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“At the end of three hours of dialogue with Gene Bedford that momentous Saturday in June I volunteered, ‘I’m ready’ — and I somewhat understated my readiness by a fallback to Pascal’s wager. ‘If I go ahead, and there’s nothing to it, I have nothing to lose,’ I said; ‘if I don’t go ahead, and there is something to it, I have everything to lose.’

‘Let’s pray,’ he said.  We knelt down in the front of the car, Gene crowding down at the steering wheel and I beside him.  There was a long silence during which I was unsure how to begin.  A newspaper reporter and editor, and exposed in my youth to the Episcopal prayer book, I nonetheless lacked words appropriate to the moment.

‘If I pray first,’ Gene volunteered, ‘will you repeat after me?’  I agreed.

Sentence by sentence Gene prayed the Lord’s Prayer, and I followed.  Then I acknowledged my sinful condition and prayed God to cleanse my life of the accumulated evil of the years, to empty me of self and to make resident within me the Holy Spirit to guide and rule my life.

By the end of that prayer the wonder was wrought.  I had inner assurance hitherto unknown of sins forgiven, that Jesus was my Savior, that I was on speaking terms with God as my Friend.  A floodtide of peace and joy swept over me.  My life’s future, I was confident, was now anchored in and charted by another world, the truly real world.”

Carl F. H. Henry, Confessions of a Theologian: An Autobiography (Waco, 1986), page 46.

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Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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