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.