Sunday, July 25, 2010

Where Can I Find “The Sinner's Prayer” In The Bible?

You can't… unless you have some weird modified non-authoritative Bible.

"OK then, can we find anything similar to that traditional form prayer in a normal Bible?"

Good question!

It would sure be a good study to look at huh. There are many verses that address what this prayer speaks of.   

But Christians and religious leaders have been notorious over the years for using terms and concepts that simply are not biblical in their attempts to "make a convert," and we need to be aware of this.  

Am I saying that every Sinner's Prayer is unbiblical?
No, and sinners (like me) do need to pray/communicate with God. We can all start where we are.  

I like what the Apostle Paul said better, "But what saith it? The Word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" ~Romans 10:8-11, kjv

Christians often hear a pastor, a church or a fisher of souls (a witnessing believer) tell a potential convert or visitor of the Sinner's Prayer.

In fact we tend to do this so much so (especially in the last five decades), that many have come to believe that the Sinner's Prayer is God-breathed and of canonical origin. I've met people that want to memorize the exact wording verbatim just like they would the 23rd Psalm (and some forms of it appear to be more biblical than others).

The God of the Bible does want every person to repent of their sins ..for all have sinned and broken God's holy laws. He clearly wants all to believe in Jesus Christ His only sinless Son. This is Scriptural. Being water baptized saves no one, but it is commanded for believers as they identify with Christ's death, burial and resurrection.

But the fact remains that there is no rote prayer or formula found in Bible called the "Sinner's Prayer" nor is there any prayer taught, recommended, given by an Apostle that could be used in every salvation experience.

In the 19th Century the very effective evangelist, Charles Finney, popularized the so called Sinner's Prayer. It was simply according to his passionate style and God really blessed Him as he preached the Word of God. Can you find any traditional altar calls, sinner's prayers or individual requests for Christ to come in and take the throne of one's heart in the Bible? No.

I often like to ask, "Would you pray something like this..?" It's because I want to give people an opportunity to trust Jesus, to pray something that would agree with the Bible and yet still have their own customized prayer come from their heart rather than mine. It's going to be their "walk of faith with the Lord" and I want no one thinking they are converted by or to Kurt.

Jesus is the ultimate Fisher of people. He alone is the only one who can save someone. Uncle Ben's wild rice converts, but the Lord is the only One who can get you to the uber-primo Destination God has for you. Am I saying that all people will be saved? No.

I don't believe that everyone who has responded to an altar call, who has shaken a preacher's hand, who has filled out a card and said a Sinners Prayer has been born again of God's Spirit. There must be true repentance involved. And I am not saying that "Altar calls", cards or hand-shaking is bad in and of themselves. In fact, I've been in way too many church services.. open air and inside buildings ..that never give sinners an honest opportunity to turn away from their wrong and destructive lifestyles to the only Savior.

Don't like that! After pure worship, what is the Church for? Too many smug religious people all dressed up in white etc, are still playing church, but it's all just a show, a political center, a social club, a major turn-off for visiting unbelievers who can smell the hypocrisy almost a mile off.      

The Bible doesn't tell us that people are good. It tells us that people are sinful and separated from a united harmonious life in God. It teaches that, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). And there are lasting consequences for being spiritually whacked (sinful).. "The wages of sin is death" [spiritual separation from God] (Rom. 6:23).

As some people have expressed their feelings about this prayer in the past, I certainly won't tell you that the "Sinner's Prayer" per se is a negative thing!

Please let your Sinners Prayer agree with the Bible, let it remind you that you are spiritually bankrupt—a needy sinner who must come to God on God's terms rather than on your own. I did this in 1977 and haven't regretted it for one moment.

Let your prayer be one of honest belief and repentance. Let it be a time for reverent reflection, contrition, and full confession. No need for beating yourself up over and over again or for Protestant or Catholic penance.

Let your sincere crying out to the Lord for His undeserved Salvation be earnest. Make it your own plea from the heart (in your own words) for His greatest help and miracle!

Church folk and Christians are known worldwide for buying books about angels, blessings, self-help and prosperity, but all other blessings and miracles from the Lord do not compare to His great Salvation! Never forget that.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Sinner's Prayer.. huh? Kurt, what are you even talking about with this? What is a typical Sinner's Prayer?" Here's one…

Dear Lord Jesus:

Thank You so much for your sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. Please forgive me for all of my past sinful thoughts, attitudes, and behavior. I do repent of the sins that I know I've committed and for the ones I don't know about. Please make me alive with a right spirit. With Your help, I want to change and grow. Please use and begin sanctifying me into the mature kind of person that you want me to be. Fill me with your Spirit and write my name in the Lamb's book of life. I know I am not worthy; but, I willingly accept You as my Lord and my Savior today. Thank You for this wonderful blessing of Salvation! Amen.

"Kurt, why do people pray that prayer anyways—what's their motivation?"

Well, because they realize that God really cares about them even though they've messed up, that Jesus is the only real and permanent fix to that.. if you will, that the devil and his minions (fallen angels) literally hate them and seek to destroy them, and also because they simply want to live foreverandeverandeverandever enjoying friendship and family in Heaven! They want to have life during life here and now as well. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me" (Jn. 14:6, notice that He did not say "I am a way among many ways").

The Bible also declares, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, niv). They can see that apart from a born again relationship with Christ, there is no eternal or meaningful life. Jesus Himself said, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (Jn. 10:10).

How much love? "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). How many friends have done that for you and are alive to talk to you about that today? God says, "Christ died for our sins..He was buried..He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures..He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred.." (1 Cor. 15:3-6).

Christian, tell the Lord that you are available to be a witness for Him. Let Him prepare your heart as you regularly steal away to listen to His words and intercede for your friends. Ask Him to empower you and lead you every day when you can remember this (yes, it's ok to be filled and refilled with His Spirit).

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