My son was asking me this week, saying how he’s not Christian and if he’s not Christian, will God listen to him. If God won’t listen to him because he’s not saved, then how can God save him if he DOES want to give his life to Christ?
It’s a really tough question I assure you. Sometimes, I can’t believe the questions that come from someone so little. He definitely challenges my thinking (in a good way)!
Does God answer prayers of people who aren’t saved?
Will God listen to the lost?
It’s a tough question for sure, but I think that ultimately, we can’t put God in a box.
In the past several years, I’ve seen so many Christians in my personal life try to put God in a box. Saying what He can or can’t do. What He should or shouldn’t do. We base everything on OUR knowledge of Him and OUR definitions of words and of the world and it’s so backwards of how we SHOULD be treating Him.
We don’t own God.
We can’t tell HIM what to do!
I think of the passage where it talks about the clay asking the potter what to make it. We are not boss over God like many people want us to believe.
I think the minute that we recognize that, the better. I’ve seen God do things that are not specifically stated in the Bible. I’ve seen Him do things that godly people say He can’t. He doesn’t. He won’t.
Just the other day, I was listening to a Pastor, who I absolutely adore, and he was saying the message that week he was going to preach about was given to him in his mind “out of the blue”.
That “out of the blue” message was a direct answer to a prayer I’VE been waiting for, for over a YEAR!!! I literally have it written down and a date of which I prayed it (11/5/19)! I keep track of these things.
You don’t think God uses people to show us things? Even if it is “out of the blue”? Yet, you will find plenty of people telling you that God doesn’t convict us through ANYTHING but His Word. It’s not true. He speaks to our hearts. He convicts us through morals HE Himself instilled in us. He convicts our hearts, He of which owns! If God wants to tell that Pastor something “out of the blue”, don’t you think the God of the universe can do it?!
Listen, things that are not expressly stated in the Bible, we can’t somehow take liberty to say He can’t or doesn’t do. That’s legalism. Trying to add on rules or regulations to people where the Bible doesn’t give a command…is legalism.
It seems a little manipulative to me. How they think that they can manipulate or own God. Like somehow God is this vending machine and if we put in the exact amount of change required, we’ll get our soda.
What happens when we don’t?
One of my previous Pastor’s used to tell me God doesn’t speak to us. He doesn’t tell us what to do. That at best, we can look backwards and see it was God leading us. This just isn’t true. Yes, we CAN look back and see God leading us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t know when He’s leading us at the time.
There are errors everywhere. We are not thinking according to what GOD CAN do, but rather what our limited minds THINK He can do!
When I spoke those words to my email list (here’s an exact copy of what was said), I received this email:
“God’s Word plainly tells us that He does NOT hear (listen to) the “prayers” of a lost person. But He DOES hear (listen to) the prayer of a lost person asking Jesus Christ to be his Lord and Savior, the prayer of a lost person repenting and giving his life over to Christ. Sending emails out saying anything otherwise, frankly, goes against the Word of God. It might sound nice to say this or that, but this or that isn’t God’s Word. His Word stands, not want we want it to say or not say, but what it DOES say. It’s not a tough question or a tough anything, it simply is God’s Word. Please don’t add or take away from it in your emails, as that only leads those astray who don’t know His Word.”
I gotta admit, my previous Pastor used to say the same thing and I’ve heard it from others as well. They accuse of leading people astray. It’s usually what the people say when they do not know the truth.
The truth is that God sent me here to teach you and He’s asked me very clearly (yes, through His Word if you want to debate that one) 😛 to tell you that HE, Himself has sent me! Believe me when I say, I did not want it. I’m not here because I chose it, I’m here because GOD CHOSE ME!
But He has given me an incredible amount of wisdom so that I CAN do His purpose. Wisdom that I’ve worked hard to cultivate over the last decade to understand as well because I want to be used by Him (maybe not in this way, haha, but used, none-the-less). By HIS grace alone, I’ve been able to understand so much more than what I used to be able to understand BECAUSE He is going to use me to reach others. I’ve gone so much more deeper into His Word and into understanding Him. Whenever He’s revealed Himself, I always double check everything, like a Berean, to make SURE it matches His Word. Constantly asking Him for confirmation of convictions so I know I’m following the RIGHT spirit, whether Pastor or conviction (1 John 4:1-6).
God has given me the unique job of shepherding people. It’s an insane amount of responsibility. I have to stand before Him when I die and account for every single person I teach.
That’s pretty daunting!!!
