Q. Do you think that the first prayer the Lord listens to is the prayer of salvation? The Bible says if we have iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us. So then would that mean the Lord does not hear the unbelievers prayers? Does that mean He does not hear the prayers of the Jewish people at the wailing wall? I guess He hears them, but does He answer them?
A. I don’t know whether the Lord hears whatever prayers unbelievers offer, but I don’t believe He answers them. In order to have any kind of relationship with the Lord, we have to be saved. In order to be saved we have to believe we’re sinners, that Jesus died for our sins, and that He rose again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4). In Ephesians 1:13-14 Paul said as soon as we believe that, we are included in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. Therefore I’m of the opinion that even if it’s only been for a minute or two, everyone who prays the “sinner’s prayer” is already a believer in his or her heart, because an unbeliever would not pray that prayer.
The Jewish people took themselves out of their covenant relationship with God when they rejected the Messiah. Therefore I don’t think He’s obligated to answer their prayers. In recent history, He has done remarkable things for them in an effort to persuade them to come back. But as He said in Ezekiel 36:22, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my Holy Name.” His effort on their behalf is not due to any merit or worthiness of theirs, but for the sake of keeping His promise to restore them.