Recently in a bible class I attended, the question arose that has bounced around forever; does God hear the prayers of a sinner?  At first the answer seemed to be yes, and then it seemed no.  We talked about it for awhile and finally came to the conclusion that more study on the subject was needed.

As I said, this topic has been discussed and RE discussed over the years with no solid clarity for so many people. I LOVE to study the bible, but yet I couldn't bring to mind readily the middle part of my previous studies on the matter. My immediate recollection was NO, but...wait there SEEMS to be some contradictory points, thus necessitating more study. By the way...STUDY as defined in the on-line dictionary (remember when we said the Websters Dictionary? oops I digress) - 1. The pursuit of knowledge, as by reading, observation, or research. 2. Attentive scrutiny. II Timothy 2:15 says  "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Yep, it says rightly dividing. It is SO important that we are constantly in the word to RIGHTLY come to the answer.

John 9:31 - "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does His will."  This was the first scripture brought up in our bible class.  At first glance it would seem that our answer is clear, but upon further study and, yes, a trip to the church to talk to our preacher; I was reminded that one important part of studying the bible is not only to make sure of the proper context, but to find out WHO said what we read.  The Pharisees were questioning the blind man that Jesus healed in the passage...trying to find out if Jesus had done some work on the Sabbath (REALLY trying to discredit always!); which would have "proven" to everyone that He couldn't be from God if he broke one of the laws of the Sabbath....sigh. It was the Pharisees that said the statement in John 9:31.  This does not make the verse untrue, it makes it a statement the Pharisees said to try to bring doubt to the people discredit Jesus... (Remember, what makes a good deception is that it has roots in truth) To find the complete answer it is important to study further than one verse, that could easily have been pulled out of context.

The RIGHT question to ask in light of all of this is does God ANSWER the prayers of sinners? Why this? Well, it would be a contradictory thing if we just went with John 9:31.  The natural question to arise is what about Cornelius? Cornelius was a Gentile who was devout in his pursuit of God as a Gentile, Acts 10:2, but he was not a baptized Christian.  Read the account of Cornelius conversion in Acts 10.  It is clear that Cornelius's prayer was heard because vs. 4 says of an angel in a vision he had "And when he observed him, he was afraid and said. "What is it lord? So he (the angel) said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God" We know that God heard Cornelius who was searching after Him. We know that God watches over us all; Psalm 33:13 - "When the LORD looks down from heaven, he observes every human being." and we know that God wants everyone to come to Him and be saved. I Timothy 2:3-4 - "This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the [a]knowledge of the truth." (the good and acceptable in this verse refers to Paul's exhortation to Timothy that prayers and such be made for all men, including kings and those in authority).
II Peter 3:9 - " The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." So, the short of this story is God; who knows all things and sees all things, sent Peter to baptize Cornelius and his household.

These two seemingly conflicting parts of the bible caused the deeper study on whether God hears or answers sinners.  In I John 3:22 - "And receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him" we learn that to have our answered prayers from God we need to keep His commandments...we do what He says...and one of those things is to become a Christian, and we do that at the point of baptism. (Acts 2:38)I John 5: 14-15 - "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him." And, so, the key to the answer of our question at hand is that God hears all, He wishes that no man should perish, and He answers those who do His will, those who ASK according to His will.

It is often brought up "What about the thief on the cross" preacher was kind enough to bring even more clarity on this matter that helped tremendously! Thanks Rick!... People have said..."The thief on the cross got to go to heaven and he wasn't baptized, he had his entreaty answered without doing what God asked of him"...WELL...let's look at

1. Matthew 3:5-6 - "People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." The question to ask ourselves here is "How do we know he wasn't baptized?" and then in

2. Mark 2:4-12 is a story about Jesus healing the paralytic man and the Pharisees are once again trying to discredit Him by asking "Who can forgive sins (back then they thought that people with afflictions had to be sinners and this was their punnishment) but God alone?" vs 7.  In verse 10a we have further help in our question about the thief on the cross..."But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,".  Sinner or not, baptized or not, Jesus had all authority to bring the thief to heaven with Him! and third...

3. Romans 6:3-4 " Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Jesus hadn't died yet, so the baptism that we know as is our path to salvation today hadn't happened yet.

This only touches the tip of what we need to learn of God on matters like these.  We know we need to study; to get in the Word diligently, and through that we will understand what we need to know to have our place in heaven with Him and to bring as many with us as we can!  Here is more food for thought as we all study more on this subject!

Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; Psalm 145:19; Zechariah 7:13; Proverbs 1:28-29; John 15:16.