Ask Your Preacher
Does God hear or answer an unsaved person’s prayer? I am saved but have been wanting some Scripture to answer my question.
Is He Listening?
Dear Is He Listening,
God recognizes the prayers of the faithful only. There is no doubt that God hears the prayers of christians (Jas 5:16). God hears the prayers of the righteous, but He is far from the wicked (Pr 15:29). God is constantly listening to hear the prayers of christians, but He sets His face against those who do evil. God says that even a christian who isn’t treating others well (specifically their spouse) will have their prayers hindered (1 Pet 3:7).
God does not answer the prayers of those who are ungodly. When Israel turned away from God, He stopped answering their prayers (Micah 3:4). When Judah became wicked and followed false teachings, He stopped hearing their prayers and accepting their worship (Isa 1:13-15). The same would hold true for those who fall away today. God will stop listening to and answering their prayers. It isn’t that He doesn’t hear them – He simply ignores their requests. Those outside of Christ are promised that if they seek God, they will find Him (Lk 11:9). All of mankind has the ability to ask for truth and find it, but only christians can ask God as a child asks a father (Mat 7:11). The ability to seek God’s help through prayer is a blessing given only to those who serve God (Jhn 9:31).
The Bible says we all must give an account before God. But it also says the blood of Jesus covers our sins, and God remembers them no more. If we are in Christ and do our best to be faithful and obedient, what is the account christians will give before God? What if the account we give is displeasing to God?
Don’t Judge Me
Dear Don’t Judge Me,
The verse that says we all must give account for ourselves before God is Rom 14:12, and it is in the context of explaining that brethren shouldn’t judge one another but leave the judgment up to God (Rom 14:10). The point of that verse isn’t that we all need to be able to eloquently speak to God on the Judgment Day; it is that we each are responsible for our own behavior and choices in life. You can’t get to heaven riding anyone else’s coattails.
If you are in Christ, then on the Judgment Day, your meeting with God will be a pleasant one – He has forgiven your sins and will tell you to enter into His joy (Matt 25:21).
Leviticus 19:28 said, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Why don't I hear too many churches preaching against putting tattoos on your body?
The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.
In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:
- Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
- People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of as ‘the weird tatted-up guy’?
- You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
- Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
- Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
- Many tattoos are of things that exude evil. Snakes, skulls, demonic signs, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. This is not a right or wrong issue, but simply one of wisdom. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.
Does prayer really work??? I pray for situations to change in my life, and they don't. I do the best I can to try to get ahead, but it seems like more frustrating things end up in my path. Furthermore, it seems as a slap in the face to my faith. I watch those around me who barely believe in God live fulfilling lives. What does God want me to do?
Up In Arms
Dear Up In Arms,
Prayers do work, but God still has veto power. We are told to pray that “if the Lord wills, we will do this or that” (Jas 4:15). Jesus taught His disciples to pray for the Lord’s will to be done (Matt 6:10). Part of prayer is that we need to learn to trust that God knows what He is doing. We are entreating the Creator of the Universe with our problems, and just like any loving father, our Heavenly Father sometimes says, “No” to our requests. As every parent knows, children sometimes ask for things that aren’t in their best interest, or they ask things unaware of the bigger picture. God wants to give us good gifts (Matt 7:11)… sometimes that means that He answers our prayers by giving us something different than what we expected.
Now, let’s talk about those prosperous unbelievers that you are seeing. Your frustration is valid, and David had the same frustration. In Psalm 73, David talked about his animosity toward the success of the ungodly… he said it made him so mad that he almost fell away from God (Ps 73:2). However, David finally concluded that the ungodly were not blessed because their entire existence was slippery and dependent upon their physical prosperity (Ps 73:18). Only God’s people have an eternal hope that gives us comfort regardless of how life goes here (Ps 73:27-28).
Is it a sin to play Blackjack if I am skilled enough to hold an edge over the house?
Dear High Roller,
The Bible never specifically mentions gambling as a sin, but it doesn’t have to be specifically mentioned to be wrong. There are a great many things surrounding gambling that are sinful. Consider that:
- Gambling focuses around money and greed. God warns us clearly about being fixated with money (1 Tim 6:10, Heb 13:5). God wants us to be satisfied with our income (Eccl 5:10). Contentment is a major component of spiritual maturity (1 Tim 6:6).
- Gambling is used as a means to gain money without working for it. God finds pleasure in people working for their livelihood (2 Thess 3:10-12, Pr 10:4).
- Gambling wastes money because, ultimately, the house does always win. God expects us to be good stewards (1 Cor 4:2) and save for the future (Pr 6:6-8).
- Gambling and the places where gambling occurs are often associated with other sinful things. There is a reason Las Vegas is called “Sin City”. That industry is not one that a christian should be supporting (2 Cor 6:16-17).
Gambling is addictive. We can only have one master (Lk 16:13).