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Scared! I admit it. Verses that tell me God doesn't hear sinners/unrighteous people's prayers?

 

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)

I'm in this discussion with some friends the other day and one pipes up and says that in their Bible study recently they happened on that verse. I admit my heart sank. Because I then on my own started looking for other similar verses when I got home and using a scripture search engine. 

So now I have to put into perspective two issues that have confronted me for awhile now. 

1. What is often called the Calvinist perspective. In that God predestined, preordained, those who would come to repentance in him through the Son. And this arrived at through all those many scriptures that speak of  and to; my sheep hear my voice, those whom the Father hath called, etc...

Which would then seemingly support the John 9:31 and other similar scriptures.  God doesn't hear sinners, the unrighteous, even the backslidden(?), who pray to him. 
This begs the question in itself, how would those people then pray to the God who isn't listening when they felt compelled to repent of their sins and follow Jesus? 

But it also, those verses, seem to coincide with the aforementioned scriptures about God having predestined his followers, or the repentant, and that's why he doesn't listen to sinners, the unrighteous, prayers. Because those he's predestined he knows. (My sheep hear my voice....) And that's why God would hear their prayers because they're not actually lost as sinners and the unrighteous, they're just arriving at repentance in his good time. 

The Bible study group as quite disheartened happening on that verse. If God doesn't hear sinners prayers, or those of the unrighteous, and one can then presume not the backslider either, then barring the predestined salvation plan per the Calvinist model, how can I, who am not a Calvinist btw, know that God did hear my prayer?

When I came to him on my knees asking for salvation through his Son? When his word has already told me numerous times (in scriptures) that he's not going to listen to that prayer because I'm a sinner, and unrighteous at the time I make it. 

I know this may seem silly to learned people here but this really has put a knot in my gut. All these feelings since I've come to Christ, feeling like I've the Holy Spirit informing me, feeling that, hearing his voice, which is hard to explain what that does feel/sound like but that's the best description for here, could be my delusion when God's word is eternal and it tells me God didn't listen in the first place. 

Am I delusional? Is that feeling the enemy taking joy in leading me wrong  when I think I am one with the Lord? Since we know the devil can quote scripture so he would know it intimately. And all that truth that is behind it. And if God doesn't hear sinners, the unrighteous, when they pray, he could be taking that inroad and working his agenda on the deluded one that doesn't know God never heard the prayer and therefore that repentant one isn't really redeemed at all.  

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If he says in his words repeatedly that he doesn't listen to sinners prayers, the unrighteous prayers, isn't that the end of it? 

I'm rambling I realize. I'm just a bit worried. Thanks for reading to this point if you did have that level of patience. :) 

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Hi Sunflower, God bless you! You need to read the context and what happened as a whole. Earlier in chapter 9 Jesus had healed a man born blind. It's a beautiful miracle. He did something wonderful, he put clay on the man's eyes and said go wash in the pool of Siloam. You must bear in mind. He was still blind until he washed in Siloam and had not seen what Jesus looked like.

This started a big to do among the neighbors. They were trying to figure out who did this great miracle and how he could now be seeing. It seems the Jesus did this great miracle on the Sabbath, oh my goodness. How can a man who is a sinner do such miracles? The former blind man was pretty clear, He is a prophet.

Next, the Jews asked his parents. His parents said they knew he was their son and that he was born blind, but they didn't know how he could now see. Hey, our son's old enough ask him. The Jews began to accuse the healed man of being Jesus' disciple and claiming they were Moses' disciples.

Actually that might be a great idea for a Bible study to read the parts. It might help show who is saying what. You've got the Pharisees and the man and his parents.

Look at verse 32, the man reminds them of the sign of one who would open the eyes of one born blind. They were more blind than the man had been and questioned are you going to teach us! That was when the Jews cast the healed man out of the temple. To be cast out wasn't just kicked out of the temple. You couldn't buy or sell anything.

Later Jesus found the man. Remember the man didn't know what Jesus looked like. You can read it. I won't spoil it for you. The whole account is most amazing. There's more to it than just that one verse. You have to read for a while and see the beauty of it. There's confirmation in there that Jesus Christ is who He is.  John 9:32 talks about it.

Love,

Mary

Hi Sunflower,

This chapter in context is referring to the religiousness of the Pharisees, and how they were saying (back in verse 16), that Jesus could not be from God because he performed the miracle on the Sabbath. 

