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When people who don't believe in Jesus pray to God are their prayers 'in vain'?


Thank you for this great question about prayer. There are some teachings from Jesus in the Bible that will answer this question.

Firstly Jesus teaches his followers that they should pray to the Father:

"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name". (Matthew 6:6-9) [emphasis added]

Secondly Jesus teaches that no one comes to the Father except through Him:

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6)

Finally Jesus teaches that prayers should be asked in his name.

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it". (John 14:13-14)

This is why people will often close a prayer by saying words similar to "in the name of Jesus Christ".

The reason we need to pray to the Father through Jesus is that before we come to know God as our Father the Bible says that we are naturally enemies of God because of the wrong we have done against him. Our first true prayer then needs to be one of repentance like the one found on the main part of our website: A simple prayer

When we have accepted that Jesus died for our sins in our place and rose again to new life, then we can pray to God through Jesus. Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father.

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

If we do not know Jesus, we do not know the Father and therefore cannot pray to him with any assurance of God answering our prayers.

At the same time, though, we believe in an all present, all hearing God who can hear the prayers and thoughts of all people and in his infinite wisdom, mercy, justice and common grace, may answer the prayers of people who do not yet know Jesus.

In summary, prayer is speaking directly to God and we can get an assurance that our prayers are heard by God if we pray through Jesus. I encourage you to make your first serious prayer to God by asking Jesus to forgive the sin in your life and to ask for his help to live for him.

Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:

  • Matthew 6:6-9
  • John 14:6-14
  • Hebrews 7:25

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at

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