Does God only answer the prayers of the believer?
Some would say scripture supports that only the prayers of the believer can and will be heard by God, other than the prayer of salvation of the non-believer.
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened”. Isaiah 1:15 says, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.” And Proverbs 28:9 has, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.”
These scriptures might support that but can’t a believer also fit here? Can a believer “…cherish sin in his heart”? or “…turn a deaf ear to the law”? I have, and I don’t question my salvation, I know in my heart that Jesus Christ died for my sins as well as the sins of all man, even the ones that choose never to believe in Him. The difference is where that salvation will take me and where that missing salvation will take them. But, that’s another discussion. Let’s get back to prayer?
Now, I’m not talking about prosperity prayers or prayers that are self centered in nature. I don’t believe those are answered for anyone if it is outside God’s plan. I’m talking about righteous prayer that is in line with God’s will.
Long, before I was a believer I prayed for the safety of my wife and unborn daughter through a difficult child-birth. My daughter is now 18 years old, healthy and a faithful servant of Christ. Wait a minute, I’ve only been saved 4 1/2 years?!? But, isn’t that an answered prayer? I also added in “I’ll straighten up and change my ways…” Some would say I’ve done that and some would say that is an answered prayer for them too but that event occurred 14 years later. All in God’s timing not man’s, maybe? If, God had not answered that prayer, if Jenni or Marissa or both had not made it through would that have driven me further from God? Was this a coincidence or was this the starting point of a belief that would eventually emerge in my life. There were other times I prayed. I prayed for a safe return from The Gulf War. I made it home, some didn’t. That was even two years before that prayer for Jenni and Marissa. If I hadn’t prayed for that safe return or if God had ignored that prayer because I didn’t believe, where would I be? Where would Jenni be? Would Marissa be?Again, as far as we can tell, these prayers appear to line up with God’s will. You could say the prayer for a safe return was a selfish one but I had a wife, who would become an amazing sister in Christ, to return to. And a, yet to be conceived, daughter that is now turning into that same kind of woman. That is now an answered prayer of mine, albeit after the fact of my salvation.
Muscles don’t just appear one day. We have to build them. How can we build our faith muscles if we don’t excercise them? And how can we reach the strength to take that first huge step and ask for God’s forgiveness if we don’t exercise a little first? I’m not saying that’s all it takes but it’s a flex in the right direction.
God saved me from what I had turned my life into. I know that is an answered prayer of my wife’s. But, God gave me the life I was ruining. Maybe that initial life was an answer to someone else’s prayer. Where they a believer? Will they be someday because of that first step 40 some years ago?
What say you? Is prayer a private club only for the members that “said the oath” or is more than that? I would love to hear your thoughts.