So, you have just prayed “The Prayer” at church, with someone on TV, or all by yourself. What now?
First, I should first clarify what “The Prayer” is. When I first started my walk with Jesus, I really wanted to get things right…so I went to Scripture to find out what “The Prayer” should say. You know what I found… NOTHING! There is nothing in the Bible about praying a specific salvation prayer. NOTHING! That doesn’t mean that praying a “salvation prayer” is wrong… or useless. It does mean that what is in your heart is a whole lot more important than the specific words that are prayed. It is NOT a magic formula. It is NOT fire insurance. It is, however, the beginning of a relationship … the beginning of a new life. It is important to pray “The Prayer” … using words that express what is in your heart… and it is important to tell someone.
So, I want to talk a little about what may have been in your heart when YOU prayed.
“Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross for me. I know I am a sinner. I need You. Please come live in my heart… cleanse me… make me new. I will follow You all my life.
This is a “more traditional” prayer… and God throws a party in heaven every time someone turns to Him. You know Jesus died for sin … your sin … and that you need forgiveness. That is a great start… and an important start… but it doesn’t end there. It is just a beginning.
“God, I’ve made a mess of my life. If you are real, please help me. I give You my life… You are my only hope. Please make something of my life, if it’s not too late, if you will still take me!”
God loves this prayer, too… it’s party time in heaven. All of heaven rejoices when someone comes to Him. He knows that, when left to ourselves, we all make a mess of our lives … even those that look all put together. That is why Jesus came to earth. We cannot do it on our own. We need Him. And He can take mistakes and messes and turns them into messages… of His forgiveness and love.
God has definitely heard your prayer, but you really have no idea of what is happening now … how that prayer will actually make an eternal difference for you.
Let’s backup a bit to understand what your situation was BEFORE you prayed.
When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, and God told them they could eat any fruit in the Garden — except from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were told they would die if they ate that fruit. But Adam and Eve didn’t die. Adam lived over 900 years! Was God lying? No! Their bodies and souls lived on… but their spirits died. And with their dead spirits, they could no longer have a relationship with God. He is a Spirit… and theirs was D-E-A-D! And because of that, all mankind has inherited a dead spirit.
When Jesus was on earth, He told Nicodemus “You must be born again.” (John 3:7) Jesus coined the term “born again”… not the church.
What does BORN AGAIN really mean?
I remember years ago taking a computer networking class. The technology was kind of new (especially to me), and there were pages of new terms, protocols, and standards. The teacher said that the class was like “trying to take a drink out of a fire hose” … too much to take in at one time. And he was absolutely right! That is what totally understanding being born again is! Too much to take in at once. We will spend a lifetime … maybe even eternity … learning what being a born-again child of God means… but everyone starts somewhere… right?!?
We are a new creation.
Now that our spirits have been touched by the Holy Spirit, they are now alive. Holy Spirit lives inside us. The earth is inhabited by lots of creatures … plants, animals, birds, fish, and people. These have life…. but none have God’s Spirit dwelling in them … except those of us who have asked Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, to come live in us. None can have an eternal relationship with God. Just us!
We are God’s children.
We are no longer just created beings. We have been restored into God’s family … He’s adopted us! That means we have an inheritance… a new family identity … a new family name … we belong!
Our sins are gone.
They are not just ignored… until later when we have to “pay the piper”. Jesus took all of our sins … past, present, and future sins … and paid the price for all of them. They are not just covered… they have been eradicated. We have been justified. What does that mean? It means “Just as if I’d never sinned.” Wow!
God’s not mad at us.
All the punishment that was due to us … Jesus took. All God’s anger was poured out on Jesus. ALL OF IT! God no longer sees all of our failures … He sees us washed clean … totally loved … totally clean … being made whole … looking more and more like Jesus every day!
You need to tell someone.
Is this necessary for your salvation? No. This does not save you, but there are several reasons to share the Good News of what has happened to you … and there is power in our words. Jesus said, in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, that everyone who acknowledges Him before men, He will acknowledge them before the Father and the angels in heaven. Jesus says “that one is Mine. I died for him.” I really like standing with Jesus…. Being on His team! Another reason … a very important reason … is that others need Jesus, too. One way we tell others … declare our faith … is by being baptized. Baptism is a sacrament … “an outward sign of an inward grace.” Our old man is “buried” when we go under the water, and our new man “rises” to new life when we come out.
We can’t change ourselves.
In Galatians 2:20 we are told, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Our old self is dead…. It cannot “learn” to be good. It cannot clean up its act. The Holy Spirit begins to change us from the inside out. One of my favorite bible promises is found in Philippians 1:6. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
To be continued tomorrow …
God, I need You.
Thank you for the new life which you’ve given me.
Thank you, Jesus, for paying for my sins.
Holy Spirit, thank you for always being with me…
and for Your promise to never leave.
Teach me about the new life you’ve given me.
Change me from the inside out.
I trust You, Lord.