We mustn't think that anyone who engages in Christian religiosity will have entrance to the Kingdom when the time comes; Jesus makes that abundantly clear (Matthew 7:22, 22:12).
But neither must we come to believe that a sincerely repentant heart is somehow insufficient to merit the mercy of the cross. "from the first day that you set your heart to understand and to humble yourself" says the angel to Daniel, "your words were heard". Not from the 30th day or the 30th year, not after the Lord could be absolutely certain that Daniel was serious, but from day one.
I'm convinced that there's more to salvation than saying a sinner's prayer and going about life as if one has merely joined a book club. What's required, rather, is a complete transformation of the heart. But that transformation - more than any of us can manage - is Christ's work. It's the work of the Cross; it's the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Our role in this cosmic equation, as Daniel demonstrates, is to make a commitment to humble ourselves before our God and live in genuine obedience to the truth. If we do that, Heaven hears our voice from day one; and His faithfulness can be trusted.
If our prayer is sincere, we must not fear.
Colin McComb lives in Edson, Alberta with his wife, Gail, and their three lovely children.