(Luke 18:13) "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'
Many people wonder about the right words to say when asking Jesus to come into their hearts and lives. Some say it is best to pray the sinner’s prayer. This is a prayer that you usually read or repeat phrase by phrase after the speaker at a church or evangelistic service, or perhaps one on one with a friend. It’s a helpful way to lead another person to Christ. It’s usually about a paragraph long but you can boil it down to . . . God, be merciful to me a sinner!
But what about if you never did say the sinner’s prayer? Well, don’t get hung up on the words because God knows your heart. As long as we have repented of our sins and have confessed Christ as our Savior then we know we are saved! (Rom 10:9-10) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
But did you know that the sinner’s prayer is for believers as well? That’s right, it is for believers today because even though we are saved, we still sin. And so, we can be like that man in the temple who couldn’t even look up into heaven and who felt so remorseful that all he could pray was . . . God be merciful to me a sinner.
You see, some justify their sin by comparing their lives with others. Like that other man in the temple who was telling God all his righteous deeds and then judging the poor sinner on the other side of the temple. But what does the Bible say about our own righteousness? (Isa 64:6) But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags . . . He wasn’t praying the sinner’s prayer. He was praying the hypocrite’s prayer!
After we pray the sinner’s prayer and ask the Lord to come into our lives we are saved and have eternal life. But we are going to sin along the way. (Isa 53:6) All we like sheep have gone astray . . . We’re going to blow it and feel like the sinner in the temple. But thanks be to God for His promise . . . If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Our sin humbles us, and that’s good. (James 4:10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. That spiritual pride goes when we identify with the man who said the first sinner’s prayer . . . God be merciful to me a sinner! That’s what I am. A sinner. But God loves me and has made provision for my sin through His Son Jesus Christ. He hears my prayer of confession and I am forgiven and cleansed and freed from guilt and condemnation. Hallelujah!!
I think the sinner’s prayer is going to be around awhile . . . how about you?