Question: Ever since I can remember I have heard the unsaved who indicate an interest in serving God led to repeat a prayer called ‘the sinner’s prayer. Is there such a prescribed prayer in scriptures? If so, where could I find it? Oh, one other thing. After repeating this prescribed ‘sinner’s prayer’ they tell the person they are now saved. Is that true, does repeating this prayer make a person saved?
Answer: This question has two parts so before we proceed let’s define them clearly. 1. Is there a biblical template for ‘the sinner’s prayer’? 2. Is repeating ‘the sinner’s prayer’ the step into salvation?
The answer to both questions is ‘no’. Scripture does not outline a sinner’s prayer and repeating such a prescribed prayer is not the indication that someone has passed from death into life.
Scripture does tell us what the signs of salvation are and what people who are saved will do. Repeating a prescribed prayer is not one. The sinner’s prayer is a human construct designed to hustle great numbers of people into the kingdom so evangelists can boast of their success. Some of these people are saved and will go on to manifest the signs but a great many others aren’t.
The scripture passage in Romans that is used to justify the so called ‘sinner’s prayer’ says, “…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10 From this the ‘sinner’s prayer’ was constructed. Those who indicate their interest to be saved were therefore told to repeat the following, “Lord I believe in my heart and confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead. Amen” Or something similar.
The man made ‘sinner’s prayer’ differs from what scripture says in that one is dictated while the other flows naturally and spontaneously from the heart. The scripture speaks of a confession that is an overflow from a heart that is full of a new found faith in Jesus. This faith is explosive in nature. It is powered by the Holy Spirit‘s revelation of the Lordship of Christ and the power that God exercised when He raised Him from the dead. The Holy Spirit does this when the true gospel is preached. As someone who has found love cannot help but tell friends similarly someone to whom the Lordship of Christ is revealed cannot help speaking about it.
Do we need to tell a drowning person what to say to raise an alarm? Similarly we do not need to tell a person who has been truly impacted by the gospel and has met Christ what they need to say. Continue reading and you will notice that the scripture says, “…whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 Notice God chose to use the word ‘call’. To call is to: say something in a loud voice, especially in order to attract someone’s attention. The one who is impacted by the gospel is liken to a drowning person because they have discovered that they are being pulled down to their death by their sins. As a drowning person calls for help so this sinner calls on God the only one who can save them.
If meeting Christ and being born again of His Spirit wasn’t powerful enough to activate the springs under your tongue, guess what? You weren’t saved.
Salvation starts by the word of God impacting the very core of us, our hearts. “if you… believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead…” This is brought out in the Acts 2 account when God moved in power and after Peter stood up and preached Jesus. It says, “Now 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?’” The cutting of their hearts initiated a spontaneous response, they began to ask questions. Something must happen to the mouth that is connected to an overflowing heart. What comes out the mouth may be different for different people. Some may start to ask questions, others may begin to pray to a God who they now believe can hear and answer them while again others may go tell their friends of their newly found faith etc.
A genuine, organic and spontaneous process has been replaced by a pre fabricated and false tool that was engineered for the mass production of ‘Christians’, In the book of Acts scripture says God was adding daily to the church (Acts 2:47), today we see man doing the adding through cleverly conceived methods like ‘the sinners prayer’. Even worse, they give people false hope by telling them they are saved because they repeated those words. They offer a salvation that has been reduced to the likes of joining the boys scout. Put your hand up, repeat the creed and you are in.
Kindly note that I am not saying that all those who have said ‘the sinner’s prayer’ are not saved. Some who have said this prayer are saved but not because they said the prayer. A great many others have said this prayer and are not saved. May God help them because it is much harder for a person who believes they are already saved to receive the salvation message.