An alternative to the sinner's prayer
What is the Biblical response a person should make?

An alternative to the sinner's prayer

"whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:21

This article is adapted from our article: "When you ask us to print your own Gospel tract design.... A general over all guide"

Many Gospel tracts today often end with a "sinner's prayer" - but is it correct to have this? Some make a very bold statement - "If you have prayed this prayer, you are now saved."

I hope I can illustrate my thoughts on this with a testimony from a conversation I had with a young man on the street in Manchester a number of years ago.

I met this man who saw I was with a street preacher. He came up to me and asked me if -he- was a Christian. I asked why he asked that question. To which he replied that he was at the same spot as we were stood, some time ago, and someone told him to pray a prayer. After which, they said that he was now a Christian. 

Not long after, he said he took his girlfriend to an abortion clinic and they ended the life of their child in the womb. This was a very difficult conversation. I was praying to the Lord to give me the right words to say while we talked. I challenged him about this sin, saying that he had his part to play in the murder of the child and that this was not God's will. I then asked him, "do you know why you need Jesus?" To which he replied "No." 

The fact is, he believed until that moment that he might be a Christian - yet his conscience plagued him and he was clearly not saved.

There are a great many people who will easily lead a person in a similar prayer (or write one out for a person to repeat), without explaining why they need Jesus. The person then goes on to live a life thinking they are Christian (it's muh nicer to the flesh to continue sinning against God too). Worse still, why would they later listen to anyone else who says that they need to repent of their sins and have faith in Christ (when in their mind it is as simple as praying a prayer)? 

There are many reasons why professing Christians do this, one of which I believe is that they prefer (and it is easier), to walk by sight and not by faith. They want to have a visible response when they speak with people (or increase numbers in a church), so they will sooner pray and announce a person saved, than walk by faith that God changes that person's heart in God's perfect timing (read John chapter 3).

But my big concern is the idea that praying a certain prayer will be seen as what saves a person (not the work of God Himself). This idea is not found anywhere in the Bible. There is no guarantee someone will be saved if they simply pray a prayer or repeat some certain words. If this were true, I would have simply knocked on the door of every house for the rest of my life and asked everyone to pray that prayer with me.

Please note: I am not saying a person cannot be saved by saying a prayer. Because the scriptures are very clear, that whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13).

But, we can read of how God Himself converts a person - causing them to be born again - in John chapter 3:6-8 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

So we can see here at the beginning of the scripture, that nothing of the flesh can bring about that new birth in a person (just as much as we had no part in our own birth) - so a prayer we put together for someone won't do it in and of itself.

Then it goes on to say in the rest of the verse, that we can't tell which way the Spirit works (like we can't tell where the wind comes from and where it goes) when it comes to everyone that is born of the Spirit.

A sinner's prayer can cause a great amount of damage in a person's life and more importantly to the name of the Lord Jesus Himself. It is not what we find in the scriptures.

What could be used as an alternative to a "sinner's prayer"?

Scripture is a great alternative. Pointing people to approach God in a Biblical fashion and from their own desires. Here is an example of how it could read:

Humbly ask the Lord to forgive you of your sins (through prayer). Confess your sins to Him - call upon Him to cleanse you by the blood of Jesus.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved" Acts 16:31.
God is Plenteous in mercy to all that call upon Him (see Psalm 86:5)
“him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” - John 6:37 
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. " James 4:8
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. - Psalm 145:18

Another example, that is longer, could be extracts from Psalm 51 -

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies - blot out my transgressions.
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness;

Hide thy face from my sins,
and blot out all mine iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God."

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved" Acts 16:31

Can you think of anything to add to this article? Contact us with your stories and ideas.

For His Glory,

- Nigel

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