The miracle that Jesus performed is called a Messianic miracle, which means it is a miracle that only the Messiah could do.  This was one of the miracles that Jesus performed to prove His true identity, and the Pharisees still missed it.  The man that Jesus healed was put out from the synagogue for believing in Jesus.  The Pharisees greatest fear was to be put out from the synagogue because they were purely defined by their religious ceremony.  Their entire identity was steeped in 'religion' and what they were born into.  They didn't understand who Jesus was because they were looking for an earthly king to set up an earthly kingdom, rather than a Heavenly King who would be KING of kings and LORD of lords.  Verse 39 is very telling: 

New Living Translation
Then Jesus told him, "I entered this world to render judgment--to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind."

here's a different version same verse:

New American Standard Bible
And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind."

This verse is a teaching against the Pharisees who think they see, but since they miss Jesus, they are blind and therefore their sin remains: (see verse 41)

We're all sinners in need of a Saviour.  Jesus hears the prayers of people who genuinely know their need for Him.  Matthew chapter 5 is the Sermon on the Mount.

NLT says:  “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,a

for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

NASB says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

For the people who realise their need for a Saviour, Jesus has given them sight.  For people who don't see their need for a saviour, they remain blind.

and remember this:

1 Samuel 16

7But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (emphasis mine)

People who are 'religious' in the sense that they rely on their ceremony, birth right, or rituals to save them, and are trying to perform a certain way to earn their way to heaven will not make it there..  But there is only one way, and that is through Jesus.

Hope this helps some... Blessings, Carla

This is the greatest error I see here in your reasoning, where you said -- And that's why God would hear their prayers because they're not actually lost as sinners and the unrighteous, they're just arriving at repentance in his good time.

Everyone is lost and is born lost and must be found by Jesus and none is righteous, not one, and all have sinned.

We know if we ask according to His will, He hears us, and we also know God isn't willing that any perish but that all come to repentance.

Therefore, God hears the repentant sinner. Their desire isn't contrary to the will of God. Their desire is to turn from their sins to the Lord. Why wouldn't the cry for mercy be within the will of God? The saved make many prayer requests but if what they ask isn't God's will, even their prayers aren't granted due to being contrary to the will of God, the same way that many desires of the wicked are contrary to God's will. The passage isn't addressing salvation at all when referring to God not listening to sinners.

Greetings Sunflower,

Welcome  to AAG.

Seems like to me, one of the biggest issues on believers' minds is - doubt.

And that is Satan's favorite tool. He used it in the Garden of Eden.......and every day since.

How do we deal with that? We dig in, and lock on to every lesson in God's Word. And we lean on each other.......

A few selected passages from the New American Standard Bible:

Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;"         

God's gifts and promises are like the Great Wall of China (forever).

Romans 10:9 -10, " that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; (10) for with the heart man believes, resulting  in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

The key here is that a person spiritually believes what the Word says about Jesus as Lord and Savior......it's a done deal .

Titus 3:5-7, " He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (6) whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,(7) that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

So Sunflower, that means we have been justified by Jesus's redemptive work on the cross. He paid the sin-debt to anyone who comes forward to receive the free gift. A believer's sins are not charged to him/her - thanks to Jesus. God does not hold  believers' sins  against them. Check I John 1:9.

Now, just a word about Calvinism........I don't agree with their concept, but many do. And there remains a great debate.....as with other interpretations of the Bible. Just don't let the matter confuse you.

Grace and Peace.

I'm glad you cleared this up with bible verses! I had to keep reading this because it made me wonder . I was raised or have heard it growing up that God does not listen to sinners prayers! I wonder why we were taught that? It makes sense what you wrote about what God's word says about it.  and we are all born a sinner because of Adam and Eve's sin right. when we confess to God we are a sinner at the time and God listens doesn't he so then I would think that Yes he does hear sinners prayers it only makes sense! but what if  someone prayed about something and hadn't confessed yet to be saved ? does God still listen or must they be saved first? maybe thats why i heard he doesn't hear a sinners prayers? they weren't saved yet i don't know. 

I'm new to this site and just came across this question. Now, I think calvinists have totally missed the whole point of the Bible, but that's another conversation.