It is NOT at all something to be taken lightly. When He first convicted me of this plan, I laughed at Him. Told Him it’s impossible. I said, “NO!” I won’t do it. I sinfully rebelled. 🙁
I didn’t want any part of it. See, I KNOW the ramifications of teaching others. Of shepherding them. I KNOW I’m judged MORE HARSHLY by God BECAUSE I’m supposed to teach others. I didn’t want all that responsibility. I just wanted a simple life. Yes, help others, but wow…not be accountable for SO MUCH!
Then you have the whole issue of my not being worthy enough. Look at me. I’m just this single girl the world rejected. My ex-husband abandoned me and my kids. We ended up in a homeless shelter.
My previous church abandoned me. They believed a lie about me. They called ME a liar (to this day, I assure you, I did not lie and one day, they will all see I didn’t lie- in God’s perfect timing).
I was mocked and teased as a kid. Seemed like everyone hated me.
My mom abused me my whole life. Tried to kill me (yes, literally) one time. Beat me and treated me terribly.
All my life, I’ve been abused, thrown away, rejected, stomped on. It’s really difficult to think you’re worth ANYTHING when so many people who SHOULD love you, DON’T!!!
“I’m not WORTHY to shepherd people. I’m not WORTHY to teach others what you’ve taught me Lord. There’s no way,” I said.
And when He asked me to one day become a public speaker, that was just the funniest part of all.
“Really?! ME!!! You have GOT to be kidding me, Lord.”
Even my previous Pastor told me I’d never do it. I don’t have the right personality and tools, He said. He’s right! I don’t!
For many years, I wrestled with that conviction. Hoping it wasn’t true. Wanting it NOT to be true. I’m a wallflower!!!!
I hide. I run. I live in the shadows. My favorite place to BE is in the background. I don’t LIKE attention. I don’t LIKE the spotlight, because I’ve learned that the spotlight gets you teased and mocked, like I was as a kid.
For me in particular, this is NOT at ALLLL what I want. So I immediately prayed when He convicted me. I said, “Lord, I cannot speak. I can’t do this. I’m like Moses. I’m shy. I’m an introvert and you want me on stage teaching 5,000 people! Forget it. You KNOW I can’t.”
In MY mind, I thought that if I said that to Him, He’d change His mind. I thought that I could control HIM!!! 🙁
I thought that if I tell HIM NO, I can’t do this, won’t do this, He’d listen. There’s human will, right, I argued. That somehow He’d say, “Okay, Sarah. I see you don’t wanna do it. I won’t make you.” Because God wants us to be happy in the things He asks us to do, right? I tried to manipulate Him. I tried to turn His own Word back on Him. 🙁
Well, I know God wants us all to be happy serving Him and whatever He calls us to, we are happy in it. I won’t be happy in this so I’ll say no and that’ll be the end of that, right….?
Listen to me very carefully, you CANNOT, manipulate, turn God’s Word back on Him, or try to weasel your way out of anything He asks you to do. Yes, there’s human will, yes there’s His sovereign will but if He wants us to do something, we are not getting out of it.
So what I expected His answer to be, “Oh Sarah, I’ll forget it. You don’t have to be a public speaker,” came to be a very different answer.
Rather than saying what I THOUGHT (and hoped) He would say, He convicted me that He would bring me help. If I’m Moses, He’ll bring me Aaron. And He did. Within a VERY short amount of time, He indeed brought me Aaron, my best friend in the whole world and THIS man, is perfect at speaking!!! He’s literally TRAINED to speak. It couldn’t be a more perfect match!
God did every bit of what He said. And now I had no more excuses. haha. I knew I had to one day become a public speaker and one day…I will!
So how does any of that have to do with God not listening to the prayers of an unsaved person and the girl’s email?
Well, I’ve learned very clearly that we cannot, under any circumstances, manipulate God. I’ve learned that we cannot turn His Word back on Him in any way and that’s what she (and so many others I’ve seen) DO!!!!
They say to themselves in some pompous way, “Well God says He doesn’t listen to sinners, so that’s the end of it. I’m right and all the sinners are wrong. He listens to ME and not to THEM!”
See the PRIDE and arrogance in their heart????
They are using that verse to make themselves, somehow SUPERIOR to others. Am I SUPERIOR to an unsaved person. NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you follow me for long, I guarantee you, you will see that I am NOT perfect. I am NOT worthy to teach others the truths of God and yet, that’s the point!
He doesn’t USE pompous, arrogant people. He uses the meek, the humble. Listen……the noboby’s. I’m gonna cry.
I’m a nobody. The world rejected me. My church, my mom, my ex-husband, “Aaron”, the man who is supposed to help me accomplish God’s will, even rejected me! PUBLICLY! No one can say I’ve not had my fair share of rejection.
God uses me to teach you.
