What is "the sinner's prayer"?
It is basically an evangelical phrase referring
to a prayer offered to God by a sinner who wants
to change their relationship with Him. Here
are a few of the better known examples:
I know that I have broken your laws and
my sins have separated me from you. I
am truly sorry, and now I want to turn
away from my past sinful life toward you.
Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning
again. I believe that your son, Jesus
Christ died for my sins, was resurrected
from the dead, is alive, and hears my
prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord
of my life, to rule and reign in my heart
from this day forward. Please send your
Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to
do Your will for the rest of my life.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
Father, I know that I am a sinner and
that I deserve to go to hell. I believe
that Jesus Christ died on the cross for
my sins. I do now receive him as my Lord
and personal Savior. I promise to serve
you to the best of my ability. Please
save me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner,
and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe
You died for my sins and rose from the
dead. I turn from my sins and invite You
to come into my heart and life. I want
to trust and follow You as my Lord and
Savior. In Your Name. Amen"
Is there anything wrong with saying those words,
or expressing those sentiments sincerely? Of
The problem is that it has been
falsely taught and accepted as the way of salvation...
that just praying those words saves a person
and their devotion to Christ afterward is encouraged,
but not required.
We can get any number of different
opinions and personal comments regarding the
Sinner's Prayer (or any other religious topic
for that matter), but ultimately it doesn't
matter what I, or anyone else, thinks or believes.
All that matters is what the Lord has stated
in His Word since it is truth (Ps 119:160) and
it will judge us in the last day (Jn 12:48).
So, Let's examine what the Scriptures say about
the Sinner's Prayer:
of times The Sinner's Prayer is used:
of times The Sinner's Prayer is mentioned:
of times Jesus told someone to pray for
of times any apostle or elder told someone
to pray for salvation:
of times anyone in the New Testament told
someone to pray for salvation:
If the sinner's prayer
is required by God for salvation,
it would be included in the Bible as a command
and example for us to follow!
examples where The Sinner's Prayer would
have been instructed if it were true)
when they heard this, they
were cut to the heart, and said to Peter
and the rest of the apostles, “Men
and brethren, what shall we do?”
Peter said to them, “Repent,
and let every one of you be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission
of sins; and you shall receive the gift
of the Holy Spirit.
Peter had an audience of thousands that
were asking how to be saved...
why didn't he tell them to sincerely recite
Philip ran to him, and heard him reading
the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do
you understand what you
he said, “How can I, unless someone
guides me?” And he asked
Philip to come up and sit with him.
Philip opened his mouth,
and beginning at this Scripture, preached
Jesus to him.
as they went down the road, they came to
some water. And the eunuch said, “See,
here is water. What hinders me from being
Philip said, “If you believe
with all your heart, you may.” And
he answered and said, “I believe
that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
he commanded the chariot to stand still.
And both Philip and the eunuch went
down into the water, and he
when they came up out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away,
so that the eunuch saw him no more; and
he went on his way rejoicing.
Phillip must have taught the
Ethiopean about confessing and baptism
as part of preaching Jesus (based on the
Ethiopean's words & actions), but
why didn't Phillip teach him about the
he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord,
what do You want me to do?” Then the
Lord said to him, “Arise and go into
the city, and you will be told what you
Why didn't the Author
of Salvation tell Saul he only
needed to pray to him to be saved?
NT coversion examples)
in this last example, the Lord knew that Saul
was praying after the encounter on the road
to Damascus, but even after the prayers, Saul
was still in his sins! His sins were not washed
away until baptism.
the Lord said to him, “Arise and go
to the street called Straight, and inquire
at the house of Judas for one called Saul
of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying
now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized,
and wash away your sins,
calling on the name of the Lord.’
Should we not be concerned that the Holy Spirit-inspired
apostles didn't teach or write anything about
praying for salvation? Is it wise to base one's
eternal destiny on a belief that is nowhere
found in Scripture? The phrase and practice
of the Sinner's Prayer didn't even appear until
the 17th-18th Century! Why would we base our
salvation on what is clearly a man-made doctrine?
God's Word repeatedly associates
hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, baptism,
and life-long faithfulness with salvation in
the New Testament age (see
here for many examples!). Prayer is encouraged
and commanded repeatedly, but not once as a
condition for salvation.
So who is right? "Indeed,
let God be true but every man a liar."