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Will GOD HEAR THE PRAYER OF A SINNER?

Luke 23:33-43

Introduction:

The other day I was ask this question, "Will God hear the prayer of a sinner?" The one asking the question quoted the verse below.

John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. (KJV)

Many don't pray because they are not sure God is listening. They may feel that what they have done -- that is the sin in their life -- prevents God from listening.

Isa 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (KJV)

This is an important question!

Rom 3:10-11 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (KJV)

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (KJV)

I. Does God Listen To the Prayer of A Sinner?

A. Listen to James.

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV)

B. Listen to John.

1 John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (KJV)

C. Luke's account of the thieves crucified with Christ.

Luke 23:33-43 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (KJV)

Matthew and Mark record that both thieves were railing him. Yet one of them repented and asks to be with Christ in paradise. Jesus heard and answered his prayer.

Mt 27:44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. (KJV)

Mk 15:32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him. (KJV)

C. Does God even listen to prayers of those outside of Christ?

1. Cornelius  prayers were heard.

Acts 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. (KJV)

2. Jesus tells those searching for the truth to ask and they shall receive.

Matthew 7:7-8
 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

3. Jesus portrayed in parable of the Pharisee and the publican that God answers sinner's prayer.

Luke 18:9-14 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (KJV)

D. Does God hear the prayer of a child of God who sins?

God answered Paul's prayer when he was struggling with sin? God answers prayers so that we will not be deprived of learning more about his grace.

2 Cor 12:7-9
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly  therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

David's prayer after his adultery.

Psa 51:1-10 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Samson's prayer after a pitiful life.

Samson & Delilah

Judges 16:17-20 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a rasor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him. (KJV)

Judges 16:27-31 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the burying place of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years. (KJV)

The Hebrew writer list Samson in the Hall of Faith.

Heb 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: (KJV)

E. Does God hear the prayer of the rebellious?

1. Balaam

Num 22:9-12 And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. (KJV)

Peter indicates that Balaam was a sinner.

2 Pet 2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; (KJV)

Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. (KJV)

God hears and answers but it isn't the answer for which he is looking.

God's face was against Balaam.

1 Pet 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. (KJV)

Balaam's prayers were for his personal gain and therefore answered accordingly. But they were heard and answered.

James 4:2-3 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (KJV)

2. Rich man.

Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (KJV)

Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: (KJV)

His prayer was heard and answered, but it wasn't the answer for which he had hoped.

II. What Does It Mean "God will not hear the prayer of a sinner."

A. Context is the most important thing when studying the Bible.

John 9:29-34 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

The blind man was speaking and he concluded that if a sinner were trying to do what Jesus did, that is heal him of his blindness, God would not hear his prayer. The conclusion was that this man was from God or else God wouldn't hear.

A sinner in rebellion to God, trying to heal the blind man of his prayer, would have gotten the answer Balaam got when he ask God to curse the Israelites. He would not have succeeded. That is all the blind man meant. This statement in John 9:31 should never be used to convince anyone that God does hear the prayer of a sinner. This may leave the immature Christian thinking that once you fail in your faithfulness to God he never wants to hear from you again. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This really has nothing to do with asking for forgiveness when we sin. The Bible is clear, God hears the prayers of those who are seeking to worship him and do his will even though we fail and are sinners.

B. Solomon Describes the type of person God will not hear.

Prov 1:22-33 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (KJV)

C. The type of sinner God hears.

Ps 34:17-18 The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (KJV)

Ps 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (KJV)

1 John 1:9-10 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (KJV)

D. Simon the soccerer is an excellent example.

Acts 8:22-24

III. God will answer the sinner's prayer of repentance.

Hosea 13:4-8 "But I am the LORD your God, out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. So I will come upon them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart. (NIV)

Hosea 14:1-2 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. (NIV)

Conclusion:

Matthew 18:21-22
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (KJV)

Our forgiveness is to be unlimited toward those who sin against us. If our forgiveness is to be patterned after God's forgiveness, does this not point out that God is committed to hearing a sinner's prayer for forgiveness.__

 

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