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Who Can Pray?

Who Can Pray?
By Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
December  2007

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Prayer is one of the greatest privileges offered to man.  However, it is not a right that all men have.  There are certain restrictions made in God’s Word which show definite requirements for man to meet in order to be heard of God.  The first is that a man must be a believer.  The Bible says a man must “ask believing” (Matthew 21:22; James 1:6).  Obviously, a person must be a believer in the Lord to “ask believing.”
Not all people who believe in Jesus are willing to do what He says.  During His earthly ministry, “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66).  They were not willing to obey Him, yet they had come to believe in Him.  In order for the believer’s prayer to be heard, he must do the will of God.  The man cured of blindness by Jesus told the Jews who questioned him, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (John 9:31 NKJ).   “We know” indicates a principle they all had learned from the Law of Moses.  This was taught time and time again.  The prophet of God wrote in Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
The Lord demands that a man must confess before other men that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.  (Romans 10:9,10; Acts 8:37).  It is God’s will that all “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38 NKJ).  And the worshiper who “does his will, him he heareth.”
A man’s prayer will be uttered in vain unless he is willing to do the things the Lord says.  Jesus asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).  Too many expect God to hear them while ignoring His commandments and failing to obey them.  John wrote, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22).
Believing, alone, is not sufficient.  There must be a performance of the things commanded by God.  Saul of Tarsus spent three days, as a sinner, fasting and praying after he became a believer in Christ and then was told how to obtain forgiveness of sins.  At the end of that time he was told by the man whom God had sent, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).  For his prayer to be heard, he must “keep [the Lord’s] commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
What would an alien sinner pray for anyway?  The Scriptures say that to please God a person must have faith (Hebrews 11:6).  Should he pray for faith?   Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Faith comes from hearing the word of God, not praying.  Jesus said, “Repent or parish” (Luke 13:3).  Should he pray for repentance?  No, the Scripture says, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).  Repentance is a turning in the sinners heart. 
Jesus demands that a person confess Him as being the Son of God.  That is something that must be done by an alien sinner in order to become a child of God.  He shouldn’t pray for it to happen, but he must choose to confess Christ before men.  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9,10).  There is nothing to pray for here.
If a sinner hears the gospel of Jesus Christ, which leads him to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if he is willing to turn in repentance from sin, and confess his belief in Christ before men, he is then in a position to be baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 2:38), for his salvation (1 Peter 3:21), to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16).  He can be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3); he can rise to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), because he has “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:16,17).
How do we know?  As certainly as Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), just that certainly we can know that we are saved when we believe and are baptized.  Since He is the Savior we can trust that he is telling us the truth necessary for us to know for salvation.  Jesus also said, “But he that believeth not, shall be damned.”