The Sinner's Prayer

Many religious groups, to supposedly lead someone into a saved relationship with God, have people pray something referred to as "the sinner's prayer." There are different models used for this prayer, but typically, it contains an acknowledgment of contrition and repentance, a request of God for forgiveness and renewal, and a commitment to a more spiritually focused life. A sample of such a prayer might be something like this; "Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died to forgive my sins and rose from the dead. I turn away from my sins and ask you to come into my heart and life. I commit myself to following you as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name, amen."

 While this is a popular method used to convince people they are saved, it is conspicuously absent from the pages of the New Testament. There is no scripture where a person was told to pray such a prayer to be saved. There are no examples of anyone praying such a prayer to be converted and saved. This is important, as we must have God's authority for such a practice, as salvation is from God, offered through His Son. Paul reminded Timothy, "Every scripture is inspired of God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto ever good work' (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

 So, what does scripture reveal about God's plan of salvation? What is it God tells us to do that we might have the forgiveness He offers us through Jesus, the gift of salvation? As mentioned, it begins with the word of God. "So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith is defined as the "assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). From the word comes faith, believing scripture to be the very word of God, inspired, inerrant, the truth of God as it reveals His dealings and will for humanity. "And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him" (Hebrews 11:6).

 From faith comes repentance, changing one's mind and heart from sin to obey God and live for Him. Jesus said, "Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish" (Luke 13:3). One must confess one's faith in Jesus as well, one's belief that He is the Son of God. "Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). While typically denied, one must also be baptized, immersed, into Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Peter by inspiration also said, "Which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ' (1 Peter 3:21).

 This is what God tells one to do in His holy word to find salvation through the blood of Christ. Nowhere do you find anyone repeating "the sinner's prayer" and being considered saved in the pages of scripture. Scripture possesses God's authority; by it, we can have confidence we please Him and have confidence of life in Him. Which do you trust; what God has said, or what man has contrived?

 Robert Johnson, Longview, TX