"The Sinner's Prayer" is a prayer that Christians say after repenting and believing in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.
It’s often associated with the moment of conversion into Christianity. Some confusion and misunderstandings have surfaced about what saving faith is and how one can be sure they're saved.
Today, we’re going to go over the sinner’s prayer and whether it truly brings us salvation.
Sinner's Prayer, also known as Consecration Prayer and Salvation Prayer, is an evangelical Christian term for any prayer of repentance. Individuals who feel that they've sinned are likely to use this prayer to restore or renew their relationship with God.
The basic version of the prayer goes like this: “Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I believe You died for my sins so I could be forgiven. I receive You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for coming into my life. Amen.”
A sinner's prayer demonstrates what a person understands and believes about sinfulness and salvation, but it's vital to remember that a sinner's prayer won’t achieve anything on its own.
Every year, millions of people are being told to say the sinner's prayer, and they'll be saved.
But is the sinner's prayer a truly meaningful way to salvation?
Oddly enough, the sinner’s prayer isn’t in the Bible at all.
A Baptist preacher and evangelist, Billy Graham popularized the sinner's prayer. For the last half-century, Billy Graham and other denominational evangelical preachers have taught millions of people that praying for forgiveness through the sinner’s prayer is the only way toward salvation.
A few Bible verses are used to justify the sinner's prayer, despite it not being mentioned anywhere in Scripture. For example, some religious leaders believe Acts 2:21 supports the argument that a person saying a sinner's prayer brings salvation.
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Another passage that's often cited in support of the sinner's prayer is Luke 18:13, "the tax collector beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'" But does this passage confirm a sinner's prayer as the only means of redemption?
If we look at the teachings of Jesus, He tells a different story.
“And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And once more, he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’” (John 8:7-11).
Jesus understood that because we are all capable of sin, we shouldn’t judge others for it. Because of this, we must understand that our journeys toward salvation require more than just prayer alone.
The road to salvation requires an active relationship with God and acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior. However, prayer is a good place to start when building that relationship.
A nice aspect of the sinner's prayer is that it expresses our Scriptural response to the word of God and allows us to share our faith and confession with Him.
When someone's eyes are opened to the Gospel, it's a good idea to encourage them to respond in prayer.
Here are three different versions of the sinner’s prayer.
Lord Jesus, this is my simple prayer to you. I know that I am a sinner and that I often fall short of the glory of God. No longer will I close the door when I hear You knocking. By faith, I gratefully receive Your gift of salvation. I'm ready to trust You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for coming to Earth. I believe You are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank You for Your forgiveness of sins and for giving me the gift of eternal life. I invite Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Dear God, this is my prayer of salvation. I know that I'm a sinner, and there's nothing I can do to save myself. But because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I can be saved. I confess my complete helplessness to forgive my own sin. At this moment, I trust Christ alone as the One who bore my sin when He died on the cross. He did all that will ever be necessary for me to stand in Your holy presence. Jesus is Lord and the gift of God. Because of Your grace, I'm born again. I'm grateful that You've promised to receive me despite my many sins and failures. Father, I take You at Your word. I thank You that I can face death now that You're my Savior. Thank You for the assurance that You'll walk with me through the deep valley. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You have I sinned and done what's evil in Your sight, so that You're proved right when You speak and justified when You judge. Surely I've been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I'll be clean, wash me, and I'll be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will turn back to You. Amen.
While the sinner’s prayer is a great tool to give our confession to God, we have to remember that it doesn’t absolve us of our sins. We have to put in the work after the fact, too.