You Can Become a Christian Right Now
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
If you've decided that you want to become a Christian, you can, right now, in the time it takes to read this web page. If you're not sure, you can think about it some more... Some people suddenly know. For others, their desire to be a Christian grows slowly over a period of time. It was like that for me. (I'll do a page eventually on how I became a Christian, since for most of my life I wasn't one).
There's only one Jesus Christ, but there are many different ways that people can come to him and become Christians. Soon I'll do another page showing examples from the Bible and from real life of some of these.
Currently this web page offers two ways you can become a Christian right now. You can use either of these, or both — whichever seems the best to you. (I'll add one or two more options to this page later...) When I became a Christian myself ten years ago I did all these things, because I wanted to be really sure I hadn't left anything out.
Repentance means to change. This isn't one of the options, it's an important part of becoming a Christian. I'll refine this section (and the whole page) after my exams finish in mid-November 2018. There are varying opinions on what extent of repentance is required to be a Christian. For now I'll just say that it covers the kinds of changes I've discussed already on this website:
- Accepting there are some "costs" to being a Christian (which aren't really costs at all in the big picture, since the benefits are so much greater).
- Acknowledging that God knows more than you.
- Recognising occasions when you haven't been living the best way possible according to what God thinks is best (as opposed to what what you think is best).
- Being prepared to put God's ideas above your own limited and biased (and therefore quite often wrong) human ideas about what's best.
- None of us (both Christians and non-Christians alike) are living exactly as God (through Jesus) asks of us.
- Once we start to follow Jesus we become forgiven by God for these transgressions.
- Repentance occurs at conversion when we realise how much different our old lives used to be like, compared to what our new lives will be like following Jesus.
- Repentance is also an ongoing process which occurs as we, now as Christians, gradually over time align our lives to grow closer to the teachings and example of Jesus (and the Apostles) as given to us in the Bible.
Repentance is part of the Sinner's Prayer (see further down this page), and also part of very many examples of conversions given to us in the Bible (which aren't based on the Sinner's Prayer).
What's Really Important
The important thing is really wanting to follow Jesus, with your life, and become his disciple.
The Bible gives us examples of people being converted to Christ. (I'll list these here soon, or at least some of them...) The first disciples of Jesus were Simon (also called Peter and also called Cephas) and his brother Andrew. When they decided to follow Jesus, they just did exactly that. They decided to follow him. And then they did it.
Of course, they didn't need to pray a prayer to Jesus, since he was physically there. And they followed him around from place to place in the physical sense. In the book of Acts however, after Jesus' resurrection and ascension to heaven, there are several examples of people's conversions. They didn't pray the Sinner's Prayer either. They just joined the Christians and became disciples of Jesus. They followed Jesus in the sense of following him spiritually, and following his teachings and his example (and that of other Christians), just as Christians do today.
Christianity is an ongoing experience. It's a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit. It's not making "a decision" once ever that has literally zero effect on anything else about your life. Following Jesus, on continuing basis, will eventually change almost everything about your life, one step at a time, from the inside out — and for the better.
So all you really need to do is decide that you truly do want to become a Christian. And start following Jesus. That's it.
That may not seem like much, but if you really mean it, and really do it (that is, really do follow Jesus), the whole entire course of your future has now been changed. You're a Christian!
I think this is the simplest way to become a Christian, because it contains the one essential thing required: The act of following Jesus with your life as your number one priority — based on what you learn from God's word (the Bible), on Jesus' spiritually influencing your life, and on following the examples and teaching of other Christians. If you do just this one thing (follow Jesus with your life as your Lord and master), and really do it, all the other things (such as learning how to pray, and increasing your faith) will follow on from that.
One of the main things that Christians do is pray. So as a new Christian, that's a very good place to start. To pray just means to talk to God, or to Jesus. You can pray aloud, or silently in your head. You can pray long prayers for an hour or more at a time, or short prayers of a few words, or anywhere in between. They can be formal, or very casual and conversational, like you'd speak to an ordinary person.
I'm going to quote the Lord's Prayer first (instead of the Sinner's Prayer) because it's in the Bible, and it's what Jesus himself says when he instructs us on how to pray.
My suggestion is to pray this once through. Spoken out aloud or quietly. Spoken out aloud is good, but if you're on the train sitting in a "quiet carriage" (or something) then praying in your head is completely fine. God can still hear you.
Then, after praying it once through (or more times if you like), pray it again — but change all the words into your own words. (You could also change the plural words like "our" and "us" to their singular forms like "my" and "me".) Praying it in your own words will make you think about what the words mean, and will add a lot to your experience. Jesus teaches us to pray like the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9), and he specifically says not to use "vain repetitions" (Matthew 6:7).
