Does God Answer the Prayer of the Non-Christian?

praying-handsDoes God answer the prayer of a non-Christian or does he not listen to the prayer prayed by a non-Christian?

The Bible tells us clearly that God does not hear the prayer of sinners.  In Psalm 66:18 we read, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.”  Proverbs 28:9 states, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.”  Peter quotes from Psalm 34:15-16 in 1 Peter 3:12 when he writes, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  Moreover, the Bible tells us that even the prayers of Christians may not be heard if they are asked from sinful motives.  Consider what James says in James 4:1-4:

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

So, God does not answer the prayers of sinners.  Are non-Christians sinners?  Yes, the Bible tells us that all have sinned (Romans 3:23).  And inasmuch as they have not obtained forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ (Matthew 26:28), non-Christians are sinners.  The conclusion is that God does not hear their prayers.

Having said that, God does provide for non-Christians in a general way as he provides for the Christian.  For example, Jesus said that God sends sunshine on the evil and good, and the rain on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45).  God also provides for fruitful seasons from which we gain food and gladness (Acts 14:17).  God anticipates everyone’s needs and has provided accordingly by creating a fruitful and productive earth.  In this general sense, sometimes it appears that God is answering the prayers of sinners, but He isn’t really because He isn’t treating them any differently than He treats anyone else, and specifically, even those who don’t pray to Him still receive many of these physical blessings.  God is certainly the source of all of these blessings, but they are not necessarily given in response to any one prayer.

In this regard, God has also provided for everyone’s salvation by sending Jesus.  His death on the cross is a statement to all mankind that if they will trust in Jesus for salvation, God will save them.  He doesn’t do this in response to any particular person’s prayer, per se, but in response to the great spiritual need that mankind has to be saved from sin.  John 3:16 tells us that God loved the whole world in such a way that anyone who decides to believe in Jesus may be saved.  Moreover, God doesn’t want anyone to be lost.  He wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

There are a set of blessings, however, that are reserved for the saints alone.  Paul discusses these in Ephesians 1:3.  He talks about being blessed with every spiritual blessing that is in Christ.  Only those who are in Christ have access to these blessings.  Paul lists some of them here in Ephesians 1.  They are: being chosen by God, holiness, blamelessness, sonship, acceptance, redemption, forgiveness of sins, inheritance, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  These are not part of God’s general blessing upon mankind.  These are reserved only for those who are in Christ.  A sinner can pray for these things all day long, and he will not receive them because he is not in Christ.