Does the Bible say that God hears all prayers? “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (1 John 5:14, ESV).
On What Grounds?
Picture this courtroom scene: a criminal is found guilty of multiple heinous charges and the judge justly sentences him for the charges committed. He is guilty with no questions, and then the criminal asks the judge: “Can I have a queen size Tempur-Pedic mattress in my cell? And maybe a second floor cell?” Absurd. The criminal has no grounds to make this request.
Picture going to the store: a young boy runs up to another father with his children. The boy sees how much the father loves and provides for his children so the boy asks him for numerous requests: things to buy for him, ways that he needs his attention, and future plans to be given to him. Comical. The boy has no grounds to make these requests.
Do you see the theme? God only responds to the prayers of those who have the standing to make them.
Every Man’s Shaky Ground
Because our original sin and guilt is inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12), we are all born sinners and sinning. As R.C. Sproul once said, we are not sinners because we sin but rather we sin because we are sinners.
All people are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) and go astray from God even from birth (Psalm 58:3). No man has the ability and right to approach Him on his own.
In God’s sight, we are the guilty criminals making requests to the Judge. In God’s view, we are the estranged sons and children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
Put simply: none of us are righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10-11). The spiritual state of every sinner born on the earth is in enmity with God (Romans 5:10, 8:7-8).
The biblical reality may be shocking to some, but God’s Word is clear: there is no man born in a right, pleasing condition before God who is able to make requests to Him.
Proverbs 15:8 says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him,” and likewise 15:29, “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous,” (ESV).
The Blood-Stained Ground
There is only one person after the Fall who has been able to approach the holy, holy, holy God on His own righteousness and life: Jesus Christ, the God-man.
He is “the righteous” One (1 John 2:1, ESV), the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24). Of His own righteousness and position before God the Father, He alone is worthy of all acceptance and honor before God.
It is with Christ and Christ alone that God looks upon and declares, “with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11, ESV). On the cross therefore, Christ is counted as a child of God’s wrath, as a guilty criminal so that He could remove the guilt of sinners.
The good news of the gospel is that the smile of God earned by Christ is credited to the sinner by faith alone (see Romans 4:4-8).
2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Christ was counted or charged with the sins and guilt of His people so that His people could be counted or charged with His righteousness.
Only in Christ is a sinner given right standing with God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ; He was declared the Son of God in power of His resurrection so that by faith alone we could be declared the sons of God through reconciliation (see Romans 1:4).
The only ones who can approach God are those who stand on the blood-stained ground of Calvary. They make their requests upon the basis of another; they approach the Judge on the merits of the Righteous One; they enter in God’s presence by adoption as sons through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5).
God will hear the prayers of those who come to Him through the merits of Christ. One of the many uncountable blessings of the Christian life is that the Sovereign Ruler of the skies hears my cries.