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This Is My Story: Aaron Berry

“Not Just a Prayer”

It was driving me crazy! Why did my parents keep praying for me? I was a good kid. I was in a Christian family. I didn’t get into much trouble. Yet, whenever we got together as a family and prayed, my parents would pray that I would “get saved.” They thought I was too young to understand what they were saying, but I understood what they meant perfectly, and it was getting on my nerves. I am a Christian! I would say to myself. After all, my parents are Christians and my older brother and sister are Christians. We went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I had to be a Christian, but each night when our family gathered together, they would pray for my salvation.

Finally, I had had enough. I’ll just make my parents happy, I said to myself. I’ll “pray the prayer” so that my parents will stop praying for me. I didn’t even know what being a Christian meant. I thought that I just had to say a “magic prayer” and I would be good for life. As a very young boy, I pulled my mother aside, and I “prayed the prayer.” After I said “Amen,” I thought I had things taken care of. In reality, I was no more a Christian than a murderer. My idea of Christianity was completely wrong.

I have heard preachers say that “it’s easy to show someone how to be saved. The difficult part is getting them lost.” That was my problem.

I had no concept of how wicked I was. I didn’t see myself as the wicked depraved sinner that I am, and that I was headed for everlasting punishment in hell.

Psalm 14:3b says, “There is none that does good, no, not one.”

Romans 3:23 also says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I had deceived myself into thinking that I was a good person. I didn’t see my need to become a Christian because I already thought I was okay.

Not only did I have no concept of how wicked I was, but I also had no concept of what salvation was. I looked at it as a formula, a simple prayer that would get me a ticket to heaven. The problem is that the Bible never talks about a special prayer that one must say. In fact, the Bible says that our efforts have nothing to do with
salvation.

Titus 3:5-6 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Those verses said nothing about a “magical prayer.” Salvation is a heart change.

It’s when God reveals to a person that as a sinner, he comes incredibly short of God’s awesome glory, and his only hope of forgiveness is to trust in what Jesus did on the cross. I knew what Jesus had done. I knew that He had died on a cross a long time ago because He loved me. What I didn’t know was that when He died, He took my place. He took all my sin and guilt and laid it on His shoulders so that I wouldn’t have to be punished as I deserved.

Salvation is not based on what we do, but what Jesus has already done on the cross. I didn’t understand that. I simply repeated after my mother, and prayed a prayer. I didn’t actually accept the free gift that Jesus offered and repent of my awful sin that offended a holy God.

When did I finally accept Jesus Christ into my life? It wasn’t anything flashy.

I wasn’t standing out in the middle of an open field with my hands stretched out toward heaven. I was lying in my bed alone with my thoughts and with God. I was older now, and was much more aware of my sinful nature. I was NOT a good kid as I had once thought. My sins that I had been committing daily were smacking the face of God, and He was now working on my heart. As I lay looking at the ceiling, God reminded me of Christ’s free gift and the eternal life that He offers in Heaven. God reminded me of my rebellion. I was a sinner that had been trusting in a prayer for years. As I said, it wasn’t dramatic. A bright light didn’t burst through my bedroom window. In fact, I’m not even sure how old I was. All I know is that night, as I lay in my bed, I accepted Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. I confessed my sins to Him, and my life has never been the same!

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Being a Christian means accepting what God has already done for you!

Romans 10:9 says, “If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” You can’t save yourself. Your good works will do nothing to get you to heaven. A prayer won’t get you to heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Looking back on my childhood, I am so thankful that my parents prayed for my salvation. Now I am praying for those who read this. Accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, not trusting in your own good works, and give your life to Him. Your very eternal life depends on it.

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