As to your question on John 9:31. Every verse has to be taken in context. So on this one, is this Jesus speaking; a prophet; a disciple? It's no to all of those. It's a blind man who Jesus just healed. Who was he speaking to? Religious leaders. He clearly was just repeating a common phrase and theology of the time - that God "does not listen to the prayers of sinners". Was he right? Obviously not. God is not only a loving God who hears all his children, but he's all knowing, which means he hears everything.

It's like saying a loving parent wouldn't listen to their children who was behaving badly.

But just taking the verse for what it is, it's a man repeating the theology of the religious leaders, who opposed Jesus.

It's a verse that shouldn't be taken as any kind of word of God, because it's not. Just part of a historical conversation.

There’s a lot scriptures that are hard to understand, mainly because of our lack of understanding of what God has done through His Son Jesus Christ for us. We have a hard time understanding that God has (already) “past tense” Blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places through Christ. Eph.1, and has given to us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us unto glory and virtue. 2pet.1. I believe once we learn this, will be the end of a lot of our doubts, worries and fears of God’s willingness to grant the promises He gave to Abraham, and his Seed. We won’t be asking Him for things He has already promised, or given to us. 2Pet.1:___

Another reason is, double mindedness, confusion, doubt, and with a wavering faith, let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord. James 1.

We look at Isa.59, and it says ” behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened  that He cannot save, neither is His ear heavy that He cannot hear, but your iniquities has separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you; that He will not hear. Then we look at Ro.4:8 that tells us that “blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”  

We condemn ourselves, “based on the law” and our conscience is defiled, and we can’t have faith when we approach God, and we think He is not going to answer our prayers, based on our performances.

There is a lot more can be said along these lines, but I must get to work. Lord Bless. JB

Rob,

There is a great difference between one being created in God's image, born of man by man, and one being a child of God, being born of God by God. 

There is a great difference between those who are spiritually dead and those who are spiritually alive. 

Regarding John 9:31 being simply words of man (religious leaders of the day) we find the following in the Word of God ... "Psa 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;"

One could try to argue that this is simply the words of the Psalmist, but in so doing one would be arguing that the Scriptures are simply a word about God instead of the Word of God. What one believes regarding whether the Scriptures are a word about God or the Word of God is critical to understanding the Word of God, including how one will respond to the Scriptures.

Amen LT.  

LT, I noticed you referred to the Bible as the Word of God. But there are no scriptures that refer to themselves as the Word of God. God’s word, or the word of God -yes. But when saying the Word of God, that’s always Jesus. The scriptures clearly say so. So many times I hear people quote John 1:1 alone, thinking the Word of God is the Bible, when you only have to read one more verse to understand it’s Jesus. That’s the same throughout the scriptures.

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

As far as the verse you quoted in Psalms, it’s clearly written by someone who follows God, who is saying God won’t hear him if he cherishes sin. That could be any person at any time, believer or non believer. Then we have to really dig deep to understand exactly what he is saying. Is he really saying hear? Or is he talking about prayer. And does hear mean more than listen, or does it actually mean engage or answer. We are obviously all sinners, all the time.

The whole theme of the Bible is God pursuing us relentlessly. It’s why he will leave the 99 to find the 1. The Bible is also us constantly not understanding this, and not understanding who he is.

We need not be without sin or even in a good state for him to hear our prayers. We need not even be consider a follower or Christian. We simply need to be broken or willing to listen to him. A least of shred of desire earnestly asking for his help. We can certainly be angry at him, or even hate him, but if earnestly seeking, he surely listens.

There are umpteen verses in the Bible where God answers the prayers of wicked people who did not follow him.

Let’s take Nineveh. God was working to reach them before they called out to him.

Jonah 4:11 Jonah 1:1-2 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

In the end, God rescued them when they prayed to him. There are numerous accounts of God answering the prayers of people not his followers. They did however, have earnest hearts, or were broken, or both. They desired more.

Now, does he particularly answer the prayers of his followers - sure.

But clearly, he hears and and answers the prayers of anyone sincere in their earnest to reach him, or asks for mercy, so long as they are not against his will. There are numerous accounts in the New and Old Testaments.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)
16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

I would agree with that completely. My point was that we can’t take verses out of context, and that not all verses can stand alone, nor do they all have the same weight. If Jesus, a prophet, disciple, Paul, etc uttered 9:31, it would carry more weight. It was none of these.

What if I took this verse by itself:

Luke 13:14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

Well, then we would say God wouldn’t heal people on the sabbath. But we know that’s not true.

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