On the Reformed Pinoy Facebook group, there’s an interesting discussion about the “Sinner’s Prayer” (from CCC’s Four Spiritual Laws):
Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
This prayer is not a prayer of a sinner asking God for mercy, as the contrite tax collector pleaded, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). It’s actually a prayer of thanks for the benefits he is receiving from God, almost sounding like the opening words of the Pharisee’s prayer, “God, I thank you…” (Luke 18:11) It’s a man-centered prayer, telling God how he’s in control of his own salvation, “I open…” and what he commands God to do for him, “Take control… Make me…” Worse than these, Christ is not a helpless God pleading to the sinner to open the door of his heart, a gross misinterpretation of Revelation 3:20.
Compare this with this Puritan prayer, “The Convicting Spirit”
Thou blessed Spirit, Author of all grace and comfort,
Come, work repentance in my soul;
Represent sin to me in its odious colors that I may hate it;
Melt my heart by the majesty and mercy of God;
Show me my ruined self and the help there is in him;
Teach me to behold my Creator,
his ability to save,
his arms outstretched,
his heart big for me.
May I confide in his power and love,
commit my soul to him without reserve,
bear his image, observe his laws,
pursue his service,
and be through time and eternity
a monument to the efficacy of his grace,
a trophy of his victory.
Make me willing to be saved in his way,
perceiving nothing in myself, but all in Jesus:
Help me not only to receive him but
to walk in him,
depend upon him,
commune with him,
be conformed to him,
imperfect, but still pressing forward,
not complaining of labour, but valuing rest,
not murmuring under trials, but thankful
for my state.
Give me that faith which is the means of salvation,
and the principle and medium of all godliness;
May I be saved by grace through faith,
live by faith,
feel the joy of faith,
do the work of faith.
Perceiving nothing in myself, may I find in Christ
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification,
This Puritan sinner, in contrast with the modern sinner, acknowledges that the Holy Spirit alone works in man’s salvation and that man is totally lost in sin: “Come, work repentance in my soul,” “Give me that faith which is the means of salvation,” and “Perceiving nothing in myself.” May we always be aware that after receiving faith and repentance, being a disciple of Christ means “to walk in him, depend upon him, commune with him, be conformed to him, follow him.”