God hears every prayer of every person, just as He hears every curse word, every lie and every bit of gossip. The real question is, “Does God hear and answer every person’s prayer?” The Bible answers that question in John 9:31, “We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do His will, him He heareth.” We notice here that God promises to hear those who worship Him and do His will, but no promise is made for those who refuse to obey Him!
The Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Why? Because God hears and answers their prayers. When one is unrighteous and refuses to do the will of God, he/she is separated from God, and He will not hear and answer their prayers. “Then will they call upon me, but I will not answer: They will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me” (Prov. 1:28).
Also in Isaiah 59:2, “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, andyour sins have hid His face from you, so that He will not hear.” This statement, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners,” was not made with regard to citizens or alien sinners. The blind man, in this context, was speaking of Christ, who was a citizen of the kingdom of Israel, thus a part of God’s people. The blind man was stating a truth that is found in other places in the scriptures-- Isaiah 59:1-2; Proverb 1:24-28. The point in these passages is that God will not hear the prayer of anyone who rebels against His will.
We know that God heard the prayers of Cornelius and Saul before they became Christians, so under what conditions does God hear one who is not a Christian? We don’t know exactly what Cornelius prayer, but it is clear that God acted as a direct result of his prayer. If that isn’t answering prayer, what is? (Acts 10:30-32) The angel definitely told him, “Thy prayer is heard, therefore send for Peter.” His prayer did not save him, for Cornelius was still a sinner in Acts 11:14, but his prayer was heard, and God answered it. Why? Cornelius was seeking the Lord’s will and when he learned it, he immediately obeyed it (Acts 10:48).
In the case of Saul of Tarsus, he met the Lord on the road to Damascus, and spent the next three days and nights praying. He was heard (Acts 9:6,11), because he was anxious to do the Lord’s bidding, which he did as soon as he was told it (Acts 22:16).
The Bible tells us about acceptable prayer in I John 3:22, “Whatsoever we ask we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.” In other words, when we seek God’s will and determine to mold our lives according to it, God willhear and answer our prayers!
Let me emphasize that prayer is no substitute for obedience, but is instead dependent upon it. Remember that Saul prayed for three days and nights, but his sins were not washed away until he was baptized (Acts 22:16).
The bottom line is that God will hear anyone who obeys, or in the cases of Cornelius and Saul, those who were determined to obey Him. When one is intent on doing God’s will, his prayer will be heard. But God refuses to hear and answer the prayers of one who is in rebellion to Him and His word.