Exactly When Does a Person’s Relationship with God Begin?
(Adapted from my book The Prodigal Paradigm)
Is the child who kneels by his bed and prays the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) in relationship with God even if he has had no single initial faith event, conversion event or a walking of the aisle?
What about the child who kneels and prays a rhyming prayer like this one:
“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
Can a child who believes in God and prays, whatever prayer he/she knows, yet has had no conversion experience, no knowledge of the gospel or of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, be in right standing with God?
Christian orthodoxy says that justification is related to a person’s initial faith and without that initial faith all are unjustified and therefore out of relationship with God.
Is this biblical?
What about that child?
Well…I was that child. Let me share my own experience.
Before you think it or say it. I know. I know. You shouldn’t go from experience to truth, but from truth to experience. With that sentiment I am in hearty approval. But before any of us start throwing stones, let’s be sure that we have the truth and that we are applying it properly and that the experiences in question don’t illumine us to the absence of truth (which we thought we had in the first place).
When I was very, very young (I don’t even remember how old I was), I remember saying my prayers as I knelt beside my bed. The only prayers I knew were the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) and that little rhyme Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep given above. Since the rhyme seemed most appropriate at bedtime, it was the prayer I repeated nightly.
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