I must have prayed “The Sinner’s Prayer” twenty times growing up. I was always so afraid I’d missed something, paranoid I’d somehow nullified my salvation since the last time I said the magic words. And do you know what I finally understand now, a full thirty years after the first time I prayed? There is nothing magical about it.
The words I pray are not what saves me. Jesus saves me.
My response is to repent of my sins and believe He saves me (Mark 1:15).
Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is beautiful and true, yet it’s easy to see how we misconstrue these words to make them about us. We tend to focus on the words we said, the place we knelt, the specific date we were “born again.” We tend to make our coming to Christ about our circumstances rather than our Savior.
True story: I used to worry my salvation wasn’t real because I did not know my spiritual birthdate.
I wonder what Jesus would say to my teenage self, dutifully walking forward at each youth rally, giving myself over and over, desperate to make that prayer stick? I wonder if it saddened Him to watch as I refused to fully believe the promises He’s made to me, the ones forever sealed when He hung on the Cross and walked out of the tomb?
The apostle Paul got it. He wrote in Galatians 2:20-21, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (For a powerful paraphrase of this passage, see Galatians 2:19-21 MSG.)
It was never about the where or how or with what words I came to Christ.
It was never about what I was doing. It was always about what He did.
The grace of Christ is ours today. The Savior who died for us, lives for us, reconciles us to the Father— His grace is ours even now. We need only to repent and believe.
And yes, even the repenting and believing require His grace! Like the father in Mark 9:24, we cry out, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” We trust one moment and doubt the next, standing tall on the rock today and tossed by the waves tomorrow. We are frail and we are strong; we are sure and we despair.
Sisters, we need Jesus. The depth of our need is vast as the sea, but He is not surprised by this. He knows us fully and He loves us still (Ps. 139, Gal. 2:20). When we come to Him for the first time or the hundredth, He rejoices to take us in. Like the father of the prodigal, He sees us coming a long way offand plans a party, jumps up and down, all but does cartwheels that we’ve come home (Luke 15:11-32).
If you long to come to Him today, don’t worry about the circumstances. In the words of the hymn writer Joseph Hart, “If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.” Come as you are — come today — and bare your soul. Cry out like David cried out in Psalm 51, honestly and openly before the God who made you and promises to make you new (2 Cor. 5:17), who loves you and stands ready to save.
Come broken and weary.
Come confused and hopeful.
Come repentant and needy.
Come believing in the midst of your doubt.
Then come back day after day. Walk every day in that same grace you first received.
After all, it has never been about saving yourself. It is always and only about His saving grace.