A Matter of the Heart

A question I’m occasionally asked regarding my evangelism techniques is whether someone who prays with me to get saved really means it. This issue was brought up again a few days ago after attending a prayer meeting at the YMCA. There I saw a woman smoking outside and felt led to witness to her. I approached Chelonda by handing her a tract and eventually asked where she would spend eternity when her life ended. Chelonda wasn’t sure and so I quoted Romans 10:9 to her. Then I asked Chelonda if she believed Jesus Christ is the Son of God and if He died on the cross and rose again from the dead. Chelonda answered “yes” to these questions. I invited her to pray with me to receive salvation and she did. 

Minutes later, a pastor who went to the prayer meeting with me commented that sinners must feel convicted of their need for salvation. He had seen me lead other people to the Lord and questioned if there was genuine repentance. I replied by pointing out that whenever people I witness to don’t want to get born again, they will let me know. (Some of them have gotten defensive even if they claim to believe the gospel.) I could also mention that my salvation prayer begins with, “God in heaven, I know I’m a sinner and I need your help.” Doesn’t that sound that repentance?

I will admit there have been rare incidents when I led people in the “sinner’s prayer” and then found out they really didn’t mean it. But earlier this year I started using a tactic learned from my friend Clint. Whenever I suspect someone might be praying half-heartedly, I close the prayer by having that person confess, “I pray this prayer with all sincerity in the name of Jesus.”

Six years ago while visiting Canada, I led a friend’s mother to the Lord.  Because her mother continued living with her boyfriend and didn’t attend a church, my friend questioned the legitimacy of her mother’s salvation. But recently her mother got married and has become part of a fellowship. 

I believe the majority of people who are willing to pray with me publicly and confess Jesus openly are sincere. Whether their prayers are genuine or not, that’s not for me to judge. Only God knows the status of a man’s heart.

“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” - 1 Samuel 16:7


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