By David Sanford, Crosswalk.com
There is a clear and definitive answer to this question:
1. Yes, our heavenly Father hears every prayer by Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Many people don’t realize that the Trinity’s language is prayer. Everything that was spoken into existence is a result of the Trinity’s earnest and eternal prayer ministry. That includes the heavens and earth—the entire universe, seen and unseen. That includes every human being the Lord has formed and into which He has breathed His life.
This doesn’t mean, of course, that the Trinity forces its desires. The Father wanted everyone in the ancient nation of Israel, His chosen people, to love Him. Jesus wanted to know if there was any other way to fulfill His Father’s will besides the cross. The Holy Spirit has wanted to fill and overflow through every Christian all the time since Pentecost.
If we want to know why God sometimes says “no,” “no, not now,” or “no, here’s something better,” we simply need to re-read the previous paragraph. Not even God gets everything He desires.
Then again, everything the Lord God decrees becomes reality—and reality at precisely the right time. He decrees by fiat (out of nothing), through His angels, and through you and me. Amazing!
2. Does God hear every prayer by His angels?
Biblically, we’re not sure if angels pray. They certainly enjoy God’s presence. They certainly praise the Lord in heaven and sometimes here on earth. They also do and say whatever God tells them to do and say. But do they pray? Perhaps? Probably? Again, we’re not sure because the Bible doesn’t tell us.
3. Does God hear every prayer by the wicked?
No and yes. No, if they’re praying to anyone but the one true Lord God. No, if they’re telling God what to do. No, if they’re demanding what they desire. No, if they’re persisting in their rebellious, wicked, sinful, and evil ways. Yes, if they’re turning from their sins to God in repentance.
The best example is Namaan, the archenemy of the kingdom of Israel during the days of Elisha the prophet. The second best example is Manasseh, the most wicked tyrant in the kingdom of Judah’s history. The third best example is Saul, whom Jesus confronted on the road to Damascus. In their day they each qualified as the worst of sinners. Yet God!
Photo Credit: ©Guillaume de Germain/Unsplash
4. Does God hear every prayer by the unsaved?
By “unsaved,” we mean those who haven’t yet become active followers of Jesus Christ. If such individuals turn from their sins to God in repentance, yes, God gladly hears them!
5. Does God hear every dying prayer for salvation?
Yes, I believe He does. Does that mean all such prayers are sincere? Does it mean all prayers actually are addressed to the one true God? No, of course not.
Not everyone goes to heaven. Then again, don’t assume that someone who died today—and who knowingly rejected the Good News of Jesus Christ for years—went to hell. Never assume that. Never say such words. Only God knows that.
Instead, pray for God to reveal whether they reached out to the Lord before the very end. Then, let us trust that our loved one is in the hands of a just and merciful God (Genesis 18:23).
One of my wife’s grandfathers wholeheartedly rejected the Gospel his whole life. His father had been a circuit preacher, but he wanted nothing to do with God. He also wanted nothing to do with Jesus Christ, the Church, or the Bible (even though he still could quote Psalm 23 and other passages). On his deathbed, Grandpa read a final letter (plea) from Renee and trusted Jesus Christ two days before his passing.
Renee’s other step-grandfather even more adamantly rejected Jesus Christ his whole life. When he died, we told our children what I wrote above. A few short days later a grandson (whom Renee’s family hadn’t met before) said he too was a Christian and had led Grandpa to Christ the day before he died.
How good, how very good, that no matter what, the Lord never gives up.
6. Does God hear every prayer by wayward prodigals?
In this content, we mean individuals who actively followed the Lord Jesus, and later walk away to do their own thing. Often they walk away from the Bible, then the Church, and then anything related to Christianity.
This doesn’t mean, however, that most wayward prodigals don’t love Jesus. Sometimes they do, but their knowledge and understanding of Jesus is misinformed and skewed. After all, everyone who knows Jesus, as He really is, loves Jesus and is blessed by Him.
If a wayward prodigal wants and seeks to come home spiritually and to know the Lord in a whole new way, and prays to that effect, yes, God gladly hears them and welcomes them with open arms. We should too.
I believe the same is true for religious individuals who are (say) Jewish or Muslim, and then feel called by God to place their faith and hope in Jesus Christ. In many ways, they are like the Syrophoenician woman, unexpectedly draw by and to the Savior.
How good that we can thank God daily for His marvelous, amazing mercy and grace!
Last but not least…
7. Yes, our heavenly Father hears every prayer we pray.
This doesn’t require me to be sinless and perfect. But it does require that I love God, know I need God, and actively place my belief, faith, hope, and trust in Him.
My youngest son turned 18 and walked out of our family. It’s been five and a half years. He renounced us, doesn’t trust us, and certainly refuses to talk with us. Imagine if he came back into our lives tomorrow. Would I grant his every request automatically? No. Instead, rebuilding our relationship would take first priority.
Similarly, our relationship with God takes first priority. If that’s the case, you and I want to pray!
I begin each day saying, “I am so thankful that You, my heavenly Father, always hear the prayers of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity’s prayer ministry is majestic, magnificent, and all-mighty.” I continue by restating some of what I said in #1 above.
Then I continue saying, “I also am so thankful that You, my heavenly Father, always hear the prayers of Christian family and friends and acquaintances here on earth, and You answer these prayers, just as You answer mine. That’s why prayer is not boring!”
Not boring, indeed!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
David Sanford’s book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His next book is Life Map Devotional for Men due out concurrently with his wife Renee’s next book, Life Map Devotional for Women.