There is a lot of disagreement among Christians over the use of the sinner’s prayer. Some are quick to point out abuse of the sinner’s prayer and all together dismiss it. Others seem quick to overlook its abuse and to point out its usefulness. Personally, I have witnessed its abuse. Yet, I often wonder if we will ever find a common ground on the sinner’s prayer.
But yesterday’s ethics post about the sinner’s prayer raised a question in my mind.
What if someone says the sinner’s prayer and means it?
Of course, then questions about the question begin. People will want to know what was in the prayer and what is it they meant. I’m far less comfortable with a sinner’s prayer like Joel Osteen presents which is like this: Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and savior.
While sharing the gospel followed by a sinner’s prayer is not a systematic theological treatise something must be known of Jesus, sin, forgiveness, redemption, etc. Even if those aspects of Christianity are explained thoroughly many new Christians might not immediately understand them very well.
Yet, if the gospel is shared and someone is lead in the sinner’s pray something like: Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for the punishment of my sins and rose from the dead three days later. So, I repent of all my sins and I ask, through faith alone in Christ alone, for the forgiveness of my sins. Father, thank you for granting me eternal life through your Son. Amen!
Can that prayer save you? No, it cannot.
However, if you meant that prayer when saying it, that is, it was a true profession of faith then by God’s grace alone through faith alone God will save you.
While I think Christians ought to be careful in how a sinner’s prayer is used, I don’t see how God would reject someone who confessed true belief in Christ – they meant it – through a sinner’s prayer.
For what it’s worth…