sees fit. But Scripture clearly indicates that God does not listen to or answer every prayer. In fact, Scripture gives at least fifteen reasons for unanswered prayer. God does not answer the prayer of those:

1.Who have personal and selfish motives.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).

1.Who regard iniquity in their hearts.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).

1.Who remain in sin.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

1.Who offer unworthy service to God.

"You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled You?' In that you say, 'The table of the LORD is to be despised.' But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts. "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.(Mal.1:7-10)

1.Who forsake God.

Thus says the Lord to this people: "Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, And punish their sins." Then the Lord said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence (Jeremiah 14:10-12).

1.Who reject God's call.

Because I [Wisdom] have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke.... Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me (Proverbs 1:24-25, 28).

1.Who will not heed God's law.

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9).

"But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen," says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11-13).

1.Who turn a deaf ear to the cry of the poor.

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13).

1.Who are violent.

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15; see also 59:2-3).

1.Who worship idols.

Therefore thus says the Lord: "Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble." (Jeremiah 11:11-14; see also Ezekiel 8:15-18).

1.Who have no faith.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).

1.Who are living in hypocrisy.

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).

1.Who are proud of heart.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

1.Who are self-righteous.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess." And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:11-14).

1.Who mistreat God's people.

You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them (Psalm 18:40-41).

You who hate good and love evil; Who strip the skin from My people, And the flesh from their bones; Who also eat the flesh of My people, Flay their skin from them, Break their bones, And chop them in pieces, Like meat for the pot, Like flesh in the caldron. Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds (Micah 3:2-4).

So, does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? A strict yes or no answer is difficult without qualifying the answer in various ways. However, it is noteworthy that the above mentioned principles represent some of the key characteristics of an unbeliever. Thus we can safely say that, in general, God does not answer the prayers of an unbeliever."



 2011/7/12 0:02Profile

Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37698
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

 Re: Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers? by John MacArthur

It is interesting that I would say almost 100% of these scriptures and examples are of believers and believers that are backslidden from God.

Romans 10 say to "call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved." So unbelievers can call out to God.

Jesus christ said the tax collector prayed: "Lord have mercy on me a sinner" such a prayer God heard.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2011/7/12 0:17Profile

Joined: 2011/4/30
Posts: 99


the one who comes to god for prayer must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him

how can someone who doesnt believe in god call upon the god he doesnt believe exists

there must be the seed of faith in his heart ,,

who do they think they would be calling on

the bible says the god of this world has blined eyes

how do they even know who they are calling on

all who call on the lord to be saved ,one must no which lord he is calling on he must have some knowlage about the lord he calls on

i think that verse is taken out of contex in many ways

one must be convicted by the spirit of the lord ,and then he calles out of conviction through faith to be saved

with out conviction one will never call upon the lord to be saved , it is a fundamentel truth

one must see somthing of his needfullness of salvation ,in order to call upon christ to be saved

paull said with all who call upon the lord out of a pure heart

also think that verse all who call upon the name of the lord will be saved ,,,,,,is actualy a continuing contex

speaking people like us who do call upon the lord to be saved ,,the contex was all flesh speaking of not just the jews but us also us gentiles ,who call upon the lord we also will be saved

the hearing of gosple of god cause conviction and then all who call upon the lord will be saved

time has come and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the son god and they that hear shall live

is you hear his voice dont harden your hearts ,call upon the lord and you will be saved

there must be a seed of belief and conviction wrought in the unbelievers heart causing him to call on the one who hear has herd of or read about

unbelievwr who doesnt beleieve in god or that he is a sinner has know desire to call upon the lord we love to be saved ,,,maby he might want to call upon the god of the wikken or the godess,,but he wont call upon the lord to be saved , he doesnt think he needs to be saved ,, or he might want to medetate to gain some satanic enlighenment ,for in him dewls allready the spirit of the prince and the power of the air which is the spirit that wokerth in the children of disbodence , that is what i was ,and that is what the true unbeliever is

what could make him want to call upon our presious lord ,but the spirits drawing power ,,
for know one can come to me unless my father draws him

it is a verry intererting subject ,,,,,,,i hope we dont argue over theses things ,,,,,,,,

savation is a sweet thing i credit the lord for all of it even the first time i ever prayed to the lord as a sinner,,,,it was by the seed of faith he put in to my heart ,and for me it makes it even sweeter to know i needed god even to do that

 2011/7/12 1:20Profile

Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA


Brothers, one of the main reasons I posted the article is because of a common error in dealing with the lost. In this day and age there are multitudes who profess to pray in Christ's name, who are seriously deceived.

I have come across many of these poor deceived souls when witnessing on the streets. Many of them are living in open rebellion against God and show no signs of repentance whatsoever. They pray in Christ's name for protection, for finances, and even for sinful pleasures, while practicing fornication, adultery, drunkenness, doing or selling drugs, etc.

I have had to lovingly reason with and point out to them that as long as they are unrepentant God is not pleased with them for one second; He does not hear their prayer favorably; That they are seperated from Him by their rebellion against Him; That they continue to make themselves enemies of God and that His wrath remains over their heads as long as they remain unrepentant.

