Tag Archives: sinner’s prayer


It is not uncommon to hear a person tell his story of conversion. Once, while sitting at the counter in a restaurant, a man told me his story. He was in a barber’s chair, felt convicted of sin, got down on his knees and prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. And from that moment forward he considered himself a saved man. How different, I thought, this was from the Bible stories of conversion.

The Book of Acts is the history of the first thirty years of Christianity and in this history we have the record of the Bible stories of conversion. The first is of the conversion of 3000 on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ. Upon hearing the gospel message people were convicted in their heart and asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They were told, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) On that day those who “gladly received the word were baptized, and there were added unto them about three thousand.” (Acts 2:41) But there was not a word said about the Sinner’s Prayer. No one was told to pray the Sinner’s Prayer and no one led them in the Sinner’s Prayer.

There are many other stories of conversion found in the Book of Acts but not once is the Sinner’s Prayer mentioned. The Samaritans believed and were baptized. (Acts 8:12) The Ethiopian eunuch believed and was baptized. (Acts 8:35-39) Cornelius and his house were commanded to be baptized in the name of the Lord. (Acts 10:48) Lydia was baptized. (Acts 16:14-15) The Philippian jailer believed and was baptized. (Acts 16:30-34) The Corinthians “hearing believed, and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8) Saul of Tarsus was told, “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16) Not a single time in the Bible stories of conversion was anyone told to pray the Sinner’s Prayer. Conversion by the Sinner’s Prayer is just not found in the Bible.

Claude Pharr

A Religious Curve Ball

Many times a batter has swung the bat in a smooth even swing at what seemed like a sure hit only to miss the ball completely. What happened? The pitcher threw him a curve ball. Likewise in religion many people having heard the gospel message and being desirous of the salvation offered, have nevertheless completely failed in doing God’s will. What happened? Religious teachers have thrown them a curve.

In the second chapter of the Book of Acts we have the record of the first day of Christianity. On that day the apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and began to carry out the commission Jesus had given them to spread the gospel message throughout the world. The apostle Peter was the main spokesperson that day. He explained the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; he spoke of the life, death and resurrection of Christ; he told of the ascension of Jesus back to heaven where He sat down on the right hand of the Father. Then Peter concluded by announcing that “God had made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:26)

Today this same gospel message about Jesus and what he has done for us is heard repeatedly throughout the land. It is proclaimed from a thousand pulpits, heard over the airwaves, written in books and pamphlets, communicated from person to person. But then comes the curve. Today when people desiring salvation in Christ ask what to do, instead of being told: “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38) as the Bible says, they are told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer.” This “Sinner’s Prayer,” so often promoted by modern religious teachers as the way to salvation is not found in the Bible. It is rather a deceptive substitute for what the Bible really teaches. And just as many a batter has been deceived by a curve ball, so many good people have been deceived into thinking they are saved by offering the “Sinner’s Prayer.”


No Sinner’s Prayer

The way to obtain salvation in many denominations is by praying the sinner’s prayer. Each “Sinner’s Prayer” varies in detail, but they put forth the same idea: that if a person sincerely says and means these words, God will save them. But, there is no sinner’s prayer mentioned in the Scriptures. In the New Testament, not one person is told to pray to receive salvation.

For examples of the Lord’s plan of salvation, look in the book of Acts which details the preaching of the inspired apostles. In this soul-saving book, there is no record of anyone, at any time, under any circumstance, ever being asked to pray to receive salvation. Read of the conversions in Acts for yourself: Acts 2:37-38, Acts 8:4-5, 12-13, Acts 8:35-39, Acts 9:1-19, Acts 10:33, 42-48, Acts 16:13-15, Acts 16:30-34, Acts 18:4-8, Acts 19:1-5

Paul wanted to know what to do (Acts 9:6). He was told to go into the city and wait for someone to tell him. He waited three days, praying and fasting (Acts 9:9-11). If anyone could have been saved by prayer, surely it would have been Paul. Yet what did Ananias tell Paul when he arrived? See Acts 22:16. In other words, three days of prayer had left Paul still in his sins. So what was Paul instructed to do to be saved? See Acts 9:18.

Praying to obtain salvation is an invention of man. Jesus asks a simple question in Luke 6:46. The people saved in the book of Acts were never instructed to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer.”

According to our Lord, to receive salvation, sinners are to

hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized.