The following is based on an analogy I will often share with unbelievers who insist they have a relationship with God, through prayer.
It was late when the young man entered the house. His father was waiting for him.
“Dad,” the son began, “I want to tell you that I love you. I thought you would like to hear that.
“But, dad, I want you to stay out of my life. I’m my own man and I make my own rules. I do not need or want you to tell me what to do. You have no authority over me. I’m not going to obey you. Just stay out of my life.
“Oh, and all those letters you sent me; not only did I not read them, but I never even opened the envelopes. Come to think of it, I don’t even believe you wrote the letters. And since I’m making my own rules and my own decisions, what could you have to say in the letters that would be of any value to me.
“Dad, I just want you to stay out of my life. The only time I want to speak to you is if I want or need something. When I call you (if I call you), you had better pick up the phone. On those occasions when I do call, you had better agree to give me what I want. If you don’t, well, I will just use that as an excuse to be angry with you. I might even deny to others that you’re my dad.
“Remember, dad. I love you. I’m glad we had this chat.”
Without saying a word, the father left the room. Several weeks later, the son wanted something from his father. He dialed his father’s number, growing impatient with each successive ring. There was no answer.
A couple of weeks later, the son called his father again. Still, there was no answer. Over time, whenever the son called the father, he convinced himself that his father answered the phone and listened to every word he said; even though the only sound coming from the other end of the line was a ringing phone.
Each day the son grew angrier with his father. Yet he told his friends that he talked to his dad all the time and that he had a great relationship with him.
Many people claim to have a relationship with God, believing that God hears and answers their prayers. Yet these same people refuse to submit to the authority of God and His Word (the Bible). They refuse to obey His commands. Their only real interest in talking to God is to either receive something from Him, to get out of trouble, or to receive relief from some form of hardship.
Sadly, God is not listening to their prayers. He is not on the other end of the phone, so to speak. Like the father in the story, God is under no obligation to pick up the phone for those who do not love Him or obey His commands. He is under no obligation to hear and answer their prayers.
The Bible says:
“The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayers of the righteous” (Prov. 15:29).
“They cried for help, but there was none to save, even to the Lord, but He did not answer them” (Psalm 18:41).
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but they will not find me, because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 1:28-29).
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood” (Isa. 1:15).
“If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments . . . He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:15; 15:21).
God only hears the prayers of those who are known by Him and who are truly His children. Many people believe they are one of God’s children because they believe in God and because they consider themselves to be a good person.
Do you consider yourself to be a good person? If you answered yes, then honestly answer the following questions to see if that is true.
Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen anything, no matter how small or how long ago? Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Have you ever used His holy name to express disgust or excitement? Then according to God’s Law (The Ten Commandments), and by your own admission, you are a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart. Does that sound like a good person? If God judges you according to the perfect standard of His Law, He will find you guilty and sentence you to eternity in hell, which is the just punishment for your sins against Him.
One who is facing eternity in hell is not a child of God. Rather, such a person is a child of wrath.
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:3).
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
But there is good news.
God doesn’t want to send you to hell. So, He sent His sinless Son, Jesus Christ—God in the flesh. He took upon himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God when He shed His innocent blood and died on the cross. Three days later, He defeated death when He rose from the grave.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even though we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:4-9).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:8-9).
So, what must you do to be saved? You must recognize that you cannot save yourself or escape God’s judgment. You must confess your sins against God, repent (turn away from your sins), and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. The promise is that when you stand before God, instead of receiving what you rightly deserve for breaking His Law—eternity in hell, you will receive what you do not deserve—grace, mercy, and the free gift of eternal life.
Then He will hear your prayers.
“But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer nor His lovingkindness from me” (Psalm 66:19-20).
“For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard” (Psalm 22:24).
Turn away from your sin. By faith, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Cry out to Him in repentance and faith. He will hear you.