Where Would You Find the Sinner’s Prayer in Scriptures?

Those who want to be saved must move toward God in an obedient faith. In (Hebrews 11:6) we read, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Genuine faith is produced when man inclines his mind to God’s instructions i.e. His word, which in turn points him towards God, and he who fears Yahweh and works righteousness (obeying His commandments) will be found acceptable before Him (Acts 10:35; Psalms 119:172).

Students of the Bible understand that sin creates a gap between God and man (Isaiah 59:2), and in order to be saved, man must be forgiven. A dangerous misconception that is widely accepted by the religious world concerning how one is saved from sin, is that the alien sinner must say, what is commonly known by many as the “sinner’s prayer.” When Bible students make an honest appeal to diligently investigate the scriptures regarding salvation, it will become apparent that there is no reference to the “sinner’s prayer” or the recitation of such.  We do not find Jesus or the apostles commanding such doctrine.

What is the “sinner’s prayer” any way? Growing up following the Baptist doctrine, I once believed that it was a prayer that a believer prayed, asking God to come into his heart. Among denominations the verbiage may vary to some degree, which is interesting enough; one would think that the language of this prayer would be uniform among denominations.

 Here is what might be said:

  • “Dear God, I know that my sin has separated me from you. Thank you Jesus for dying in my place. I ask you Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart, my life. I give myself fully to you, take control of my life. Thank you for giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name Amen.”
  • “God, I am a sinner. I believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for me. I want to be saved. I want Jesus to come into my heart and be the Lord of my Life. Please forgive me of my sins. Wash me clean. Thank you, Lord, for saving me and washing my sins away.”

In the Bible, we do read about unsaved men praying; however, their prayers did not save them. While traveling on the road to Damascus, with the intent of pursuing the disciples of Christ, Saul met the Messiah, and he was told to go into the city, and there he would be told what he needed to do (Acts 9:3-8). As Saul awaited further instructions, the Scriptures reveal that he went without food for three days, blind, and he was praying (Acts 9:5-6,11, 17-18; 22:10-16). Notice when Ananias arrived, the preacher commanded Saul to, “Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). The preacher commanded Saul to be baptized in order to wash away his sins, not render a sinner’s prayer. Although Saul saw the resurrected Christ, repented, fasted, and prayed, it is clearly proven that his prayer did not save him.

Cornelius was a man of prayer; Acts 10:2 says he, “prayed to God regularly.” However, the angel of the Lord commanded Peter to go to Cornelius’ house, and speak words, whereby he and his household would be saved (Acts 11:14). Within the message preached, Peter did not command Cornelius and his household to recite a “sinner’s prayer,” nor do the Scriptures teach that he was saved by prayer. Peter, the same preacher who commanded Jews to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, in the like manner commanded Cornelius and his household to be baptized whereby they could be saved (Acts 10:48; 2:38; Matthew 26:28; Mark 16:15-16).

 In every case of conversion recorded in the book of Acts, of people obtaining salvation, it was not through a “sinner’s prayer.” Prayer is a blessing for the child of God (Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 5:16), and the erring child, like in the example of Simon the sorcerer, who had fallen victim to sin once again, was commanded to “repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you (Acts 8:18-25; Galatians 5:4; 2 Peter 2:20, 17).

Man does not need to ask God to forgive him; He has already made provision for the forgiveness of sins possible by sending His Son (John 3:16). Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7). The Holy Spirit revealed God’s will to mankind (Ephesians 3:3-5) and when one makes the decision to be obedient to the gospel call, he must respond to this call, by believing the gospel (John 8:24), repenting of sins (Acts 17:30), confessing Christ (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9; Acts 8:36-38) and submitting to the order to be baptized (Act 22:16; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Will you respond to His call today (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 1 Thessalonians 2:13)?

 Fred Singleton