The Sinner's Prayer
God does not hear the alien sinner. John 9:31 "We know that God heareth not sinners (This word "sinners" is from the Greek word "hamartolos" and means "Preeminently sinful, especially wicked" also "those who are out of covenant relation with God; aliens."): but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth." The word "heareth" appears twice in this passage and comes from the Greek word "akouo" which means "to listen to; have regard to; of God answering the prayers of men." J. H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, page 23, 2nd column.
Certainly God is "capable" of hearing everyone who prays, but He hasn't promised to do so. He is also "capable" of saving sinners without baptism, but He cannot contradict His own law. "Those who are out of covenant relation with God," will not have their prayers heard or answered. God turns away His ear from such. The alien sinner has no mediator. He has no right to approach the Father's throne of grace, for he is a son of Satan until regeneration. And there is no promise that God will hear him.
God recognizes only two classes of accountable men: the righteous and the wicked. Read the parable in Matthew 13:47-50. He will hear the just but He will not hear the prayer of the wicked. Proverbs 15:8, "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to Jehovah; but the prayer of the upright is his delight." Proverbs 15:28, "Jehovah is far from the wicked; but he heareth the prayer of the righteous." 1 Peter 3:12, "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, And his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." James 5:16, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." God hears those who keep His commandments and do the things pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." Christ said: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." There is no promise that He will hear the petition of those outside of Him.
Cornelius is often given to prove that God hears the alien sinner. But note carefully, Cornelius' prayers were put in the same class with his alms. (Acts 10:4.) And the fact is, his prayers had no more to do with his salvation than his alms did. God heard his prayer, as an exception to the rule, to prove to the Jews that the Gentiles were being accepted into the fold. The fact that God heard his prayer only adds weight to the miracle of the Gentiles' conversion. There were at least four miraculous occurrences on this occasion. (1) The fact that 'God heard an alien sinner. (2) The fact that he had a vision and saw an angel. (3) The fact that Peter saw a vision and heard a voice. (4) The fact that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the household of Cornelius, as an exception to the rule. I maintain that none of the four occurrences takes place in our generation. The age of miracles has ceased. The Bible doesn't tell what Cornelius was praying for. It is only an assumption to say that he was praying for salvation or that he was praying for further light.
Saul is also given as proof that God hears an alien's prayer. But the scriptures do not tell what Saul was praying for, neither does it say that God heard his prayer. The record of Saul's conversion proves conclusively that prayer had nothing to do with his salvation. On the Damascus road the Lord told him to go into the city and there it would be told him what he must do. Three days later the Lord's promise was fulfilled. He sent Ananias to Saul, and Ananias told him what to do. The prayer during the three days had nothing to do with Saul's conversion. One might as well argue that Saul's fasting for the three days had a part in his salvation. The truth is, neither the praying nor the fasting was connected with his salvation. When God saw fit to send Ananias, as He had previously promised to do, Saul was told what to do. He was told: "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16.) Saul, like so many of our friends today, had the procedure in reverse. He was trying to call on the Lord before baptism.