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the sinners prayer for salvation

Updated on March 1, 2012

The Sinner's Prayer

I have noticed a rise in criticism of the Sinner's Prayer. Critics usually cite the absence of an example in the Bible, and refer to neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever having used it. This then becomes the precedent to argue against using it. "Well, if it's not in the Bible, it's not scriptural, therefore it should not be done". Another statement I have read, and heard says that "just by saying one prayer does not automatically make someone a Christian", or similar. It sounds so "right" that one could be excused for agreeing with this view.

Whilst I fully understand where this idea could be seen as correct, I also see it as very limited, and extreemly narrow in its scope. I agree, that a simple prayer such as this can not save a person, I have to say that it is also true that it can. It does and it always will. It worked for me. Now, I don't base my assertion on JUST my own experience. That would be way too subjective, and even narrow minded. But I will say that there are conditions to saying the sinners prayer.

For those who don't know what the sinners prayer is, here is a sample of it.

"Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son. I believe He died on the cross for my sin. I repent of my sin, and ask you to forgive me. I believe You raised Jesus from the dead, and I receive Him now as my personal Savior and Lord. Thank you that My name is written in the Lambs Book of Life, and I know that when I die, I will be with you in Heaven for all eternity. Amen"

Now the words are not ritualistic in the sense that these are EXACTLY the words to use. One can just cry out "God , HELP!", "Jesus save me", or whatever expresses a cry from the heart to God.

Argument against

The argument against the prayer, as outlined above, seems to be two-fold.

  1. There are no examples of it in the Bible, and
  2. One simple prayer cannot save someone.

I will deal with these in order.

1. There are no examples of such a "model" prayer, so it should not be implemented. This is not exactly correct. True, there is no actual example, but the word "repent" is used. Jesus started His Earthly ministry with the cry "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand ..." (Matt. 3:2 as just one example) It is found in several places. It is a call to ACTION. Repent simply means stop, turn around and go in the opposite direction. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a specific moment in time. A call to action, NOW. Not gradually, over a long period of time.

You have to be able to say, "I turned at midday, on the 3rd of January, and started my journey following after Jesus" It is SPECIFIC. In another incident, Jesus taught Nicodemus, that a man must be born again. That certainly is not a gradual process (relatively speaking). We all have a birthday. Our mother will usually remember the hour. So, it is not against logic and reason to conclude that though there is no example, it is consistent with the overall teachings of the Bible. To ask someone to pray, which should include the action of repentance will therefore be a specific event in their life. They will be able to look back and "point to the day" it happened.

There are other doctrines and teachings that are also NOT mentioned in the Bible, yet we do not challenge them as wrong. (of course some do challenge these as well).These would be. the Rapture. That word is often used, but it's not mentioned in the Bible. The Trinity is another. We talk about, and teach about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, (the Trinity), without having ever seen the word in the Bible.

2. One simple prayer cannot save.

This also has some merrit, but is incomplete. I agree that a person mouthing some form of the sinners prayer is way too simplistic to "assure" salvation. There are two aspects to this. One is the assumption that it is not possible, and the other is that it requirers a change in the person for it to be real. I say, it is indeed possible.

I am an example of the prayer working. Before I prayed, I was one person, and after I prayed, I was another person. Not that my individual personality changed, but that I become something/someone on the inside that was TOTALLY new. I was Born of the Spirit, and I KNEW it. Now, this is not an isolated example. I am surrounded and accompanied by millions of individuals who all have a story that may be unique, but share the same commonality.

Though the prayer was very short, the result was (and still is) a long, and ongoing walk. It was merely the STARTING POINT. Change does come, and fruit of salvation begin to develop, but the point is that there was a starting moment. It was at the time of praying the prayer. Suppose that a person does not have time to somehow grow and display the virtues of Christian character needed, for them to be "recognised" as born again, or a true follower of Christ. Would salvation be unavailable to them. Of course not. If an old person, on their deathbed, repented, and said the sinners prayer, would they not be saved?

The reality is that they WOULD be saved, because of the heart attitude.

In Conclusion

The heart of the matter is this.

Salvation is God's business. He is the One who does the saving. Not you, not me, not the pastor or the evangelist. We are merely vessels that God uses to bring others closer to Himself. In doing so, we lead those who are ready to make the decision to follow after Jesus Christ, to Him. We lead them in prayer. We should also continue to lead and disciple, and train and teach after that. It does not stop with just praying.

But then there are things that we cannot do. We cannot make that person believe, nor make them be genuine. We can't make them "mean it". It's something only they alone can do. But, at the same time, we can't really know what IS going on inside them. But God does. He is the One who decides whether or not the pray-er of the simnners prayer is actually born again, or "faking it". Not our business anyway. It's between God and the other person.

Now, time will (usually) demonstrate to us, whether or not they were genuine. But that's another issue.


For those of you that are more visual, here's a clip from you know where.


I don't know this guy, but I have listened to what he says etc. It's good. 

