Cynicism and The Sinner’s Prayer- Introduction and Reflection

June 8, 2009

Jesus said, ‘You may ask Me for anything in my name, and I will do it.’ (John 14.14)

Therefore, if you pray sincerely, asking Him this:

“Lord Jesus, please come into my life
and be my Savior and Lord.
Please forgive my sins,
and give me the gift of eternal life.”

– He will do it now.”

(The Bridge to Life tract, by The Navigators)

This week I plan on taking a look at what is commonly known as The Sinner’s Prayer for Salvation.  I have been thinking of doing this for awhile, and finally I feel compelled to do it after watching it employed full force from the pulpit of my church this past Sunday.  Over the next several days I will go into my initial misgivings about The Sinner’s Prayer and then scour the New Testament for evidence supporting or denouncing its use in the course of Christian evangelism.However I wanted to start off with a confession.

My confession is that I hate seeing people saved using The Sinner’s Prayer.  Okay, that’s too strong.  Better to say, if people are being genuinely saved, I love seeing that.  But, when people are saved under the preaching of someone who asks them to pray The Sinner’s Prayer, who tells them, “If you pray this prayer and really mean it then you will be saved forever,” I get this feeling in my gut that resembles a mixture of ‘Can I trust this person?’ and ‘What did I just eat?’ and I hate it.  My God is a big God and he can use all types of folly to save people.  Still, there is nothing in this world that scares me more than false assurance, and when I see this sort of evangelism used to “win souls” my mind immediately turns to Matthew 7.21-23.

The problem is, what should I do when “souls are won” this way?  Yesterday three young men came forward saying they prayed the prayer and had committed themselves to God, and I struggled to rejoice.  I should, I know I should, but every part of my body wants to cry out, “Have you truly believed?!?”  I earnestly pray that these men have, and the last thing I want to do is stunt their spiritual growth by questioning their salvation experience.  Yet, is it responsible not to probe deeper?  They were told to pray a prayer and they did, they are “saved.”  Am I not the ultimate jerk for doubting that?

The Sinner’s Prayer.  I hate it.  Should I?  That is what we will be looking at in the days to come.