Have you heard of the “Sinner’s Prayer” or perhaps you have been asked to recite it with someone to be saved? There are numerous church organizations and preachers who prescribe to what is known as the Sinners Prayer. We are going to investigate the question, “Is the Sinner’s Prayer Scriptural?”
The two questions for us to answer, as it is so very important are,
- Is the Sinner’s Prayer Scriptural?
- Is the Sinner’s Prayer found in the Bible and has God approved this prayer as the way of salvation?
The Sinner’s Prayer Defined
This is taken from the Christianity.com website, “The “Sinner’s Prayer” typically refers to a non-Christian’s initial prayer of repentance and faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; thus, it is often associated with the moment of conversion into the Christian faith.”
Let us now look at this prayer in action.
“Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
At the end of this prayer, they ask you if you said the pray. If you say yes, they then welcome you into the family of God. Let us pause for a moment. What they are saying is, if you said this prayer you have been added to the Church and can be counted as a member of the family of God.
Can the Sinners Prayer be Found in the Bible?
If the Sinners Prayer can save you from your sins, where in the Bible do these preachers find it in the Bible? There are a few places they pull this from, we will look at a couple of them.
Some may refer to Luke 18
“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you; this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”Luke 18:9-14
Let us note some errors with these verses being used to show a path to salvation.
Error 1: These men were on the other side of the cross. Christ had not died yet, and his church had not been established. That would only occur later in Acts 2:38 after Jesus’ death. In Luke 18 we are not there yet. So, saying that this prayer would lead you to your salvation is unfortunately false.
Error 2: These men were Jews and already in a covenant relationship with God, but it was not the covenant of the New Testament but that of the Old Testament. Since Christ had not died yet, his will was not enacted at this time.
Justification of the Prayer
Let us look at another scripture that is used to justify the sinner’s prayer.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”1 John 1:9
Error 1: This verse is being directed towards Christians and not alien sinners. Alien sinners are those who have not been added to the church.
Yet another example occurs in Acts 9:11. Here Saul of Tarsus, later would be known as Paul the Apostle was praying as he had come to realize that he was sinning against God.
“Now here was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So, the Lord said to him, “Arise and go the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of tarsus, for behold, he is praying.”Acts 9:10-11
This verse is used as justification for the sinner’s prayer due to the circumstance that Saul found himself in. He was in sin and was praying about it. However, let us look further at what happened when Ananias found Saul.
In Acts 22, Ananias meets Saul and in verse 16 says this to him, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
Note that Ananias tells Saul to be “baptized that his sins may be washed away.” This is the same thing that happened to those in Acts 2:38, who were baptized for the remission of their sins.”
The Sinner’s Prayer in no shape or form can save you from your sins. Doing it unfortunately is in vain. However, the Bible has prescribed a way for you to be saved of your sins. It is through the plan of salvation.
Plan of Salvation
Hear the Word of God
- Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Believe that Jesus is the True Son of God
- Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Repent of Your Sins
- Luke 13:3, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Confess Your Faith in Jesus Christ
- Matthew 10:32-33, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
You Must Be Baptized through Immersion
- Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Finally, you need to stay in a state that is pleasing to God and remain faithful until your death. We realize that you may stumble from time to time, but your focus needs to be on God. When you do stumble, and you will, here is where 1 John 1:9 comes into play. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
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