Does God always hear people’s prayers, or do some pray in vain thinking that God hears them, when in reality He chooses to turn a deaf hear to their cries? Some may perhaps have a notion that all prayers are worthy, and God being who He is is by nature willing to listen and hear their prayers delightfully. They entertain the notion that it is their birth right for God to listen to their prayers and answer them accordingly. Also, there are some who come before the presence of the Lord with severe doubts, defeated by the devils whisper that they are such an unworthy soul that for them to lift up their cries to the Lord is an abomination. They are mute by their own wickedness, depressed and thus fail to pray.
What does the scripture say about God turning a deaf hear to prayers? It is to be said that God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer as He sees fit. He is altogether happy and never backed into a corner, God always does whatever He pleases for He is free to do as He wills.
Many scripture passages speak on this issue and here I will highlight a few passages and at the end give you more passages in which you can search for yourself. The text highlighted are not in need of exegesis for they are clear and simple. The first of these passages is found in Deuteronomy 1:45 ‘You came back and wept before the LORD, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf hear to you’. The reason in this passage why God turned a deaf hear on the Israelites was because they rebelled against God. God told them not to go and fight against the Amorites but they did not listen to God and thus they were defeated. So when they came to weep before God, he paid no attention to their cries.
Psalm 66:18 - ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear’.
John 9:31- ‘Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does his will, He hears them.' We know that God does hear the prayers of sinners, that is sinners who are humble.
Malachi 1:7-9 - ‘You offer defiled food on my altar. But you say, ‘how have we defiled you?’ ‘By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that now wrong? Try offering them to the governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you? says the LORD of hosts. And now entreat the favour of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favour to any of you? says the LORD of hosts.'
Proverbs 28:9 - ‘One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination to the LORD.' Notice that the prayer is an abomination. This is strong language. God hates it.
Psalm 18:40-41 - ‘You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them - to the LORD, but he did not answer.' God decided not to hear the prayers of the Psalmist enemies. He decided to answer the Psalmist prayers, that is to hear them, to favour him. But he answered not the prayers of his enemies.
James 1:6-7 - ‘But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let no man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord’.
Isaiah 59:1-2 - 'Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.'
The passages above have shown that God does not hear the prayers of those who regard iniquity in their hearts, those who remain in sin, those who offer unworthy service to God, those who turn away from God’s law, who worship idols, who mistreats God’s people , who doubts and etc.
It is clear that God does not always listen to prayers and if you find yourself in any of those camps, it is wise for you to examine your soul and repent. To come to God for mercy asking for the forgiveness of your sins and trusting in Jesus alone, trusting in His works and righteousness. When you trust in Jesus and believe in His name, God always hears your prayers, because all of your sins are pardoned and when we confess our sins, He is just and faithful to forgive us of all of our abominations. God will sweetly hear the prayers of His saints and of those who are penitent at heart. But to those who are violent, rebels and haters of God, God will not hear them, infact their prayers are an abomination to him. He will only hear them if they are willing to repent and change their ways.
Of course God can hear everything. He knows what is in our hearts and hears every idle words we say. By him not listening to prayers, I mean God actively choosing to ignore your prayers or to look upon it with indignation and and consider it an abominable thing.
Other passages you may look at:
Jer 14:10-12 Prov 1:25-28 prov 28:9 Isa 1:15 Jer 11:11 eze 8:15-18 Luke 18:11-14 Micah 3:2-4 Job 27:9 Psalm 78:34 Heb 12:17.