HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
KEY FIVE: GOD OFTEN HEARS THE UNCONVERTED
An important aspect of the above point about being merciful and forgiving others is the need to humbly realize that God often hears even the prayers of completely unconverted individuals who cry out to Him. Of course, we know that God has said:
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1–2).
It is certainly true that God will virtually never hear those who are sinning and in a wrong attitude. But, there are millions of sincere people who think they are truly worshipping God and are simply deceived. God, Himself has allowed this! And in His inspired Word, God explains that it is “the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).
Also, Jesus Christ tells us very clearly:
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).
It is very important that we do not self-righteously assume that God only hears the prayers of those who are converted and are obeying Him. Again, what about those sincere people who are not yet called? And what about you and me before we were called and converted? As I look back on my own life, I definitely remember several times when God absolutely intervened in answer to my prayers. He was “calling” me. He was beginning to reveal Himself to me as a “real” God by intervening in my life. He has done and will do the same for many, many others all over the world.
Remember the story of the Pharisee and the publican in 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.“
So the Creator will often hear the prayers of weak or spiritually blinded people who humbly pray to Him. He will not hear them if they knowingly disobey Him or are in a wrong attitude. He will not hear those who directly pray to idols or to false “gods.” But our merciful Father will hear those who—though ignorant of His full revelation—sincerely cry out to Him as the Creator and the true God.
The above understanding is beautifully expressed in Psalm 107:23–24, 27–31:
“They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. 28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. 31 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!“
We all know of vain, disobedient or even “worldly” professing Christians who frankly “brag” about answered prayer or tell wild stories of constant “miracles” in their churches or in their lives. This religious boasting and even falsifying is a real detriment to true Christianity and could easily be a stumbling block to those being called who see through this sham. But, if your friend or neighbour sincerely and heartfeltly prays to the God of heaven, he or she may be heard because God knows that their ignorance of His ways is not deliberate and that their sincerity is very real.