A healthy prayer life is essential to being a faithful child of God. We are commanded to “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), which means that we must pray numerous times a day, even to the point that we lose track of how many prayers we have said in one day. As Christians, we have been given the privilege of having our Creator listen to and answer our prayers. However, what about those accountable individuals who have not been baptized into Christ or who are Christians but are unfaithful? Does God hear the prayers of those who are not faithful just as he does with faithful Christians?
First of all, let’s look at what characteristics make up a faithful Christian. A faithful Christian has followed the Plan of Salvation. He or she has heard the Word of God (Romans 10:17), believes what the Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 16:16), repented of his or her past sins (Acts 2:38), confessed that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32), and was baptized for the remission of sins and therefore, has become a member of the church of Christ (Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:17-22). Also, in accordance with this Plan of Salvation, a faithful Christian works to remain faithful throughout his or her life (Revelation 2:10). No one can become a Christian and a child of God unless he or she follows these steps and is baptized by being totally immersed in water, thus becoming a member of the church of Christ (Acts 2:47, Colossians 2:12).
So, once accountable people have become Christians, they have the ability to have their prayers heard and answered by God, so long as they are living faithfully. What does it mean to live a faithful Christian life? It means to study the Bible everyday (II Timothy 2:15), to attend church services every first day of the week unless sick or caring for the sick (Hebrews 10:25; Acts 20:7) along with assembling at other times in which the Elders deem that all are to assemble (Hebrews 13:17), to overflow with good works (II Peter 1:1-11, I Timothy 6:18-19), to pray regularly and frequently (I Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12), and to live in obedience to God’s Word (James 2:17-18). Also, in order to have our prayers heard, we must pray in a way that is pleasing to God. We must pray with a humble spirit such as the publican did in Luke chapter 18, where he uttered a prayer, not to be seen of men, declaring himself a sinner before God. We should not pray to God in a boastful way as the Pharisee did, in which he praised God for making him better than the publican. We must always go before God in prayer with humility and meekness in our hearts, and we must also be unselfish in our prayers, so as not to ask for things we do not need in hopes of exalting ourselves before others. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).
What about those who are either not Christians or are unfaithful Christians? God does not hear the prayers that the unfaithful utter unto Him, neither does he answer the prayers of the unrighteous. I Peter 3:12 states; “For 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” Also, Proverbs 28:9 states; “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” If a person is not a member of the church of Christ, is not attending church services regularly, or is unfaithful in some other way, they do not have the privilege of having their prayers heard by God. In order to be heard by God, a person must either become a Christian, or if the person is an erring Christian, the person must repent of his or her sins (Acts 8:22), confess those sins (I John 1:9) , and through prayer receive forgiveness, and then work on being a faithful Christian throughout his or her life here on earth.
Prayer is such an important part of the Christian life, because we need God’s Help in every aspect of our lives. Prayer helps in any situation, and if we put all of our trust in God, there is no challenge in this life that we cannot overcome. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). In order for God to help us, however, we must do our part in being faithful Christians in all aspects of our lives here on the earth. Our lives will be richly blessed for our efforts, and we will have the ultimate reward in Heaven in the end!