What is the Sinners Prayer?

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What is the sinners prayer for salvation and forgiveness? This is perhaps the most important question you will ever ask. How you respond to the gift of salvation through Jesus will affect your life both now and through eternity.

Note: The following prayer is listed on the website ourkingdomculture.com. There are different versions of this prayer used by various organizations and evangelists. We will use this as a representative version.

DEAR GOD, I KNOW THAT I AM A SINNER, AND I ASK YOU TO PLEASE FORGIVE MY SINS. I BELIEVE IN MY HEART THAT JESUS IS YOUR SON; THAT HE DIED FOR ME ON A CROSS AND YOU RAISED HIM BACK TO LIFE. JESUS, I DECLARE THAT YOU ARE MY LORD AND I OPEN MY HEART TO YOU. CHANGE ME AND HELP ME TO FOLLOW YOU ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE. HELP ME TO BE MORE LIKE YOU AND TO DO YOUR WILL.

IN JESUS’S NAME, I PRAY. AMEN 

What is the Sinners Prayer

Some Christian circles recommend that anyone who wants to be saved should pray this prayer. If they do, they are converted (many acknowledge that it’s not a conversion formula, meaning the person must really believe and mean what they’re saying). The following are reasons some like this prayer:

  • They believe this prayer is the best way to have someone come to faith in Jesus. 
  • They believe it contains all the vital information needed for conversion. 
  • Many organizations have adopted this prayer, so it can be used cooperatively among Christians with various beliefs. 
  • When Christians mention The Sinner’s Prayer most Christians know what it is. Sometimes Christians us it to count conversions or to confirm that someone has, in fact, been converted.

So, the human responsibility in conversion is to say this prayer and mean it.

There is strong opposition to having someone pray this prayer in other Christian circles. Their main objection is that it’s not Biblical in several ways. Some are listed below:

  • No place in the Bible asks someone to pray to receive salvation.
  • No place in the Bible tells anyone to ask Jesus into their heart.
  • It complicates the simple message of salvation. Since someone can’t do anything to deserve salvation, they must depend on Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Salvation is received by faith in Jesus’ Name, plus nothing. 
  • Some would say it confuses what a person must do to be converted with what someone should do after conversion to be more like Christ, confusing initial salvation with ongoing sanctification. 
  • Some would point out that the gospel of John is the one book of the Bible written to unbelievers to bring them to faith in Jesus for eternal life. And it doesn’t include any of the commitments listed in The Sinner’s Prayer (John 1:12; 20:31): These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

So, with those who object to the prayer, the human responsibility is to believe. 

Note: Some may add repentance, either as a synonym of faith or that you must repent of your sins, or they require good works along with faith to prove the person’s faith is genuine–and there are other additions also). 

Note: The discussion in this article is representative of some of the leading views on this issue. To include them all is beyond the scope of this article.

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