I did something strange two weeks ago. I met a guy who said to me, “I want to pray the sinner’s prayer”. And I proceeded to try to talk him out of it. My first response was something like, “let me tell you some reasons why that is a bad idea.”
I know I have some ‘splainin’ to do.
Here’s what happened: I could tell that this individual was in the middle of some type of crisis. I assumed that something had gone wrong in his life and He wanted God to make it better for him. I have seen it a hundred times – a guy gets into trouble or loses his job or gets a bad diagnosis. And he wants to come to God only to get bailed out. Honestly, I have seen too many people who come to Christ in times of crisis only to abandon Christ as soon as the problem is averted.
So I asked the guy, “What’s the problem that brings you to Jesus?” He told me that his wife had left him and he wanted her back. I explained that giving his heart to Christ probably would not fix his problem. I asked him what he would do if she didn’t come back – or even if she did come back. I asked if he intended to use Jesus to get her back. Was he trying to barter with God? After some very direct questions, he assured me that he intended to live for Christ the rest of his life regardless of what happened with his wife.
I was convinced. The guy prayed the prayer and I believe, gave his heart to the Lord. I haven’t seen him or spoken to him since.
My friend, Reese Hendricks reminded me today that this is a similar situation to what Jesus did with the rich young ruler. Only the results were different. Jesus got to the heart of the issue and this man’s motives were not pure. So he walked away from Jesus.
I just wanted to be sure with this guy. I don’t know what I would have done if it had turned out differently. I am glad it went the way it did.