I was asked this question. “If God exists, and can hear prayers and act on them, how do you explain the terrible things that happen to people? How does prayer work then? Does God listen and act? How does He choose who is deserving of His actions and who gets murdered?”
Let me take some of your time and explain this. Every person is responsible for their own words and actions. God has given each one of us free will to choose between doing what is good or what is evil. But the vast majority of this world decides to do what is evil and hurt others in unending ways. That is why there are so many terrible things happening to both the innocent and the guilty.
God has given each one of us a moral compass called a conscience. He has written His Law upon our hearts to guide us in the right way to act and how we should treat one another. As a matter of fact, conscience means “with knowledge.” In this way, we know the difference between right and wrong. So there is no excuse for us when we do evil to one another instead of good.
God has said, “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. Ezekiel 18:20
It is not God who chooses who gets hurt or goes unscathed. He does not direct some to murder or to stay their hand. We all make our own choices. Mankind is the one who chooses to lie, kill, rape, murder, cause violence, spread hate and division, slander, swindle, and commit all kinds of horrible crimes against humanity. They are all crimes committed against man, God, and His Law that He has established for us to obey. With crime, there is always a penalty.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
If we would just obey His commands and do what is right there would be no need for punishment. But we all do sin, breaking His Laws and civil law. Just like the criminal who breaks civil law, when they are brought before the judge, with evidence of their crimes, they will be sentenced accordingly. Some will endure minor punishment and others who commit more crimes or more heinous crimes will be punished severely. Maybe even losing their very lives.
And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him, much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. Luke 12:47-48
When it comes to prayer, God only replies to those who have humbled themselves before Him and repented of their sins. To those who have believed in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for the forgiveness of sins.
In this way, He paid the debt they owed God. He now sees them as righteous because Jesus took their place. They are in a right relationship with God and worthy of making requests of the Father, to be heard. So if you humble yourself and cry out to Him for forgiveness, He will hear and forgive.
Surely He(Jesus) has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds, we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone—to His own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isiah 53:4-6
He does not listen to the prayers of the wicked. Because they come with a self-serving agenda to have their own way. They are proud, arrogant, and sinful. God does not hear them and is actually against them because of their ways.
We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, God listens to him. John 9:31
Turn from your sins today, repent, and believe in Jesus Christ by faith and not by sight. If you humble yourself from your pride and turn from your sins, He will listen and hear your prayers. He will take your shame and sin away, giving you a new heart, and mind. He will place His righteousness upon you.
You will no longer want to do the evil things that hurt people in this world. But you will desire to do good and build up treasures in Heaven by doing God’s will. Most importantly by doing this, instead of God putting you in His torturous jail called Hell when you die, He will grant you everlasting life in Heaven. He will reward you for following and obeying His commands. He will hear your prays from Heaven and answer. So what will you do?
God says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14