If we are in a state of mortal sin, does God still hear our prayers? Does He answer them? Or are they ineffective because our soul is essentially dead?
Recently on The Patrick Madrid Show, Chris called in to ask Patrick this very question. “I just have two questions concerning a person who is in mortal sin. If the individual in mortal sin decides to fervently pray, let’s say for the health of another family member, or for anything whatsoever, would his prayer still be heard and considered as valid by God as a person who is not in mortal sin?”
Patrick asked if Chris meant a person who was not repentant for their mortal sins and was choosing not to reenter the state of grace or offer a prayer of repentance. Chris replied, saying that he was referring to a scenario in which the person was unaware that they were in the state of mortal sin. They perhaps didn’t know that what they had done was morally wrong and were simply trying to say a prayer for a loved one.
Patrick decided to split the answer into multiple parts. For the first part, he proposed a situation where the person in question was intentionally non-repentant and a conscious and willing participant in chronic, mortal sins. “I would say, based upon scripture, that God would not hear those prayers, would not listen to the prayers. God listens to the prayers of those who are repentant.”
If that same man were to feel remorse for his sins and resolve to seek forgiveness as soon as possible, then yes, God would certainly listen to those prayers. Patrick clarified, saying that God hears, sees, and knows all, so he “hears” all prayers, but if the soul of someone is steeped in mortal sin with no intention of becoming cleansed, then he will not heed those petitions. At that point, the person in question is attempting to use God. According to the Gospel, Jesus affirmed this when the blind man who was healed said, “‘We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.’” (John 9:31)
Chris then asked if the non-repentant sinner were to eventually seek forgiveness down the line, would God be able to retroactively hear their prayers and answer them? Patrick responded that God is outside of time. There is no past nor future, everything is “now” in God’s eternal plane. So yes, God could theoretically hear and grant the prayers of that person.
If someone does not repent of their serious and grave offenses, they are saying that they do not trust and believe in divine law. If they do not believe in the laws set down by God, then they are insincerely appealing to God’s power to grant petitions. Therefore, God will not heed those prayers.
Chris followed, “Let’s say a person in mortal sin, for example, decides to give to the poor. Those acts would not in any way be counted by God. Would I be correct in that?” Patrick quantified his statements, saying that only God knows the entire situation and its circumstances, so only God will ultimately pass judgment on the validity of such acts or prayers. But as a general rule, Patrick says it’s safe to say that while a person is in the state of mortal sin, there is no supernatural merit gained from acts of goodness. They can have merit on a natural basis, and even affect others in a good way, but they are not “salvific” acts.
As we journey through this Advent, a time of preparation for Christ’s arrival, let us make sure we are preparing our souls as well as our bodies so that we can receive Him well.
Listen to the full conversation below:
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