“Wait Ben, I thought God was omniscient. He knows everything everybody thinks and says. How can He not hear someone’s prayer?” Well, it depends on the definition of ‘hear.’ God is aware of everyone’s prayers (because He is all-knowing), but He only promises to hear (i.e. respond to) the prayers of certain people.
Are you one of those certain people?
Let’s find out. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you in Christ? This is really important to understand: God does not hear the prayers of non-Christians. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). That “if” is really important to notice. How do I enter into Christ? By following God’s plan of salvation (i.e. Acts 2:38) and being baptized into Him (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:27). One must be “in Christ” (be a Christian) and “abide/remain” in that state (continuous, sustained state of salvation). You must not drift and fall away from Christ (Heb. 2:1). The prayers of the distant and the superficial disciple will not be heard (cf. 1 John 3:22).
2. Are you praying in harmony with God’s Will? Behind every prayer should be the ultimate desire that God’s Plan will be accomplished (Matt. 6:10). Would you really want something that God doesn’t? If you love God more than anything else (Luke 10:27), you will prefer His Will over yours. God hears every prayer that is in accordance with His Will (1 John 5:14-15). When you pray, pray with the attitude that you prefer God’s desire over your own.
3. Are you praying in faith? Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Matt. 11:24). Our faith in prayer shouldn’t be blind. Rather, faith is build upon evidence (Heb. 11:1) – the evidence of God’s Word and the trust you have in His promises. Your prayers must be made in faith (Matt. 21:22; Jas. 1:6).
4. Are you humble? If you think about it, compared to the Creator and Divine Judge of the Universe, we are absolutely nothing. If you are praying to God with even an ounce of pride or arrogance, do you think He will hear you? God only hears the prayers of those who are humbly fearful of Him (cf. Luke 18:9-14).
5. Are you faithfully obedient to the Lord? God only hears the prayers of the righteous (1 Pet. 3:12) and those who keep His commandments (1 John 3:22). Of course, I don’t mean ‘self-righteous.’ Christians are made righteous through Christ (Rom. 5:19), and we maintain our righteousness by serving Him to the best of our ability every day for the remainder of our lives (Luke 9:23). “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous” (Psa. 34:15), and “the prayer of a righteous person has great power” (Jas. 5:16). Make sure you are always walking “in the light” (1 John 1:5-7).
6. Is there someone you need to forgive? As noted earlier, your sins must be forgiven in order for your prayers to be heard. How can you expect to be forgiven if you fail to forgive someone you know? This principle is best illustrated by the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:23-35). God will not forgive us if we are not eager to forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15).
7. Are you having family problems? When there is conflict in the home due to the husband’s failure to demonstrate the qualities in 1 Peter 3:7, Peter says his prayers are “hindered.” If your home does not conform to the attributes of Ephesians 5:22-33, you are in violation of God’s design for marriage, and your prayers will not be heard.
8. Are your motives pure? “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly” (Jas. 4:3). Are you praying because doing so somehow makes you feel ‘spiritual’? Are you praying to be seen by others? Are you doing something immoral, like playing the lottery, and praying that you will win? Are you praying for something trivial, like the performance of your favorite sports team? God knows our motives (Prov. 16:2). Make sure you are praying with His Will in view.
I crammed a bunch of material into a small post. What would you like to add?