The Sinners Prayer Part 3: Is It Necessary?

1 05 2014

Having seen many sad stories related to false conversions from the sinners prayer and seeing that the verses used to teach such a thing are taken out of context, and realizing there is no such example at all of anyone in the Bible being told to pray a prayer we now move on to ask an important question. Is the sinners prayer necessary? Once again I am not saying it’s wrong to pray at the time of salvation nor am I saying those who do are not truly saved.

It has become a culture in the church that this is the normal “plan of salvation” and it must accompany conversion. In the Bible we see many salvation’s but not one instance of anyone being led in a prayer or told to pray. Look at the message of John the Baptist.

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)

Look at the message of Jesus Christ.

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

Look at the message that Jesus told His disciples to preach.

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 10:7)

In all these instances not one time do we see the command to pray a prayer. Look at instances of salvation in the Bible. The Samaritan woman believed on Him but we see no prayer being said. The man born blind was asked if he believed on the Son of God but no walking him through a prayer. Consider John 1:49 where we see someone making a confession concerning Christ just as Romans 10:9-10 prescribes but it’s not a prayer. Consider John 9 where the confession of Christ would get people thrown out of the synagogue. This stands as further evidence the confession spoken of in Romans 10:9 is not a worded prayer.

In Acts 2:38 Peter calls on them to repent not to pray a prayer and verse 4 says they gladly received his word and were baptized with no prayer mentioned. In Acts 3:19 we again see a sermon where the command is to repent and in 4:4 we see about 5,000 believing with no mention of a prayer. In Acts 5:14 we see multitudes added to the Lord and no mention of a prayer. In Acts 8:37 the eunuch was asked if he believed but he was not walked through a prayer.

In Acts 9:42 it says many believed in the Lord but no mention of a prayer. In Acts 10:44 we see the Holy Spirit falling on the hearers while the sermon was being preached meaning their hearts were opened and they were saved without a prayer. In Acts 11:14 we see that it was by the preaching not a prayer they were saved.

“Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”

I could probably go on and on having not mentioned yet the jailer who asked what he must do to be saved and the answer was not pray and accept Christ but believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Believing on Christ may be evident by a prayer but the prayer is not a sign of true conversion nor is it necessary for it. In all of these instances it would have been easy for the Scriptures to mention a prayer at least once but in every case it is silent on such an issue. The silence of the Bible is something we cannot ignore. So why is praying to be saved so widespread in the church today if the Bible doesn’t even mention it or give an example? The answer is traditions.

I know a man who was saved in prison. He got a Bible and began to read it. Through reading it his eyes were opened, he believed God and felt his burdens melt away. He found out where the Christians met and identified himself as one. He was as far as I can tell soundly saved at that moment. The problem is that he got out of jail and went to a church who convinced him that if he did not know a time and place that he prayed and accepted Christ then he wasn’t saved. He went forward and “got saved.” The problem is that his actual salvation experience in jail is closer to what we see in the Bible then his secondary one.

My grandmother in her testimony told of how she was saved. She noted that she didn’t walk the aisle, no prayers were prayed. As the Pastor taught in Sunday School she said it was like a light dawned in her soul and her eyes were opened. She felt her burdens melt away and left with the joy of the Lord. Her whole life changed which of course is the fruit of salvation.

I went to church with a man who said that one Saturday night he decided to be saved. He believed the Gospel and his heart was turned to God. He went on to say that the next day he went to church and got saved. I tried to tell him brother you were saved on Saturday night when you accepted the Gospel and trusted the Lord. He insisted that it was Sunday when he went and prayed to receive Christ. This my friends is the problem. We are adding unBiblical works on top of genuine salvation experiences.

George Mueller of Bristol tells of his salvation that he attended a Bible study and as someone else prayed he felt all of his burdens melt away and left a new person even though he didn’t pray at all. Billy Graham’s salvation happened at a tent revival. He felt the grasp of the Holy Spirit on his soul and he believed all that the preacher had said. He walked forward as others did and the preacher prayed over the whole group but there was no personal prayer. His life was changed though a sign of true conversion.

H.A. Ironside believed on the Lord but ran from God and tried living in the world. While at a party Scripture verses kept coming to mind and he could have no fun. When laying in bed he told the Lord that he believed His promises he said, “because thou hast said so I have eternal life.” This prayer was not a prayer asking for Christ to save him but a declaration that he believed the Word of God and was thus saved.

I was reading the conversion of missionary C.T. Studd. He heard the Gospel at a D.L. Moody crusade and responded. While on his knees Moody knelt beside him and asked if he believed Jesus died for him. When he answered that he did Moody said, “Well, thank Him for it.” With that he got up and went on to the next person. That prayer was also not the kind of prayer we encourage today.

Many walk an aisle and pray a prayer because they are looking for a magic potion or quick fix and never get saved. Others walk the aisle out of conviction of sin. These I say are already saved before they even step out of the pew. They have repentance meaning they have changed their mind about their sin and they have faith which is to say they believe that Jesus died for their sins. That is what the Bible calls salvation.

Let sinners express it as they will whether to thank God, or ask Him to save, or whether they just want to skip the prayer and make a public profession and be baptized. We often judge the unsaved as saved by the prayer they prayed and tell those truly saved they must jump this hurdle to be saved.

A person may pray a prayer when they are saved or they may not. They may pray and ask Christ to save them or simply thank Him for dying for them. There is no cookie cutter way to salvation except by faith that is believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. That may manifest itself in various ways but we need to stop seeing those manifestations as the end in themselves. We need to stop urging people to pray to be saved and encourage them to believe the Gospel. We also need to stop insisting people are saved simply because they repeated or said a few words when they have no real desire to follow Christ. In part 4 of this series we will ask if the sinners prayer is dangerous.

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