I like it because it's short and to the point. Blessings.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      My Grandmother had a worry box...she would open this pretty litlte tin every night and caress the velvet lining. Then she would explain to any inquisitive child standing nearby that it was where she placed her worries of the day so that God could handle it. This brought back a memory so vivid that I had to share it with you...thanks for the memory!hugsSandi

    • aka-dj profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia



    • profile image

      Phillip Burt 

      8 years ago

      Your sinners prayer has a spelling mistake;

      "Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son. I believe He "dided"(died) on the cross for my sin

    • aka-dj profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      @ Jonathan chm

      Thanks for commenting Jonathan. I appreciate your reply, but I will not publish it here.

      I find it's way too long, and somewhat irrelevant. I suggest you copy this to a Hub of your own, if you want it published, and read.

      My apologies, if this upsets you.


    • aka-dj profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      Hi lcg4jc (that's a mouthful)

      Thanks for the read and the comment.

      I have heard of Wayne, but have never seen him before. It was a "fluke" that I picked his video, but I liked it a lot. Maybe now I know why. I also have been a part of Foursquare for a period of time.


    • lcg4jc profile image


      9 years ago

      aka-dj. I believe the person in the video is Wayne Cordeiro he is affiliated with International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. He is the pastor of New Hope Church in Hawaii. He is sound in his doctrine and is a wonderful teacher. God bless you for the hub, I enjoyed reading it very much. I do agree with lifegate that it is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that saves, "there is life in the blood" With that said I believe Romans 10:9 ,10 is the perfect example of the reason for the sinners prayer being used as the first step in faith. "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

    • zzron profile image


      9 years ago from Houston, TX.

      This was so good and presented really well. I liked the video, Very approachable.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      There are numerous doctrines taught by theologians who claim to be minsters of the gospel but who do not have biblical proof for those creeds or doctrines they teach.

    • Team Wiseman profile image

      Team Wiseman 

      9 years ago

      Excellent. Very well put here. We also believe the same thing of the sinners prayer. It is not enough, but it is a seed that we plant into ourselves, beginning the personal journey to Heavens gates, thus waging a war upon ourselves. Again, a great hub. May God Bless You and your writings. Amen.

    • aka-dj profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Australia

      Thanks lifegate. I think I made the same point in my Hub. Faith and grace, it is a gift from God, that saves, not a prayer. But the prayer of faith has a part to play.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      9 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      I like to use the sinner's prayer in witnessing, however one thing bothers me about it. I have seen many people pray the prayer, but there is no true repentance. The prayer in and of itself is not what saves. It is the shed blood of Jesus Christ which brings a change of heart--faith and repentance in the life. Still, I like to use it to help them solidify their decision for Christ.

    • aka-dj profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      Hello, and thank you everyone.

      I appreciate every one of you for taking the time to read my Hub, but also in commenting.

      It is very encouraging.

      Blessings right back @ y'all. :-)

    • Property-Invest profile image


      10 years ago from London

      A very sound communication of the reality of the Gospel. Great hub!

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 

      10 years ago from Texas

      I do not particularly like the Sinners Prayer because it seems too trite...too formatted. However, it is a starting point and if it helps people come to God it is a useful tool.

      "Prayer is a great gift. Through prayer you find your place in the universe. Your wounds are healed. Your soul is comforted. You find unity with God." quote from my book about intercessory prayer, Walk In The Light.

      Great discussion, as always!

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 

      10 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Nice dissecting here. Your conclusion is key. Thanks.

    • MBP42 profile image


      10 years ago from have received my official license as a Pastor, praise God

      Scripture clearly teaches that no man comes to the father but by the son. The word further teaches that salvation comes with the proclamation of Jesus as Lord and Savior. I believe that is where we get the concept of the sinners prayer from. Nice writing.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Prayer is vital - it changes me and rises up to God as sweet smelling incense

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 

      10 years ago from Roseville, CA

      I think your hub is very well written. The person getting saved must pray to God, whether it be in private or in public ~ either way he must also confess his faith publicly, according to the Word. God will not hear that sinner's prayer unless his heart sincerely believes. That saving faith comes by hearing the Word of God, so many times people are converted in a gathering of believers and should not put off getting saved and making that public confession. God bless you :-)

    • aka-dj profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Australia

      Thanks JD.

      I'm not sure you are agreeing with me or not,but the scriptures you gave also affirm the crux of this Hub.

      When a person "believes with the heart, and confesses with the mouth"..speaks of prayer.

      Salvation, or being born again is an act in a moment time.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      @ thevoice.

      Sorry, but your cryptic comment is a little confusing. I could understand several ways, but here it is anyway.


    • thevoice profile image


      10 years ago from carthage ill

      amazing write well read thanks Forgiving of God Jesus is a lifetime from sin to death to human crosses carry God for all these

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 

      10 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Prayer is communication with God Himself, made possible only by the shed blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ ~ God in the flesh. The Lord says we are to confess Him before men so He will also confess us as His own. Whether someone prays to God privately or in the presence of another, His confession of faith to God first, and then to others will solidify His acceptance by the Lord...but it truly is a matter of faith...the heart.

      Romans 10:10 "for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

      See, God does not hear sinners (John 9:31), so our hearts must truly believe in order for Him to hear us and save us.

      Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

      Jesus said in Mat 10:32 "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven." And in Luke 12:8 "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God."


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