Imagine my surprise when I was reading Hosea last weekend and came across a God-ordained "sinner's prayer":
Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
"Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say 'Our gods'
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion"
God gave them exact words to pray to Him for repentance, to avoid the wrath described in the preceding chapters. How is that different than presenting tracts that say 'Pray this prayer (and mean it) to be on God's side' to sinners today?
I still believe that 'becoming a Christian' isn't a moment when you said magic words, but a decision and a relationship stretched out over a long time. I'm sure, in Hosea's day, God wanted changed hearts as well, not just these words.
Hosea finishes the chapter (and book) with these words:
Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
What do you think of the 'Sinner's Prayer'? Is it a 'ticket to salvation'? Is it the best way to explain to unbelievers the way to enter a relationship with God? What has been your experience?