We all know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but only to godly people who do his will. That’s what a man said in the gospel of John, when he was defending Jesus against the Pharisees.
There are several passages in the Old Testament that agree with that statement. A psalmist wrote that if he had cherished sin, God wouldn’t have listened to him. Solomon said God hears the prayers of the righteous, but is far from the wicked. He also said that if anyone ignored his moral instruction, their prayers would be detestable. When God’s people sinned, their prayers just made him angry, and he wouldn’t listen to them. He covered himself with a prayer-proof cloud!
If you half-heartedly engage in religious rituals, but your behavior isn’t actually good, you can’t expect God to hear you, because your sins separate you from God and hide his face from you. If you don’t listen when God calls, God won’t listen when you call. God doesn’t even want to let wicked people ask him anything in the first place.
Even just being related to a sinner was enough to keep Saul from getting an answer from God. God pretty much never listens to people at all, so of course he doesn’t listen to sinners. Or is it that he always listens to everyone, so he does of course listen to sinners…?
Well, God does listen to what sinners say enough to get angry about it. But does he actually listen to sinners and answer them? Yep.
When King Saul used divination tools, which was against God’s law, to find out which of his men had sinned, God listened and cooperated and gave him the answer. And when God/Jesus confronted the other Saul (Paul), who had been beating, imprisoning, and killing all the Christians he could find, and he asked who was speaking to him, God listened to his question and told him the answer. But does he actually listen to sinners’ requests and do what they ask him to do? Yep.
When people rebelled against God’s commands, he punished them, but when they cried out to him, he saved them. Many times, when God punished his people for their sins, he relented because he heard them groaning. God thought his people’s conduct was shameful and disgraceful, yet he repeatedly yielded to their pleas. Even after he claimed he would no longer save them, God just couldn’t help rescuing those sinners when they cried out to him.
God was planning a more extreme punishment for his people than ever, but apparently they wept and pled for him to spare them, and he not only relented, but completely turned around and blessed them instead.
When the Israelites asked to have a king appointed over them, God thought that was evil, but that didn’t stop him from giving them what they asked for. When David provoked God’s wrath, God heard and accepted his cry for mercy. God accepted King Solomon’s request to always listen and forgive his people when they sinned and then prayed toward his temple. Manasseh was an evil king who did all kinds of things God didn’t like, but when he prayed for God’s favor, God listened to him and was persuaded to stop punishing him.
After Jonah disobeyed God and got swallowed by a fish, he called out for help, and God listened and answered his cry.
Jesus said everyone who asks receives, with no exception for sinners. He contradicted himself later, but he still said even if God doesn’t listen to everyone, the people who draw attention to the fact that they’re sinners are the ones who God will listen to and do what they ask.
Simon Peter thought another guy named Simon was wicked and captive to sin, and he advised him to pray to God to forgive him, which would be pointless if God didn’t listen to sinners.