The “Sinner’s Prayer” is a popular term used in Protestant and Evangelical Christian circles. It refers to any form of prayer that conveys repentance and the desire to start or form a relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.
For most preachers and Christians, they see the Sinner’s Prayer as the defining moment of one’s salvation. The moment you prayed this prayer, you are saved. But is this belief biblically accurate? Does the Bible support the idea that you will be saved when you pray a certain prayer — like a “password” to God’s Kingdom?
What Exactly Is the Sinner’s Prayer?
There are a lot of variations to the Sinner’s Prayer. But in most cases, a person is to pray after a suggested model or pre-written prayer. The Sinner’s Prayer includes an admission of sin, the acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice, and a petition for Jesus to come into their lives.
Here’s an example of a Sinner’s Prayer by one of the most popular evangelists, Billy Graham:
Dear Lord Jesus,
I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.
In Your Name,
The use of the Sinner’s Prayer is a common practice among Protestant denominations, Anglicans, Lutherans, Fundamentalists, and Evangelicals. There are different instances when the Sinner’s Prayer is recited. Most commonly, it is done as a part of the “altar call,” at the end of a worship service. The worship leader would call on everyone to accept Jesus Christ into their lives and become “born again.” He will then utter words that the audience should repeat after him.
Another common way the Sinner’s Prayer is uttered is when televangelists ask viewers to pray it. Others would even ask viewers to touch their TV screen while praying the Sinner’s Prayer.
Some people who have lived a sinful life but have recited the Sinner’s Prayer on their deathbed are even considered to be saved in the nick of time.
Does the Sinner’s Prayer Really Work?
If you believe that uttering the Sinner’s Prayer alone can save you — like most Christians would love to believe — then you are making a fatal mistake. This satanic deception has made a lot of people complacent about their salvation. Because of this false belief, they don’t take their Christian calling seriously enough. Yes, because of this belief, so many people live and act as their own god and just “repent” and recite the Sinner’s Prayer when they feel like they don’t have enough time left on this earth.
While the Sinner’s Prayer may sound effective, it is not. Saying a Sinner’s Prayer does not accomplish anything if it does not lead to genuine repentance and conversion. Believing that a Sinner’s Prayer alone can save you cheapens and insults the great sacrifice Christ has made for us.
What Must We Do Then?
Of course, we all need to recognize that we are sinners in need of a Savior to gain eternal life. However, that is just the start. The Apostle Peter urges us:
Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…
[COMMENT: The Greek word for “repent” is metanoeo (Strong’s number G3340), which means to change one’s mind for the better, or to heartily amend with abhorrence one’s past sins.]
To “repent” means more than feeling sorry. It means a literal 180-degree change of life direction from sin to righteousness. However, the process of conversion lasts our whole lifetime — it doesn’t all happen overnight. So the Sinner’s Prayer — if prayed sincerely — is just the beginning, and it shouldn’t be the only thing you ever do as a Christian.
Remember, we are not Christians because of what we know, but what we do with what we know (James 1:22). Our belief in God and Christ must be accompanied with the evident change in our lives (James 2:26).