Basing prayers around the Lords' Prayer (but in your own words) is one really good way you can begin praying regularly. Especially when you're not used to praying, and aren't always sure of what to say. You can structure a lot of your prayers around the things in the Lord's Prayer, and expand on them, using whatever language that comes from within yourself. You don't even have to pray everything in the prayer every time you pray. You might just take one of the points and expand on it in your own language, and adding things from your own life, or the lives of other people that you're praying for.
So, here's another reason this page has the Lord's Prayer before the Sinner's Prayer: The Sinner's Prayer is meant to be a once-off event to be prayed as part of your conversion experience. Because of this it has a tendency to become a "set it and forget it" type of prayer. The Lord's prayer is the most prayed prayer in the history of the world. It's meant to be the basis of your ongoing prayer experience, as you communicate intentionally with God and with Christ.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
Holy is your name.
Let your Kingdom come.
Let your will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Note that the Lord's Prayer includes asking God to forgive your sins, which is part of repentance. With the other part being actually changing your life around avoiding those sins in future, as best as you can. This doesn't have to be a 100% complete instant change — but it does have to be a genuine desire to change, which does produce some amount of actual change. Which refines and improves as you grow in Christ over time.
Ask Jesus In
Perhaps the thing that's been left out of this page so far (and which is the other main part of the Sinner's Prayer) is to ask Jesus into your life, as your Lord and master. This isn't even 100% necessary to become a Christian, since Jesus will know if you're living for him, and praying to him, and following him as a Christian. But it can help with your own thoughts, and with feeling a strong sense of change — that from now on you have a completely new life, and everything is different:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.
You can add this to your prayers now, and any time in the future. (Though if you pray it in the future it would usually be more in the present tense, as in "Thank you for being in my life as my Lord and master"; you can always ask Jesus back into your life if at any time from now on you feel you've forgotten about him).
The Sinner's Prayer
There are many pages on the internet about how to become a Christian. A lot of them guide you through the "Sinner's Prayer". Some people like this more than others. I think it's okay, though it does have some negatives:
The Sinner's Prayer isn't mentioned in the Bible. It's more of a recent thing, probably originating in the Protestant Reformation which happened around the years 1500-1650 approximately.
Apart from not being in the Bible, the main argument against the sinners prayer is that someone might pray a one minute-long prayer (such as the Sinner's Prayer) once ever in their whole life; and then never think a single thought about Jesus ever again, nor experience any difference to their life, how they live, how they feel, how they think, what they do, or anything at all different to before their one prayer... and consider themselves to be a Christian. That's an extreme example, but less extreme examples of this are common — where the person's Christian experience can be quite trivial (and sometimes quite short-lived).
I don't feel it's my place to say whether or not someone is a genuine Christian or not. I do truly believe that it's much, much, much better to be really following Jesus with your life than to not be. (And much more enjoyable, especially on the inside, where it counts the most). Praying one prayer and then thinking that's all there is to Christianity (even if you hang out at church and occasionally pick up a Bible) would mean missing out on so much. I think it would be kind of like being told you've won a $500,000 sports car in a lottery, feeling completely over the moon, getting the car keys, driving your new car straight home to your garage, throwing the keys to the car and to the garage in the back of a drawer somewhere... And then never thinking about them again.
You can pray the Sinner's Prayer now if you like. Keep in mind thought that the important thing is that you're serious about wanting to follow Jesus with your life, and become a Christian. It's not the act of repeating a few lines of words that counts. As above with the Lord's Prayer you can also put this into your own words — if you don't, at least think about what the words mean as you say them. (Coming soon on this page... more explanation of this).
Lord, I admit that I have sinned and made myself unclean before you, the Holy God. I understand that I deserve death as the penalty for my sins, and I believe that Jesus Christ paid this price with His blood. I want to turn away from my life-style of selfishness and sin; I repent. I confess Jesus Christ as my Saviour and I put him in control of my life as my Lord. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
In future I'll add some pages (eventually, many of them) about the next steps you can take as a new Christian. Pray regularly. They don't have to be long formal prayers (though some of them can be). Consider visiting a church, or even try out a few different ones — as there's a huge variation, and some you'll like more than others.
You could visit a Christian bookshop and have a browse. If you do that make sure you check out the Bible section. There are so many different Bibles available now, we are really quite spoiled (in a good way). Pick one that you really like. I tend to like study Bibles that have a lot of extra notes and a lot of maps and pictures.
You can get Bible apps for phones and other devices. You can read the Bible on this website and on many others. It's a good idea to read a whole Gospel (one of the books Mark, Luke, Matthew, or John, listed in order of easiest to hardest). If you've done that already, you could read one of the New Testament letters (a.k.a. "Epistles") — perhaps Ephesians or Philippians. The book of Acts tells the story of the first Christian believers after Jesus resurrection, and the story of the early Christian church.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you, now and forever.
Next page: How to Read the Bible
See also: Why Become a Christian?