Learn MoreWhat should I pray?
There’s no ‘set prayer’ that you must pray! It’s beginning a conversation with God and needs to be in your own words. The prayer below is really just an outline. You can and should add your own words!
Dear God Thank you for making the world and me in it. I’m sorry that I’ve rejected you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place, for my sin. Please forgive me. Please help me to live my life for you now. Amen
This prayer is not ‘magic’ but is meant to be a genuine expression of what’s in your heart and mind. After you’ve prayed you may ‘feel’ something has changed, or not. Some people do experience a joy, and others don’t. Regardless of your experience, if you’ve prayed a prayer of giving your life to follow Jesus then you’ve become a child of God!
Welcome to the family!
Becoming a Christian is not just making an intellectual decision or deciding on a new philosophy of life. It’s the beginning of a relationship with God. If you want a relationship with someone you need to actually tell them. You can’t just decide to be their friend from a distance. At best that’s admiration, at worst it’s stalking, but it’s definitely not a friendship!
With God, we need to tell him that we want to accept the forgiveness he offers and be his child.
You could summarise becoming a Christian as ABC:
- Accept- that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected for your sin.
- Believe- that Jesus lived, died and was resurrected for your sin.
- Commit to living for God now.
Accept and believe are two steps you could do in your mind, but commitment takes communicating with God!
The reason I say this is that to become a Christian is free, you don’t have to pay anything, do anything, say anything. In fact, if you think there’s something you must do to become a Christian then you haven’t understood! It’s all about accepting the forgiveness the Jesus’ death offers. Like with any gift, you have to actually receive and open it. If you take the present and put it on the shelf, then you are rejecting the person who gave it to you. And even worse, if you say to the person who gave you the gift ‘oh thank you, how much do I owe you?’ then (in Western culture, at least) you’re being offensive!
But how then, can it cost your whole life?! What I mean is that your whole life will be changed by becoming a child of God. You can’t be adopted into God’s family and think that you can do whatever you like. You are now connected to God in a special way, and you are connected to other Christians in a special way. Your whole life will now be a reflection of the forgiveness you’ve experienced from God. And what’s more, your life will be a window into Christianity for others who don’t know Jesus.
And finally, your life will now be lived to please God. Not to ‘make him like you’, but in gratitude for eternity with him. You’ve been given the gift of life, and now your life will be a lived demonstration of that.
The Bible is ‘God revealing himself to humanity’ and so, if you want to know God you need to read the Bible. To avoid being overwhelmed by the size of it, I suggest you start reading Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. This will help you learn more about Jesus through the eyes of those who lived, walked and talked with him.
The easiest way to read the Bible is to find another Christian to meet with. That way you can talk through your questions and work out the implications for your life.
I’ve outlined how choosing and accessing a Bible on this page. Read the Bible For Yourself
Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, but you know that already! Going to church is meeting with God, in the company of God’s family. It’s a celebration together of what God has done in our lives.
Going to church is also about learning from other people about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Bible. It is many years before a young Christian has a completely self-sustaining faith, and by that time a mature Christian has realised how much we depend on each other.
Asking ‘Do I have to go to church?’ is like asking ‘Do I have to go to family lunch after we get married?’. It’s not compulsory, but you’re now family.
The other thing is that in my personal experience I need to go to church because I have a very short memory. I forget who I am before God in a handful of weeks. Going to church reminds me who God is, and who I am weekly.
There are a few factors in choosing a church.
- When you visit a church, you need to ask:
- Are they teaching from the Bible, every week? And when they teach, do they expect that you’ll be looking at the Bible yourself?
- Are there Bible study groups where you can join a small group to study the Bible together?
- Are they a praying church? Do they pray regularly during the service, at other times and individually as well?
- And personally, you need to ask:
- Is it a church that encourages you in your own faith?
- Is it a welcoming church? Do you feel like you could belong in this community?
- Can you cope with the music? Not, is it the best music I’ve ever experienced, but rather does the music help me connect with God?
As with any relationship, you’re free to walk away. But before you walk away there are some things to consider.
In every Christian’s life there are times when you want to give up your faith or even reject your faith. It’s a normal experience. I’ve been at the point myself, three times. And each time the question for me has been ‘What has changed? Did Jesus live, die and resurrect 2000 years ago?’ If that’s still true, then I need to work out what’s driving my desire to reject God.
- Am I depressed?
- Am I disagreeing with other Christians?
- Is there a part of the Bible that I’m struggling with?
- Am I misrepresenting God in my own mind?
And once I’ve worked out the questions, then I can begin to search for some answers. Often, this will involve finding a mature Christian and telling them all my doubts, and asking all my questions. Then listen, reflect and pray.
The other thing I’ve observed is that while we expect the Christian life to be a smooth upward trajectory, it never is! The normal Christian life is a pattern: a steep growth, followed by a plateau, followed by a significant crisis which prompts a steep growth. Overall the upward trend is similar, but the lived experience is more like a rollercoaster. If we recognise this as the pattern, then the reaction to a crisis can become one where you look forward to the growth even in the middle of the dark times.
In my experience of seeing people come to faith over many years, I’ve observed a strange, but common, phenomenon.
In the months after someone becomes a Christian there’s often a moment when they suddenly doubt all that’s happened. It’s a moment where people think they’ve made a stupid decision and it’s all wrong. This is in spite of the fact that they thought long and hard before they became a Christian. I describe it as ‘falling into a black hole’.
My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that the Evil One doesn’t want people committing their lives to following Christ and so this is an ‘all out’ effort to unseat the person’s newfound faith.
The interesting thing is, if a person is warned in advance then they brush the experience off without damage. But if the experience is unexpected then it causes all sorts of angst. Therefore, I always explain to new believers that this may happen to them.
I also explain very carefully that the Bible tells us to expect suffering! Thinking that becoming a Christian will end suffering is a misunderstanding of the Bible. Jesus tells his disciples ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first’. John 15:18 and so suffering is expected.