Thursday, March 08, 2007

The sinner's prayer

What is the sinner's prayer?

I am asking because recently I am being asked these questions: is the sinner's prayer really necessary? Does it guarantee salvation? What happens if someone in his deathbed say the sinner's prayer?

I believe firmly in the saving grace of Christ, that whosoever believes in Him will live. But it will take more than just a few words to secure our lives in Him. It is faith, it is grace and it is abiding in Him and He is us.



  1. Interesting question. The sinner's prayer seems to me kind of a "closing the deal" device that has been developed as part of evangelistic techniques in the 19th and 20th centuries. It seems to me that a true prayer like that of the publican ("woe to me, a miserable sinner!") is an indication of the changed heart that the Spirit has wrought in the unbeliever, but it could take varied forms. We don't see in Acts where Stephen asks the Ethiopian eunuch to pray, for example. You can't base interpretation on what's NOT there so much, but the current "pray the prayer and be saved" emphasis seems man-made, not something you see in scripture.

    That said, my answer to "does praying it it guarantee salvation?" is "no." Only by the Holy Spirit can anyone say "Jesus is Lord." There were (and are) tares among the wheat who have walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, and been baptized, but are not saved because the Spirit has never worked in them. Remember, Judas fooled everybody! When he went out to betray Jesus Christ, everyone thought he was going out to buy something for the feast or make a donation to the poor.

    I do believe in deathbed conversions however, or I'd have to deny the genuineness of the conversion of the thief on the cross. God can save anyone, at any moment.

  2. Don't know about you, but this sinner prays everyday! Haha! That is what I think everytime I hear the term "sinner's prayer."

  3. Chip,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you. I like your reference to Judas - we will never know who is saved. Only God knows.

    I do believe in deathbed conversions however, or I'd have to deny the genuineness of the conversion of the thief on the cross. God can save anyone, at any moment.
    I am with you. It is just that one should not wait until his deathbed to want to believe in the Lord but there is never a closed door until it is too late.

  4. Missy,
    Thanks for your perspective :) yes, we must pray everday and it will indeed be a sinner's prayer.

  5. Baptists vote to keep the Sinner's Prayer...again

    Preuters News Agency

    Meeting today in London, a convention of the world's Baptists narrowly endorsed the continued use of the Sinner's Prayer as the hallmark act of Christian conversion. Here is the final draft of the convention's statement on this issue:

    "Baptists today again affirm the Sinner's Prayer as the act by which a sinner is justified before God. To be clear, it is not the recitation of the prayer itself that saves, nor is it necessary to endorse a set order of the words to be prayed, nor must the prayer be verbalized to others. What is necessary for salvation is this: A genuine, heartfelt prayer that 1.) acknowledges one's sinfulness and hopeless state of perdition before God 2.) cries out to God with true repentance of one's sins 3.) petitions God for his free gift of salvation 4.) asks Christ to indwell his heart/soul 5.) commits to abandoning his prior sinful lifestyle and promises to follow Christ and his righteousness."

    Controversy over this statement simmered for the entire three days of the convention. A group of younger Baptists from the developing world pushed for the removal of the Sinner's Prayer from the Baptist Statement of Faith, declaring that it was unscriptural and lacked any evidence of use in the Early Church. These young people read statements from the Early Church Fathers from the convention podium, noting that requiring a prayer (spoken or thought) for salvation was unheard of in the Early Church. This assertion created quite a stir as many of the older convention attendees were not accustomed to hearing appeals to the "catholic" Church Fathers as a source of authority for Baptist doctrine.

    The younger group put forward a new, brash, proposal as the new official Baptist Act of Christian Conversion:

    "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins."

    This proposal prompted outrage from the majority of convention attendees. One prominent Baptist pastor from the United States summed up the majority's sentiments by this statement:

    "Too Lutheran."