|Volume 23 Number 8 August 2021
I learned of a conversation some time ago in which a person who was down on his luck was arguing that “maybe your God answers your prayers, but my god doesn’t hear a thing I say.” Could this possibly be true? Why would a loving God turn His ears away from someone who was imploring Him for something? Could there be a reasonable explanation? Indeed! There is, and the Bible has the inspired answer.
“Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31 NKJV). Let us also be wise enough to understand that there is only one God of Heaven (Ephesians 4:6) and “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:15). These verses, along with a myriad of others, define the condition of God hearing a person’s prayer. Look at the reason Israel was told that God wouldn’t listen to them. “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 59:2). One who chooses to live in disobedience to God can rest assured that his prayers will not be answered. At least they will not be answered in the way he wished. A righteous prayer will always get God’s attention.
The Israelites suffered 400 years in Egyptian bondage, but when they cried unto God, their prayers were heard, and they were delivered. Guess what? Almost immediately they began bellyaching and complaining. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, the Israelites pressured Aaron to make a golden calf so they could worship it. God allowed all of this, since man is a free moral agent, but the fact that they could do this, was by no means a license to so do. Remember? “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). When Aaron finished fashioning the golden calf, it was said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4). Many years later, the apostle Paul said, “they are not gods which are made with hands” (Acts 19:26).
Most people admit that graven images – objects made of wood, stone or precious metals – cannot see, hear or answer man’s cries. A great segment of these same people, however, fail to see or to admit that there are many gods that are created in the minds and in the hearts of mankind. There is the god of alcohol! There are gods of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription drugs that are abused. There is a god of lying, one of cheating, one of deceit and multitudes of others that have been formulated to try to justify ungodliness and sinful lives. Many are pitifully deluded and proverbially would sell their souls for one bowl of red “pottage” (KJV) or “stew” (NKJV) (Genesis 25:30).
There is a simple but very clear reason why God doesn’t answer the sinner’s prayer.
Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. (Proverbs 1:24-30)
“Thus you shall say to them: ‘The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens” (Jeremiah 10:11). One who has chosen to leave the one true God, should expect no answer from his god because it does not hear, speak or answer!
[Editor’s Note: Of course, there are additional reasons, besides the futility of a sinner’s prayer, for which the prayer of even faithful children of God may not receive the answers desired. Not everyone whose prayers are not answered as one wishes is necessarily a sinner whose prayers God will not entertain. That, though, remains a study for another time. Suffice it to say for the moment that prayers by faithful Christians need to be according to the will of God (1 John 5:14), may be answered later than sooner (Luke 18:7), may be answered immediately (Isaiah 65:24) or may be answered differently than one hoped (2 Corinthians 12:8). No discernible answer may be an answer of “No.” There are some things set in motion by the introduction of sin into the world that must run their course – such as death – that even earnest prayers by Christians cannot prevent. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
Prosecutors and Advocates
In simple terms, our courts of law consist of two sides. The prosecutor’s job is to prove to the jurors beyond a doubt that the accused is guilty of whatever he is accused. The other side is the defense attorney, whose job is to convince the jurors that the accused person is innocent of the accusation. If the accused has committed a heinous crime, we certainly want a prosecutor who will dedicate himself to the work at hand and come up with a conviction to keep the accused incarcerated or punished by death, if that is the case. We surely don’t want that person to be turned loose to go back to his old ways. Sometimes, rehabilitation is a great way of making productive citizens out of those convicted, but sometimes, not so much.
On the other hand, if someone is accused of a crime that he didn’t commit, he wants the best defense attorney available. Oftentimes, people go to great lengths to hire someone who comes with a big price tag, hoping that the well-known defense attorney will live up to his established reputation of being successful at his job. People will go to great lengths to gain freedom from what they are accused, even if guilty.
I couldn’t help but think of the fact that people worldwide have the best of both of these beings. Every one of us has a prosecutor because every one of us has “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV). From the very beginning, we read of sin being the downfall of man. We read in Genesis 4:7, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.” Sin stands at the door of every one of us, and we’ve all succumbed to it. We will have to continue the battle with Satan and sin as long as we live in the flesh.
As faithful as the apostle Paul was, he knew he had a battle on his hands every day, for he said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection” (1 Corinthians 9:27). How did Paul train his body to ward off sin? He was constantly diligent about keeping God’s commandments. He didn’t practice a now and then religion and he never let his guard down. Christians must be diligent in the same way.
Like the faithful before us, there are several things that God’s children must do to keep Him close. (1) Just as Paul did, the faithful must daily be in subjection to God’s will. (2) The faithful must “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This does not imply that you are to forever go around saying a prayer, but one must always be in a state of mind to be able to speak to God and do it often. (3) A Christian will ‘search the scriptures daily’ (Acts 17:11). How can one know how to please God if he does not know what God expects of him? (4) The faithful will “deny himself, and take up his cross daily” (Luke 9:23). Yes, just as Christ did, we have a cross to bear. I like what Brother George DeHoff says about this: “Jesus here gives a lesson on total commitment.” We must unfailingly bear our daily burdens and yet stay faithful. (5) Paul admonished Christians to “exhort one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13). Christians can depend on each other to lend a helping hand of whatever sort and be strengthened by the “oneness.” We can’t paddle this boat alone!
We’ve talked about the prosecutor, but now, let’s talk about the defense attorney. “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus Christ is our Advocate – the best defense attorney ever! He is the One between us and God. Just as we saw above that everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s expectations, we also see that God “…Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood” (Romans 3:24-25). All men are sinners, but all men can appease God through the blood of Christ by being faithful to His commandments. God’s Son was the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and God will forgive men’s sins if they are obedient in becoming Christians and following the New Testament pattern of Christianity. Sinners are not orphans without hope. We have a loving Father Who is able and willing to forgive sinners and accept them as His children. The prosecutor will convict every one of us of our sins, but sins by the children of God will also be appeased by the best Defense Attorney. Glory be to God for such a wonderful system of justice!