God used David to kill Goliath. David was a nobody at the time. A small little boy. There were trained militants who couldn’t defeat the Philistines in battle and yet, a small little boy did.
God does it to show the world it’s not the person. It’s GOD.
Without God’s help, there’s no way David would have been able to defeat Goliath.
WITH God, David not only defeated Goliath, but took over the kingship of Saul (when he was older), who was the king who okay’ed David to fight Goliath.
The story of David is an incredible story, truly, and in some ways, it’s similar to mine.
No one thought David could do it. No one believed in David. Yet, he became a very powerful king and Jesus was even born through David’s lineage!
So God took this small little boy that no one believed in and made him a great king and David isn’t the ONLY one in history God has done that for.
There’s Paul, who literally was KILLING CHRISTIANS, became one himself.
Mary was a very young woman, not noble in any way. God used her.
What about Moses. Doomed to die and God saved him as a baby.
The Bible is full of people who are small, insignificant, not worthy, but GOD uses them to become something GREAT!
Do people believe in you? Are YOU rejected too, like me?
If you are. If you were. If you have been. You are in a place of being USED by the Almighty God!!!
Am I better than someone who’s not saved? No! Can I use that passage to pre-suppose some arrogance? NO!!!!
I am no better than an unsaved, ungodly person. But to God, HE chooses, HEEEEEE chooses to use me in a mighty way. HEEEE chooses to save me. He loves EVERYONE. He wishes that NONE should perish.
Their attitude with that verse is like, “Well, God doesn’t listen to them. God is done with them and throws them away. So, I will too.”
It’s not right. We cannot and should not THROW AWAY the lost. That’s the whole reason we are here on Earth! God doesn’t just take us up to Heaven right away after conversion. He leaves us here to show OTHERS the path. So the attitude of saying, “Well, God doesn’t listen to them,” is just MEAN-spirited.
It’s true that God doesn’t OBEY non-believers. He’s not BOUND to listen to them or obey them, but that is not to say He doesn’t EVER answer the prayer of an unbeliever.
Look at Hagar. She prayed in Genesis 21 that her son be protected. What did God do? Not only did God protect her son, He blessed him.
Think about Nineveh. God spared them as well.
What about Rahab in Joshua 2? She was unsaved too at the time (a prostitute). She asked the spies to spare her and her family. In verse 12, it says, “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” (emphasis added)
God destroyed everything but her place!
God will answer prayers if they are according to HIS will. Again, He’s not bound to. He’s not obligated to, but this is HIS world. He can do as He pleases. He chooses to answer some and not answer some, but for the Christian, He always answers prayers.
I think it’s key that we need to FULLY understand the word “listen”.
In context, the Bible is not saying, He never, ever, under any circumstance listens.
It may seem like that’s what it says upon first glance, but we are here to dive deeper, right?! 🙂
So, let’s dive deeper.
He doesn’t HAVE TO listen. He doesn’t HAVE TO obey. This is true.
But if you say He never, ever listens at all, then how DOES someone become saved in the first place?
Shoots a hole right through their theology, doesn’t it?!
If God never listens to any unsaved person, you wouldn’t be saved.
Did you really, REALLY get that?
Lemme shout it from the mountain-tops…
If God NEVER listens to any unsaved person, ever, YOU…WOULD NOT…be saved.
Neither would I. Right, because we know that GOD is the One who initiates our salvation.
Think about it. He’d have to know us. He’d have to GET to know us. Hear us. Listen to us. In order to save us. Why?
He provides very specific challenges to get us to a place of repentance. And those challenges are different for each person.
For me, He allowed me to become HOMELESS (I was SOOOOO stubborn!) to get me to give my life to Him.
That makes me want to cry. I’m on the verge of tears right now. God had to do that, in order to get my attention. It was my fault. I caused it.
But God had to know enough about me, He would have had to listen to me and watch my life enough to know what EXACTLY WOULD get me to a place of salvation.
So the word “listen” cannot possibly mean He does not care. He’s afar off and He does not pay attention to. Right.
So if “listen” doesn’t mean what WE think it means, what DOES it mean?
And this is the problem. So many people interpret the Bible based on what THEY think a word means and when you fully understand the TRUE meaning of the word, the word that the WRITER intended, you get a lot more jewels.
Think about it like this, if you’re still not convinced.
The word “gay” used to mean happy. Carefree. Cheerful. It never, ever meant what we use the word NOW for. A man and a man or a woman and a woman. Same sex.
It MEANT happy!
It was only in the late 19th century that the word “gay” took on a whole new meaning.
Now, when someone says “gay”, we do not automatically assume they are saying happy.
