“Sinner’s Prayer” Controversy: My Response

What better to post on a Sunday than something having to do with salvation? 

As much as I love monkey videos and sarcastic responses to political idiocy, those things have little relevance if they never point people to Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

I am writing this on Saturday morning and scheduling it to be posted on Sunday. The reason I am writing it is because I was just notified of a “like” to a comment I made EXACTLY a year ago today (Saturday) on another blog, The River Walk.

Subject: The “Sinner’s Prayer.” Is it biblical or unbiblical? Should it be encouraged or banned? Can it be effective, or is it as David Platt called it, “superstitious” and “damning”?

The following was and is my response:

Where do I start? Where do I end? I’m a Baptist. I’m a Baptist pastor. I prayed the “prayer” as a child. I am born again. I have given altar calls. I have invited others to pray the “prayer” during invitations. There’s no way I can know who was born again…or not; only God knows. However, I can tell you about fruit.

No, the prayer doesn’t save; Jesus does. But what I see so often today is an attempt by many to belittle, malign, berate, and denigrate something that is precious and effective if presented in context with the true gospel message. I have seen it so many times: young, intellectual, up-and-coming theologians stirring up strife within the body of Christ, all the while holding on to the banner of grace, attempting to change, as if change itself was something divine. Why not accept the “sinners prayer” with a little more grace and along with it teach the fundamental doctrines on which it depends to be effective?

We ARE commanded to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved (Rom. 10:13). Is it not a “sinner’s prayer” when a sinner prays for salvation? Yes, I believe that there have been many false conversions brought about by head-hunting preachers and evangelists leading silent, congregational “sinner’s prayers.” That is why when I give an invitation I always explain that true salvation will result in public confession (Matt. 10:32-33). In other words, I never say “Pray with me…” and then ask people to come forward. I say that if one is truly repentant, truly understands his need of new birth, truly finds himself humbled at the foot of the cross, then he will have no problem coming to an altar, making a public profession, and then being baptized.

So, to sum this up…sorry for the length…I was saved at the age of 6 (I’m 47) when I realized that I was a sinner, was going to hell, and that the only way to heaven was to accept God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t have been able to recite the Apostle’s Creed, the Baptist Faith and Message, or even the Ten Commandments, but I knew I was lost. My dad led me to a little Sunday school room where we knelt at a little table, and it was there that my dad, a humble, former moonshiner, led me in the “sinner’s prayer,” because I didn’t know any better way to say what was in my little heart. That was the day I was saved, and I thank God my dad prayed with me.

That’s my 2 cents.

Do you disagree? That’s fine; it was only 2 cents. I am His, and He is mine, and that’s what matters.



Filed under Prayer, salvation, Southern Baptist, Uncategorized

2 responses to ““Sinner’s Prayer” Controversy: My Response

  1. Good stuff for a Sunday morning. Your comment was great.

    If a person believes that saying the Sinner’s prayer has saved them, they likely have a problem.

    On the other hand, if a person says those words as a way of organizing what is in their heart, then why does somebody have a problem with that? I mean seriously. Look, when I was saved i knew NOTHING. I just knew I was in trouble, and Jesus had a solution. If not for some prayer, I simply would not have had the words to communicate that and even to understand what was happening to me.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  2. Mary

    As you know, I am now a Catholic but I accepted Christ through the gift of an altar call. Yes you are right, the prayer doesn’t save, Jesus does, but it provides a Dorothy Boyd (Jerry Maguire) type of moment, “Who’s coming with me.” I knew that by going forward I couldn’t turn back, and although they may not be “in the bible” there are a million ways that God calls us that are not specifically in the bible, I believe the two are completely unrelated. I treasure the day I went up and accepted Christ and for me, it wouldn’t and couldn’t have happened any other way because that was God’s plan for me. Just my 2 cents also 🙂

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