Cornelius and Prayer


      Introduction: When a serious discussion of prayer is experienced, Cornelius generally is introduced.  The point of introducing Cornelius is usually to teach that God hears and answers in a general way the prayers of all people.  Cornelius was an outstanding man and a scripturally significant Gentile (through him the door of faith to the Gentiles was opened, Acts 10 –14: 27). We read of Cornelius in Acts chapter ten and eleven. We are told Cornelius "prayed to God always" (Acts 10: 2). We are also told God heard Cornelius’ prayers (10: 31).

I. Cornelius was lost

  A. Cornelius was very religious, but he was not saved (10: 2, 11: 14).

  B. Cornelius had to hear the gospel and obey it in order to become saved (11: 14, 10: 34-48).

   a. Notwithstanding, God "heard" Cornelius’ prayers before he was saved!

II. Prayer is a blessing which belongs to God’s faithful children

  A. The scriptures are replete with teaching regarding answered prayer belonging to the faithful, obedient children of God (Prov. 28: 9, Jn. 9: 31, I Jn. 3: 22).

  B. How, then, do we reconcile God hearing Cornelius' prayer with such verses as I John 3: 22 which says, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight"?

III. God heard Cornelius’ prayers ("come up as a memorial before God," 10: 4) in that God providentially arranged for Cornelius to hear the gospel and learn how to become saved (Acts 10: 5-48)

  A. Jesus promised, "Seek, and ye shall find…" and "if any man will ("willeth," ASV) to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine…" (Matt. 7: 7, Jn. 7: 17).

  B. In a broad sense, God hears all prayers.

   a. If not, how can the prayer of Proverbs 28: 9 be an abomination to God?

     Conclusion: Prayer which God hears and, in general, answers belongs to the faithful child of God (I Pet. 3: 12). The case of Cornelius does not negate or contradict all the plain teaching found throughout the Bible on this subject!