Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Since the 1950’s most of evangelical Christianity has nearly totally embraced a theological concept that has come to be known as the “Sinner’s Prayer.” There are so many varieties of what this prayer is, but basically it is a prayer event where a person acknowledges he/she is a sinner and needs the Savior. Many believe Jesus requires that everyone must pray such a prayer in order to have salvation. That simply is not true.
One of the first questions that must be asked is, “Where is the sinner’s prayer in Scripture?” It’s just not there. There is one that has become most popular. It’s the scene in Luke 18:9-14, where Jesus tells a parable about two men observed praying-one a sinner and the other a religious Pharisee.“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is a great comparison between a humble sinner and a prideful Pharisee, but it is not a universal, special prayer that somehow we must pray for salvation. The damage of believing there is some sort of magical happening or prayer that one prays that will automatically bring about salvation is to miss what salvation is all about. You might call it “accepting Christ” or “meeting Christ” or “receiving Jesus as your personal Savior”, but this just isn’t what Jesus taught.
In Acts 2:41: So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.They were praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.Note there is no prayer in this response of the 3000 at all-not the sinner’s prayer or any other kind of prayer.
So, there just isn’t a clear “sinner’s prayer” or climactic spiritual event in the teachings of Jesus that indicates any kind of requirement. NOTE Jesus is all about each of us simply “coming to him”; it’s a relational matter with Jesus. This is why his continual requirement is clearly “Come to Me!” or “Follow Me!” So, are you coming along in following Jesus?