September 3, 2015

Sinner’s Prayer

Written by Tripp Prince

Sinner’s Prayer 9.3

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 3, 2015

Guest Writer: Meet my son-in-law Tripp Prince. We are blessed to have him as our guest writer.

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Luke 18:10-13 

Growing up I remember the frequent encouragement given to pray the “sinner’s prayer”. In the culture of my childhood church this prayer was the entryway to life in Christ, the beginning of conversion in which one turns away from sin and death and turns toward new life in Christ. This prayer was an important and central element of discipleship, yet it was always prayed and then left behind. Once you had prayed the prayer and were “saved”, you were then free to move beyond this prayer into the “advanced” parts of the Christian life. This prayer was a one-time prayer that became part of my faith journey, albeit an increasingly distant one. Perhaps you can relate.

As I reflect on this experience, I wonder if we missed something central. What if the sinner’s prayer wasn’t meant to be prayed once and then promptly forgotten, but was instead meant to be the daily heart cry of every Christ follower? Our ability to genuinely join our hearts in prayer with the tax collector is not a sign of spiritual weakness or immaturity, but is instead a sign of spiritual growth and health!

From our first cry to our final breath, we are always sinners in need of God’s mercy. This is true of each of us, regardless of how many bible studies we have attended, how frequent our church attendance, or how faithfully we serve the poor and needy. We must take Jesus’ words from Luke 18 to heart and never believe that we have reached a state of spiritual superiority or exclusivity. The prayer of the tax collector should always be close to our hearts and upon our lips.

Today, may the sinner’s prayer be our prayer. May we remember that we are always broken and needy people who must continually return to the source of mercy and forgiveness. God’s goodness and love have no end. May we likewise never grow tired of coming to him in our brokenness, saying “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Prayer: Father, keep us ever mindful of your holiness and majesty, that we may never think too highly of ourselves but may instead come to you as sinners in need of healing and mercy.

Related Readings: Psalm 31:1-2; Psalm 51:1; 1 Cor. 1:18; Jude 21

Post/Tweet this today: We are broken and needy people who must continually return to the source of mercy and forgiveness—Jesus. #sinnersprayer #wisdomhunters

Additional Resource: 4 minute music video- Casting Crowns: You Are the Only One

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  1. David K Campbell says:

    Well said! When we read the scriptures as they are, we find something a little different than religion in a canned formula. Instead, we find relationship with God requires humility and the willingness to do what it takes right now to please God, bearing the fruit of the Spirit as we are filled with the Spirit continually, as we are charged to do.

    1. Gwynne says:

      Thank you David! We appreciate your clear and much needed reminder that a relationship with God does require humility and willingness to do what it takes to please God, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
      Beautifully said.
      Grateful for you,

  2. David K Campbell says:

    We are saved by faith, not by works, and we are never justified by our works. But faith without works is dead. We are once justified, but true Christianity also holds on to the end, and strives to please the Master to the end.

    1. Gwynne says:

      Thank you David, once again, clearly and beautifully stated. Powerful reminder: “But faith without works is dead”. We are grateful for your input and look forward to hearing from you more. Thank you for being a fellow wisdom hunter.
      “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, it is dead.”
      James 2: 17

  3. David K Campbell says:

    We are saved once, justified once by faith in Christ Jesus. We cannot earn our way to heaven, because all our good works are as filthy rags to God. Nevertheless, faith without works is dead. Those who really turned from sin to Christ hold on to the end, because they were really saved once in the first place. Yet we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit continually to bear the Fruits of the Spirit. The Fruits of the Flesh let us know we are far from God’s grace, and need it badly. Confession and forgiveness are still needed in relationships.

    1. Gwynne says:

      Dear David,
      Thank you, once again, for sharing your wise thoughts with us. We appreciate your discerning
      words and you are so right, we DO “need to be filled with the Holy Spirit continually to bear the Fruits of the Spirit”!
      We look forward to hearing from you again David. Blessings to you and yours.
      “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
      The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: surely I have a delightful inheritance.”
      Psalm 16:5-6

  4. Denise Tolton says:

    I am blessed by your devotionals. But today I see a troubling red flag. Those who have been redeemed through Jesus Christ have a new identity. God does not call His born again children “sinners.” He calls those redeemed by grace through faith “saints.” Paul’s letters are addressed to “the saints” and believers are referred to as saints. Our old ID, BC was “sinner ” but now our new ID, AD is “saint” because of the righteousness of Christ bestowed to us by God’s grace. In God’s eyes we are holy, and blameless and we are expected to live like it. By the power of our resident Sovereign, God’s Spirit, we are equipped to be saints. Isn’t it easier for us to sin if we proclaim to others we are a sinner than to sin if we proclaim God says we are His saints? Jesus teaches us in John 13 all His disciples need a daily foot washing. We collect dirt as we walk in a broken world. May we humbly come before Him, confess our sins, repent, be cleaned and walk worthy of the name He has given us…saint.

    1. Gwynne says:

      Dear Denise,
      Thank you for your very thought provoking comments regarding “sinners or saints”. You made some solid points and I agree with you, “We collect dirt as we walk in a broken world” and we do need a “daily foot washing”. However, aren’t we all sinners?
      As Tripp stated in his devotional, “Sinner’s Prayer”, “May we remember that we are always broken and needy people who must continually return to the source of mercy and forgiveness.”
      Again, I thank you for your sincere and thought provoking comments. Your thoughts as well as Tripp’s devotional, lead those of us in the Wisdom Hunter’s family to dig deep into the Word. As I re-read Luke 18: 9-14, I was enlightened by the tax collector’s prayer, and this time, took it a bit more personally!
      Grateful for you, Denise, and look forward to hearing from you again.
      “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
      Luke 18:14

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