What Is the Sinner’s Prayer?


In Christian circles, the “Sinner’s Prayer” usually refers to a non-Christian’s preliminary prayer of repentance and religion within the dying, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; thus, it’s usually related to the second of conversion into the Christian religion. In some circumstances, nonetheless, it has created some confusion and misunderstanding concerning the character of saving religion and one’s assurance of salvation. 

Confessing With Your Mouth

The message of the Gospel is the message of Jesus, God in flesh, who lived an ideal life, died on a cross as a fee for sins, and was bodily raised from the lifeless. Now, Christ “instructions all individuals in every single place to repent” (Act 17:30) and place their religion and belief in his work alone for the forgiveness of sins.

The Bible says that saving religion is a repentant religion (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:37-38; 1 Thess 1:9-10), involving psychological assent to the reality of the Gospel (Rom 10:7), a conviction of 1’s determined want for the free present of salvation, and a yielded belief within the individual and work of Jesus Christ as each Savior and Lord. This response is simply doable by the grace of God (Eph 2:8-9).

The affiliation between this preliminary second of saving religion and a spoken prayer finds help in Romans 10:9-10, “in case you confess along with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and consider in your coronary heart that God raised him from the lifeless, you’ll be saved. For with the center one believes and is justified, and with the mouth on confesses and is saved.” Just a few verses later we learn the assure, “For everybody who calls on the title of the Lord might be saved” (v. 13).

In Luke 18, we learn Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, who’re each praying within the temple. Whereas the Pharisee’s prayer is crammed with conceitedness, satisfaction, and boastfulness, the tax collector’s prayer is one among humble repentance: “However the tax collector, standing far off, wouldn’t even raise up his eyes to heaven, however beat his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” Jesus concludes, “I inform you, this man went all the way down to his home justified, relatively than the opposite” (vv. 13-14). This “Sinner’s Prayer” was considered by Jesus because the prayer of saving religion, ensuing within the man’s justification.

So, inasmuch because the time period “Sinner’s Prayer” refers back to the prayer of repentant religion from the center of a convicted sinner, it’s a very biblical idea. Nevertheless, what is usually the favored understanding of the “Sinner’s Prayer” will be harmful

“Repeat After Me”

“The Sinner’s Prayer” is usually diminished (maybe not deliberately, however virtually) to a formulaic, repeat-after-me strategy towards conversion. In lots of church settings, the prayer itself is taken into account everything and assurance of salvation. In different phrases, so long as somebody prays the correct phrases of the “Sinner’s Prayer” and “actually means it,” he can relaxation assured that he’s saved.

Contemplate a prototypical instance:

Jimmy is an 8-year-old boy listening to a fiery evangelist preach on the horrors of hell. On the conclusion of the service, an invite is given to return ahead and settle for Jesus. Not desirous to go to hell, Jimmy goes ahead and talks to the pastor. The pastor sits Jimmy down and says, “If you wish to be saved from hell, repeat these phrases after me: Expensive Jesus…I’m a sinner… I consider in what you probably did for me on the cross… Please come into my life and save me…in Jesus title, Amen.”

Jimmy repeats these phrases and opens his eyes. The pastor says, “Reward the Lord, you’re saved! Now, everytime you doubt your salvation, bear in mind this present day and the choice you made. Write it in your Bible so that you simply’ll always remember you prayed this prayer.”

Why is that this an issue?

As a result of it’s basing one’s confidence and hope, not in Christ himself, however in a degree of choice. It’s equating saving religion, not with a seamless, persevering religion (1 Cor 15:1-2), however with a recited prayer spoken up to now.

One creator who helped promote and set up this view as soon as mentioned that if a believer is doubting his salvation, he should “notice the very day and hour of such a choice after which consider within the choice itselfsufficient to thank God for His saving grace and faithfulness, and in each thought, act and phrase thereafter deal with the choice as remaining and actual [emphasis mine].” [1.]

Prayer-less Conversions within the Bible

What is useful in regards to the “Sinner’s Prayer” is that it boils down the Scriptural response one will need to have towards the Gospel and offers him a chance to voice his perception and confession to God. Because of this, I consider it’s a superb factor to encourage somebody whose eyes are opened to the Gospel to reply in prayer to God. Nevertheless, there are a lot of examples within the Bible the place individuals come to a saving information of Christ with out repeating a formulaic “Sinner’s Prayer” or writing a date of their Bible.

  • The response of the thief on the cross was a easy “Jesus, bear in mind me whenever you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

  • The Ethiopian eunuch, after being evangelized by Philip, believed the Gospel and mentioned, “What prevents me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36).

  • When the Philippian jailer requested Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what should I do to be saved,” they didn’t say, “Repeat after me”; they merely mentioned, “Imagine within the Lord Jesus, and you’ll be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Assurance of Salvation

I worry that there are a lot of professing Christians on the market who place their assurance of salvation in a “Sinner’s Prayer” after they had been 5 years outdated, whereas they exhibit no proof of perception in Christ. They’re clinging to a prayer, to not Christ.

Christian, a prayer doesn’t prevent—Jesus does. In case you consider in who he’s and what he has executed, putting all of your hope and confidence in him alone, then you’re saved by his grace. Reward God for his wonderful Gospel!

The Creator’s Testimony

There was a time in my life once I prayed a “Sinner’s Prayer.” And I consider that it was at that second that Christ graciously saved me. Nevertheless, I don’t bear in mind when it was, the place I used to be, what I mentioned, or who I used to be with. However that isn’t the supply of my assurance. My hope isn’t positioned in one thing I prayed 20 years in the past. My confidence isn’t sourced in one thing I as soon as believed—it’s sourced in Christ, the one in whom I believed, proceed to consider, and can consider. My confidence is sourced within the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, who “bears witness our spirit that we’re kids of God” (Rom 8:16) and produces his fruit in my life as proof of latest beginning (1 John). 

Aaron Berry is a author at Pursuing the Pursuer, a Christian weblog dedicated to offering sources with sound theology, sensible reality, and devotional fervor. Aaron has a BA and MA from Bob Jones College and an MDiv at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. He, his spouse, and two youngsters reside in Lincoln Park, MI, the place Aaron serves as a pastoral assistant at Inter-Metropolis Baptist Church and because the recruiter at DBTS. You’ll be able to observe his weblog on Fb, Twitter, and Instagram.

1. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Salvation (Philadelphia: Sunday Faculty Occasions, 1922), 80.

Photograph Credit score: GettyImages/shironosov


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