That time I had to google the sinners prayer!
At 2:00 a.m. the phone rang. I jumped up and answered it.
“Hello,” I said in my sleepy voice.
“Lindsay, Jesus is real; I found evidence!”
I suddenly sat up. It was Dave, a dear friend of mine from back in my “before Jesus” days.
“Lindsay, I am serious; Jesus is real,” he exclaimed.
I thought to myself, “I know, and I can’t believe you know!”
Before I was a Christian, Dave and I had lived similar lives—what one might call crazy, with one self destructive, self-inflicted disaster after another.
However, this particular night, Dave began to share his “findings.” He was convinced of the reality of Jesus. I stared out the window in pure amazement and total shock of God.
Two hours later, Dave asked me to help him know Jesus like I did.
The truth was, I had no idea how to “make that happen.” I mean, I have often heard people say things like,“I led him to Christ,”but in this moment, all I could think was, how? How do I tell a 36-year-old, very intellectual man to “ask Jesus into his heart?”Let’s be honest, it kind of sounds absurd.
In the moment, my heart was racing; I grabbed my computer and frantically typed “Sinner’s Prayer” into Google.I tried to act normal, but then Dave said, “Lindsay, will you pray for me?” I looked up to God and mouthed the words “help me,” then I started to pray, asking God to further reveal Himself to Dave.
Did I chicken out; did I screw up? I didn’t pray the “Sinner’s Prayer.”
My story of coming to know Jesus was a journey that really started unfolding when I was 29. I had always thought of Jesus as a really nice character in a fairytale, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I mean, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are really marvelous, and the truth of the matter was, I thought the same thing about Jesus.He was marvelous, but he was indeed made up.
So I was shocked, as one Sunday morning I sat in the back of a mega church in Atlanta, listening to a pastor talk about our faith being built on a person who lived 2,000 years ago in history. I suddenly thought, “Jesus was real?”
I had no idea.
A year after I had prayed for David, he called again, asking why Jesus mattered so much. While he had found historical evidence of this truth, he still struggled to understand the connection between the Christian faith and Jesus.
The conversation ended up in a similar place as it did a year earlier. How do I explain that a prayer gets you into heaven? It sounds crazy. I knew it was more than a prayer, but I was having trouble “explaining it.”
The next night, Dave called me again. He was crying rather hard. He was telling me a story about when he realized God had indeed saved his life. But still, something was missing. After three hours on the phone, I had explained God, Jesus, and salvation in every way I knew how. I was literally on my knees at times begging God to speak through me. I was at a loss.
I felt stupid bringing up “the prayer” again even though I knew it had significance. I was having trouble with the explanation on why it mattered myself.He wasn’t buying it, and honestly, I wasn’t sure I was either.
I had now spent 10 hours on the phone with my friend over 3 days, telling him all I knew about the Bible. At one point I started to weep, realizing God taught me this for me but also for the exact moment I found myself in, sharing it with Dave. I was overwhelmed by God’s providence.
It wasn’t until I came across this section of scripture in the Message version of the Bible that I realized something.
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. (Roman 8:9-11 MSG)
It was this passage of scripture God used to remind me that until Dave had the Holy Spirit in him, he would not fully understand what I was trying to tell him, and that was the significance of the prayer, of praying to receive the Lord into his life.
That evening, I was listening to a podcast where at the end the teacher gave a simple prayer (yes, it was a verison of the sinner’s prayer). I got out my phone, and I texted it to Dave saying, “I thought I would give you this prayer to pray.” The next morning I received a text back from Dave saying, “I said just that in a sincere manner and feel like I am giving orders to our pal, Jesus.”
I then said, “I know it feels dumb and insignificant, but it is an admission of belief. It is the beginning of your walk with Jesus. The rest of your life is a journey with Him.”
I wanted it to be obvious. I wanted to say, “I led my friend, Dave, to the Lord,” but it took 3 years and a lot of divine appointments for me to finally come to more of a true understanding of my salvation. I believe that for my friend as well!
God’s ways and God’s timing are perfect, and I know God is working!