As many of you I have heard people worry they would not know what to say to God were they to try and pray. It seems a large number think a secret code or passwords are necessary. I think scripture as a whole points to a heart condition when approaching God rather than smooth talk.

There are no magic words to calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). How Rosaria Champagne Butterfield opens her heart in this prayer, I think, reveals the repentance and faith God seeks. This is how she describes the night of her salvation.

That night, I prayed, and asked God if the gospel message was for someone like me, too. I viscerally felt the living presence of God as I prayed. Jesus seemed present and alive. I knew that I was not alone in my room. I prayed that if Jesus was truly a real and risen God, that he would change my heart. And if he was real and if I was his, I prayed that he would give me the strength of mind to follow him and the character to become a godly woman. I prayed for the strength of character to repent for a sin that at that time didn’t feel like sin at all–it felt like life, plain and simple. I prayed that if my life was actually his life, that he would take it back and make it what he wanted it to be. I asked him to take it all: my sexuality, my profession, my community, my tastes, my books and my tomorrows.

Later she reflects on what it means to repent, her reflection brimming with biblical insight:

I learned the first rule of repentance: that repentance requires greater intimacy with God that with our sin. How much greater? About the size of a mustard seed. Repentance requires that we draw near to Jesus, no matter what. And sometimes we all have to crawl there on our hands and knees. Repentance is an intimate affair. And for many of us, intimacy with anything is a terrifying prospect.

From The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, pgs. 20, 21.