How can you be confident God will listen and reply to your prayer? The answer is simply to pray a certain prayer that God ALWAYS answers. Here it is. Simply pray, "Dear God, please show me that I am a sinner!"
Even if you have doubts about God’s existence, if you pray this prayer sincerely wanting an answer, I believe God will answer you, and you will know it is an answer from God.
But be careful, because the answer will shake you to your core.
"God answers the sinner’s prayer because he wants a relationship with the sinner — you."
Whereas even if you have not had up until now a personal relationship with God, you have probably been told you have faults, but basically you have ignored them or rationalized them away as "errors in judgment," or "traits of human nature," or "innocent lack of knowledge" and the like.
This time will be different
Although I cannot predict how God will enlighten you to the fact that you are a sinner, when the answer comes, and come it will if you pray the prayer sincerely, the realization you sin will be like a stab of searing pain into your heart.
To pick an example: Even if you fake a halfhearted dismissal to your spouse when she says you are "too materialistic" as you pine for a new car you cannot afford, when God shows you that you are in fact not just "materialistic," but "covetous" and covetousness is a sin and you are a sinner, you will come face to face with something you have never understood about yourself before.
When this happens, you will realize, deep inside, that a supreme being exists who heard your prayer and for an instant involved himself personally, in your own life, to answer your prayer and show you something you could not otherwise see.
You will believe that you prayed to God, and that he exists, and that he expressed himself personally to you in answer to your prayer. And you will be right.
What happens next?
But, if you are to get more answers to more prayers, there is another step. The first step is to pray the prayer and get the answer. The second step is to act on the answer. For, unless you act on the answer, you were not really sincere, were you?
You see, God is not to be toyed with. He does not answer prayer just to take a dare that he is there or not. He answers the sinner’s prayer because (amazingly) he wants a relationship with the sinner — you — but your sins and spiritual blindness are preventing it.
He understands that humans are sinners and that sin cuts us off from him and that all of this is a vicious circle of sorts. He wants to break through the circle of sin and unanswered prayer. To do this, though, you must cooperate. He will pass the "test prayer." But now you must pass the test of what to do with your newfound knowledge by taking the second step.
What is this second step? The second step was explained by Peter on the day of Pentecost to a whole group of people who learned they were sinners and asked, in effect, "What are we to do?" Peter said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
This second step is really a process, and is what the whole Christian life is about—coming to see you need the Savior. It takes one’s entire life to fully work out what this all means. And, it ultimately means a lot more prayers, more "second steps," and more articles and a lot more explanations that cannot be made here.
But all this starts with a simple prayer that God always hears and answers. Indeed, he wants to hear it, and answer it. It is this: "God, show me my sins."
And this, dear fellow humans, is what we poor sinners "are to do."
Bernie Schnippert is an ordained minister, attorney and General Counsel for Grace Communion International. He lives with his wife, Arlene, in Bend, Oregon.