These poor souls have bought into the easy believism false gospel that is prevalent today. If we truly love them with the love of God we will endeavor to speak the truth to them in love; even the hard truths, that their sin has made a seperation between them and God; that they must be truly born again to be in right standing with God and expect Him to hear their prayers favorably.


 2011/7/12 2:00Profile

Joined: 2011/4/30
Posts: 99


you you could proable ask those people if they have called on the lord to be saved ,,,and most woluld tell you i prayed the sinners prayer ,,,and they in there own mind t,hink they are saved,,,,,,,,,,they have and an idol in ther mind

ill stand with paul washer on this one

and the apostal paul when he said confess jesus is lord and believe in your heart that god raised him from the dead you will be saved

how can an unbeliever be saved with out this

 2011/7/12 3:37Profile

Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA


by gazzer,

you you could proable ask those people if they have called on the lord to be saved ,,,and most woluld tell you i prayed the sinners prayer ,,,and they in there own mind t,hink they are saved,,,,,,,,,,they have and an idol in ther mind

Yes. Also, many people have some sort of church upbringing where they were taught that God is all loving and forgiving and will overlook their sins as long as they just believe in Him. When I mention the need for repentance, I've had many tell me that they repent every night before they go to bed, yet they clearly haven't been born again. They see repentance as a sort of mental and verbal confession, similar to how Catholics see it.

Edit: link to video removed due to it being questionable in content.


 2011/7/12 14:00Profile


Oracio I find your post to be timely. In my post on Where is Jesus Christ I made the statement that God only hears the prayers of believers committed to Jesus Christ. Perhaps a bit simplistic. But the context was meant to be that God will not hear the prayers of a Moslem or Hindu unless it is for salvation in Christ. My statement was challenged as false. I believe John MacArthur who is respected by many, including myself, has clarified the matter. Thanks for the post.

 2011/7/12 14:59

Joined: 2004/4/4
Posts: 20

 Re: Does God Answer The Prayers Of Unbelievers

I'm involved with a street ministry in England, UK and come across many drinkers, drug addicts, etc who say they pray each night. The prayers they mention are usually what we would term "self-centred, but practical" prayers. Many of them know bits of the Bible. We offer them Bible verses in little slips of paper, and many take them and keep them in their room.

One guy last week, out of the blue, quoted to me "before Abraham was, I AM." Another street drinker asked me "who was the first evangelist?" On my replying "Philip is mentioned as an evangelist" he said "No, it was Mary Magdalene. She was the first to say Jesus had risen from the dead". Good answer!

One or two street people have at one time prayed a "sinner's prayer" or genuinely encountered Jesus on their knees in prison, but we find them living an unregenerate lifestyle, caught up in their personal bondage of addiction, which generates lies and deception. We don't condemn them, just show practical love with food and drink as well as the gospel message. Some are lost, some have been found - but are backslidden.

But having reached rock bottom, their is a genuiness and an openness about them that endears them to you. You can't help but love them.

But I think only Jesus knows the answer to the question!


 2011/7/12 18:14Profile

Joined: 2005/6/18
Posts: 1481


hi,over 40 year span i have been in the homeless ministryin long spurts.i know men and women who do not know their mothers or fathers names or where or when they were born and live in a world totally foreign to you. some so mentally fragile that they cannot cope in the real world.some are so strung out that they are existing with minds eaten up by sin and satan.this is why i must remain a man who believes in the sloppiest agape there could be. some call this ratical grace from a loving saiour who came not to condemn the world but to save it. i could not be like some of you who bring performance into the process and continue in this ministry for its burden would be too heavy and His burden is lite.i am not saying you are wrong in your beliefs is all by grace and faith in His finished work only or it isnt.jimp

 2011/7/12 22:57Profile

Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA


scotsbaker and jimp, I do appreciate your posts as they may help bring a balanced view on this topic. In reading the OP one may get the impression that I am advocating a mean-spirited condemnation on the lost. And that is certainly not the case. What I tried to convey was that we should speak the truth of God's Word out of love for God and men, no matter how hard that truth may seem to human flesh. Sometimes being faithful to God's Word means that we speak plainly regarding man's deplorable condition. And God will use our faithful witness to His truth, for the awakening of those that are asleep in sin and darkness.

jimp, I have not been around as long as you have but I have spent some time in ministry to the homeless as well. Like you, I too have seen much deception, demonism and bondage that many of them need deliverance from.

And I agree that we need to show them God's unconditional love and grace which extends to all, through our words and actions. We should reach out to them in practical ways, such as feeding and clothing them, regardless of whether or not they receive the gospel.

But that does not mean we can or should sugarcoat the gospel in our sympathy for them. They too need to be reasoned with and warned concerning the seriousness of their sins against God. This is how I see Jesus dealing with the poor. He spent much time with and around them but He never watered down the truth of God. He spoke plainly to the multitudes proclaiming both the good and bad news.

I have seen the Lord move in mighty convicting and delivering power among the poor and homeless, through the uncompromised preaching of the hard truths of His judgment against sin, along with the good news of forgiveness and deliverance available through Christ. Many of these poor and homeless appreciate it when someone who is Spirit-filled comes to them and speaks the truth to them in love. They know that all they have heard before is a watered down message and recognize the difference when the truth is not watered down.


 2011/7/13 16:10Profile

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