Q: I was in Church the other day and the Preacher was preaching and he quoted a verse from the Bible that has puzzled me and worried me. He said that God does not hear (or answer) the prayers of a sinner. I am not where I need to be with God but I do believe in him and I do pray. Could you please help me with this? I have been praying for something for a couple months and my prayer has not been answered and I know God does not answer every prayer. Thanks, Dolores

A: We are all sinners, every one of us. Some of us are sinners saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. God does hear our prayers, but does not always answer them in the way that we want him to.

Many quote the scripture John 9:31 for justifying the teaching that God does not hear the prayers of sinners:

We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. –John 9:31 ESV

This scripture seems to teach that God not only won’t answer the prayers of sinners but won’t even listen to them. It seems to indicate that one must properly worship and believe in God and follow his commandments if one’s prayers are to be considered.

However, these words were not spoken or taught by Jesus. These are merely the observations of a blind man that Jesus healed and reflected the false teaching of that generation. The ministry of Jesus is more demonstrative of the heart of the Father. He healed everyone who asked whether they were ‘sinners’ or not. This is one of the reasons the religious leaders held him in contempt.

Jesus talked to and listened to many ‘sinners’ including the woman caught in ‘sin’ and the woman at the well, along with a couple of tax collectors. One of which he made an Apostle. Luke 6:35-36 teaches us to love our enemies and do good to them as:

“…the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”-ESV

God is sovereign, hears everyone and answers who and how he pleases.

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