The Christian has many “exceeding great and precious promises” (II Pet. 1:4).  Among those promises is prayer as our avenue of access to the Father.  This avenue of prayer, contrary to what many in the religious community teach, is not available to the sinner.  We are advised in 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.”  Notice that there are two requirements that must be met before God “hears” our prayers.  We must be a worshipper of God and we must be doing His will.  Our worship cannot be of our own choosing for Jesus said, “the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.  God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and  in truth” (John 4:23-24).  And it seems apparent that to be a doer of His will we must be “doers of the word,” which is “a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (James 1:22;  Psalm 119:105).

Peter also makes this clear in his first epistle when he plainly says, “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” (I Pet. 3:12).  Only by observing what Peter had just written concerning our duties as brethren (I Pet. 3:8-11), can we be assured of the Lord’s gracious eyes watching over us and of His ears being open to our prayers.  On the other hand, the Lord’s face is “against them that do evil,” and He will not hear their prayers.  It also becomes apparent as we compare both of these statements concerning whose prayers the Lord hears, that being righteous involves worshipping God correctly and doing His will. 

Isaiah wrote, “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” (Isa. 59:1-2).  And Solomon warns that “He that turneth away His ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Prov. 28:9).  Abomination means “a detestable thing.”  Thus Solomon is saying that the prayer of one who refuses to listen to God’s law is a detestable thing in His sight.  Obviously the Bible leaves no room for the “sinner’s prayer.”  Isn’t it strange that the majority of the religious world ignores what the Bible teaches along this line?  And to do so would make their prayers detestable in the sight of the Father!

Prayer then, is a tremendous privilege of God’s people.  When trouble comes, the faithful Christian will continue to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17).  James encouraged us, “Is any among you afflicted?  Let him pray” (James 5:13).  And Paul urges us to “pray for all men” (I Tim. 2:1-2).  When God’s conditions are met, He has promised to hear and answer our prayers. (Matt. 7:7;  I John 3:22;  I John 5:14-15).

This does not always mean that He answers our prayers as we would have thought.  Consider the great apostle Paul. During his lifetime as a Christian he was a man of prayer.  This can be determined by the many times that he mentions his prayer life.  You can see many examples of this just by reading the first and last chapters of his epistles.   Here are a few things to consider about his life and the way God provided for him.  He  was caught in a storm, but God brought him through it;  the soldiers planned to kill Paul and all the prisoners, but the centurion saved them;  they washed up on the island of Malta, having lost everything, but their lives were spared.  And then Paul was bitten by a snake (Acts 27-28)!  While God did not remove the great apostle from his problems, He did take him through them.  In the same manner God will take you and me through the problems we face from day to day in living the Christian life.

Consider II Corinthians 12:7-9.  Paul had a thorn in the flesh.  He asked God three times to remove it.  Instead of removing it, God made him able to bear it and through it, He demonstrated that His “grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9).  And don’t forget His promise in I Corinthians 10:13 to not permit our temptations to be greater than our ability to bear up under them; He even promises to provide “a way of escape.”

So don’t neglect to pray!  Remember, “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto the Lord” (Phil. 4:6).

Paul M. Wilmoth January 18, 1944  –  April 5, 2021