Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
23. We were discussing prayer in my Bible study at school one day, and the person leading our discussion mentioned that God hears all prayers but does not act on them unless you have been saved. I am unsure if this is true? I thought God tried to answer all prayers even from the unsaved if he could. I am confused and concerned. I have not yet been saved but believe in the Lord, I just don't feel ready but I hope God can still help me and I also hope that all my prayers have not gone unanswered. Please explain this to me and help me understand better.
Christians occasionally use Hebrews 11:6 to justify an insistence that God only hears the prayers of Christians. This verse reads, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him;" (NIV) Belief in God is a prerequisite to successful prayer. Why would anyone even attempt to pray if there were no belief in God's existence? It is reported that August Hermann Franke once prayed, "Oh God, if there is any, save my soul if I have any." Such prayer is a waste of time! God hears prayer directed to Him, but He answer in one of several ways. God can say, "Yes, I will answer your prayer." He may say, "Wait! Now is not the time." He may also say, "No. This is not in your best interests." He sometimes says, "Maybe, but you should be sure." I think he also says, "You've got to be kidding!" God hears and answers prayer, but He does so according to His will in His time and for your ultimate good.
Part of your question raises another issue. Why is it that you believe but don't feel ready to place your complete confidence in Jesus as Savior? Is it because you feel you can't live out your belief successfully? Then you need to understand that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (see Romans 5:8). He accepts you as you are, but the Holy Spirit continues to prompt and cleanse and heal as He brings you to Christlikeness.
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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.