THE SINNER'S PRAYER
The Pharisee and the publican picture all people who pray. The Pharisee approached God on the basis of his own righteousness and thought that was safe ground. The publican came just as he was, admitting his sin and claiming God's mercy.
There are but two kinds of religion: that which says "Do" and the other that says "It is done." Multitudes hope to get to heaven because of their good works and therefore go out of their way to perform religious and righteous acts. Sadly, their good works will avail nothing. Heaven's gates are not hinged on the accomplishments of men. How clearly Isaiah has explained the futility of seeking God's favor through good works: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6).
The publican understood that he was a sinner. This is absolutely necessary. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Only sinners can be saved. And ALL are sinners: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10).
But God has been merciful to sinners. Christ died for sinners. There on the cross the debt of sin was paid. You can come to the Saviour just as you are. There is no need to reform or change in any way to be received of Him. Come with repentant heart and trust in Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour. You do not even have to pray a prescribed prayer: "...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved... " (Acts 16:31).