And that was just a few short years ago. The best Bible-scholars believe the Earth is 6,000-ish years old and Jesus walked the Earth 2,000 years ago.
So if gay to happy to same sex happens in only a few short years, can you just IMAGINE what OTHER words mean something entirely different than what you think they mean!!!! Truly think about that.
So it’s not ENOUGH to just READ the Bible. We have to study it. We have to dive deeper. We have to learn the context of what others meant when they wrote the Bible, the terminology of GOD!
Back to the word “listen”. It doesn’t mean listen with your ears like you’re having a conversation with someone. It means more obeying.
God does not have to listen, or rather OBEY sinners. He doesn’t have to respond. He doesn’t have to answer them. He owes them nothing.
And here’s the whole point.
There’s a story in the Bible (Matthew 7:10-12) that says (paraphrased) if we as His children ask Him to do something, He will not give us bad gifts. If I ask God for a fish, He won’t give me a snake. If I ask Him to help me, He loves me, He’s going to help me.
Think about what you do for YOUR children!
If your kid comes to you crying and says, “Mom, I really need help. I’m having so much trouble. I’m just struggling. Can you help me.” You, as a good parent would not say, “You know what, I don’t care. Go somewhere else, I’m not going to help you.”
OF COURSE you will help them. OF COURSE YOU WOULD!!!! You’d be evil and mean if you didn’t.
God is not evil and mean and so when we, as a Christian, come to Him and pray, He will not turn us away. He will answer every single prayer you pray if you are saved.
Don’t believe me? 🙂
Start keeping a prayer journal (I do this) and very quickly you will see for yourself, He answers every prayer! 🙂 Maybe the answer is yes or no. Maybe it’s wait. But every prayer will be answered. You will see it with your own eyes.
So…does God answer EVERY prayer for the unsaved person like He does for the Christian? No. And that’s where the verse comes in.
He doesn’t have to listen to every prayer of the unsaved. He doesn’t have to obey them. If they ask Him for a fish, He will NOT give them a snake, but He’s not obligated to give them a fish either.
Because He listens to His children. That’s one of the great blessings we get AS a redeemed person.
Does that mean that we get everything we want? Man, I wish it did! haha. It doesn’t. Just because I’m a Christian, doesn’t mean I get everything I want. Not at all. But it DOES MEAN, that instead of being on His bad side, His judgement side, I’m on His good side. I’m family. He’s my father. I’m His daughter. He listens to me. If I ask Him for something, He’s going to listen. He promises.
So then the question becomes, what if an unsaved person prays to God. Does He listen?
God has to have some sort of working knowledge into an unsaved person’s life.
We already established that He doesn’t listen, meaning obey or being obligated to answer prayers of the unsaved, but there are places in the Bible that say He is very NEAR to the repentant person.
So, we can gather that God is near to a sinner at the time He becomes saved. And if He is there at the time of our salvation (because the Bible says at the time of someone’s salvation, all of Heaven rejoices-Luke 15:7), then He would have to be there in a moment they are NOT saved. If He’s there when they BECOME saved, think about this, He’s there with them at least in the few minutes leading UP TO their salvation.
So, “listen” cannot possibly mean that He doesn’t care or isn’t there because how would all of Heaven rejoice if no one was there when someone gives their life to God? No. The angels are watching, God is watching, God is glorified.
So the word “listen” doesn’t just mean with our ears. Because in that moment, He IS listening to them. He’s listening to the prayer, He’s answering their prayer. He’s watching them give their life to Him and He is letting them into the kingdom of Heaven. He’s writing their name in the Book of Life. So He’s not just afar off, never paying attention. He’s involved in our lives. He’s with us. Cheering for us. WANTING us to give our lives to Him.
I don’t like The Message Bible at all. I feel like it’s watered down too much and takes way too many liberalities in Scripture (personal view), however, in this particular case, I do feel like they have it right. In that version, it says in John 9:31 – “It’s well known that God isn’t at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will.”
He’s not at our beck and call as unbelievers AND He does listen CAREFULLY to those who live a reverential life.
Which we can also conclude that He doesn’t “listen to” an ungodly person, whether they are saved or not.
So all those prideful people thinking they are better than unsaved, should watch out because God says He won’t listen to ungodly too. I can tell you straight up, right now, that when we are in habitual, unrepentant sin, AS A BELIEVER, God is far from us. Sin separates us from God. So it’s not JUST the unredeemed He doesn’t “listen” to. It’s anyone who’s living in unrepentant, habitual sin.
