by Matt Slick
Generally speaking, God does not answer the prayers of unbelievers because they are not sanctified in Christ. The requests and demands that they might make in prayer are not through the sanctifying work of the sacrifice on the cross, nor are they being humbly subject to the will of God. Therefore, God does not answer the prayers of unbelievers. Furthermore, Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear." Because unbelievers have not been redeemed and are not capable of seeking God in truth (Romans 3:10-12), they are then slaves of sin (Romans 6:14-20) and cannot glorify God because they are regarding wickedness in their hearts. In other words, they are looking upon wickedness with favor because they are seeking their own will apart from the saving work of Christ. Therefore, God does not answer their prayers.
Isaiah 59:2 says, "But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear." We can see here that sin separates us from God. The unbeliever--because of his sin--is separated from God. Because he has not been forgiven of his sins by trusting in Christ, his sins remain and, therefore, so does the separation between God and him. This is another reason why God will not hear the prayers of unbelievers.
James 4:3 says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." Because the motives of unbelievers cannot be ultimately godly, their prayers will not be answered.
- 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
All people need to trust in Christ and what He has done on the cross. We need to realize that all of our sins are cleansed in Jesus. So, if unbelievers repent of their sins and ask God to forgive through Christ, then that is the prayer God will answer.