A Better Starting Point
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:4
As long as I can remember, it has been an implied teaching that the starting point for a sinner who wants to turn to Christ is “the sinner’s prayer.” I prayed it for the first time when I was 16. Afterwards, I prayed it well over a hundred more times. I guess I was just waiting for one to “take” because there was no real change in my life for several years.
I don’t believe the “sinner’s prayer” started as a bad thing at all, but somehow it seems to have become the primary evidence of salvation. Preachers simply try to get people to say it, and then post the number of “salvations” online. The only problem I see with this (and I have done it) is the product it has produced over the past few decades. I am astounded at the people who genuinely believe they are saved because they said “the sinner’s prayer” at some point in their lives. I was in this group for quite a while. For years, I had my trust in the fact that I had “said the prayer for forgiveness.” Just in case that didn’t work, I would also ask for forgiveness nearly every night before I went to sleep.
Upon the realization that my life was headed to Hell, I offered up a different prayer. I said, “Lord, my life is now yours. I know I’m not living for You. Help me learn to really live for You. I will read Your Word, learn it, and obey it to the best of my ability. Please help me.” Slowly, methodically, and surely I began to grow into a brand new life. There was nothing like it. It was very difficult, mainly because it ran directly against the traffic of the world, but it was wonderful and I knew in my heart it was right.
I say all that to say this: I believe there is a better prayer to start the real deal Christian life. Not that anybody can place his or her trust in any prayer, for our hope is not in a prayer, but in Christ alone. Having said that, a person who wants to come to Christ must first contemplate a few questions.
1. Do you desire daily to be in God’s Presence?
2. Do you desire to read and learn His Word as written in the Holy Bible?
3. Do you desire to obey His Word regardless of the cost to you?
If they answer is an honest “yes” to these questions, I would venture to say that you are more than likely assured of your salvation. If the answer is “no,” then you do need not say a “sinner’s prayer,” you are “poor in spirit” and need to cry out for some serious help. Something along these lines:
“Lord, I do not desire You, but I want to. The truth is, I can go days, weeks, and even months without even thinking about You. I don’t desire Your Holy Word, but I want to. Up until now, I haven’t cared anything about reading the Bible. It seems very difficult to read and understand. I live my life exactly as I want, hoping You will just forgive me at the end of it all. I recognize that I am poor in spirit for I want very little to do with You and Your ways. Quicken my spirit. Make my spirit truly alive so I may live. Grant me access to the kingdom of heaven and give me life. Change my desires Lord that I may truly live for You and be a light in this dark world. Amen.
Honestly, I still pray parts of this prayer sometimes. If I ever feel like I am picking up my Bible or studying it simply out of religious duty, I pray this. If a person does not have a desire in their heart to know God, they are poor in spirit. God must intervene on his or her behalf. I never ever want to simply go through the motions. I want Jesus. I desire to be as close to Him as possible.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.– 2 Corinthians 5:17