I know that when I’m in sin personally, God doesn’t seem to answer my prayers. I’ll be praying for something specific and there’s just no answer there. It doesn’t “feel” like He’s listening at all. I’ll ask a friend to pray for me, someone who I know is currently right with the Lord, walking in His way, walking in the Spirit and then I’ll get an answer. Sometimes I have to do that to get His attention because I’m in sin and He won’t respond.
The same is true for everyone. When we are in sin, He seems far away. It feels like He’s not there. Like we can’t get His attention. We need to be restored into a right relationship with Him. We need to repent. And this is a constant battle in our lives as we deal with sin daily. Daily trying to take care of things, make sure we’re not walking away from Him, doing our own thing, but completely submissive to the Spirit of God and doing His will.
Another good way, is obviously, repentance. We want to say we’re sorry. We want to repent. But sometimes, our own sinfulness prevents us. Sometimes I won’t want to repent. I’m mad or something and I’ll want to brood over it. I’m completely in the wrong, and that’s why I ask a friend’s help. Pray for me. Pray for my sinfulness. Pray that I stop rebelling, because I can’t, in my own flesh, seem to stop rebelling. The sin is too strong and I need God to help me conquer this.
It’s like when I became a Christian. At first, I was saying, “Lord, I know I’m not saved, but I don’t wanna give up everything for you. I need help giving everything up for you so that I CAN accept you as my Lord and Savior because I’m terribly afraid I’m going to die and go to Hell before I give my life to you.”
Within a week of me praying that night and day, He DID enable me to give up everything for Him and THEN, and only then, was I able to give my life to Him. HE did that. HE helped me. On my own, I couldn’t do it.
That brings me to the next point. We know that a person doesn’t just give His life to God on his own accord. Even as a believer, we don’t just wake up one day and want to be holy unless it was GOD who first came after us.
We know that we do not just wake up one day and say, “Hey, you know what…the sun is shining, birds are chirping, I’m going to give my life to God.”
The Bible says there are NONE good. No, not even one.
None of us are good on our own. None of us, no one comes to Jesus without first God coming after us.
Okay, so how do you explain that then? If God doesn’t “listen” to us like YOU think He means it, how can HE come after US?
Unless He’s there and involved in our lives, knowing that there’s hope inside of us, cultivating us (allowing us to become homeless like He did to get MY attention), and sending people/the Bible in our lives to plant seeds FOR HIM, we would never become saved.
So there’s some sort of Him being involved with us, pre-salvation. Again, it’s not Him just leaving us, turning His back on us forever UNLESS we reject HIM.
When WE reject Him, then yes, absolutely, that is the only unforgiveable sin and especially when people become apostates (coming to the full understanding of the gospel message and turning their backs on Him).
But I refuse to believe that He wants everyone to die and go to Hell. And if He DOESN’T, then He’d HAVE TO, in some way, listen to us or hear us, pre-salvation. Yes, He is all-knowing so He knows everything from the beginning of the Earth, but He doesn’t just leave us all alone to die somewhere. That would be mean, and He’s not mean.
The truth is that He is constantly fighting for us.
I watched Him fight for my ex-husband, and my ex-husband is not elect. So you can’t say, “Well, God watches for those that are elect, KNOWING they will give their life to Him.” You can’t tell me that God wasn’t near to my ex-husband in the years preceding him leaving us and him becoming an apostate.
No. God was there. God was fighting for him. God wanted him to be saved. God did absolutely EVERYTHING to get my ex-husband to give his life to God and in the end, it was my ex-HUSBAND who rejected God. God was listening to my ex-husband, seeing he would not repent, KNOWING (foreknowledge) that he would NOT repent and still trying for at least three years prior to him becoming an apostate and him leaving us.
God was there. He was trying His guts out to help my ex-husband SEE and believe and trust in Him, yet he did not do it and God knew he wouldn’t. Still God tried. So that my ex-husband cannot face God when he dies and say, “Well, you never showed me yourself” or “I never understood”. It’s untrue. God fought for him. My ex-husband rejected God, not the other way around.
What I want you to learn from all this is this:
- We can’t manipulate God. We can’t throw back His words to Him thinking we can understand Him or that we know better than Him. God is God and we are not.
- We can’t take His word and become arrogant, saying to ourselves that we are better than others or becoming proud. That doesn’t honor Him at all.
- We absolutely MUST learn the original context of each WORD in the Bible so that we can understand things more clearly. You take just the word “listen” and by defining it properly and using other passages to define that one word in that passage, you get a greater sense of who God is and a greater capacity to understand. Scripture defines Scripture.
- If you want to truly understand God and have more wisdom, you have to put your pride away and be willing to be wrong…a lot. We don’t have God all figured out and we cannot put Him in a box.