For decades, crusades have been conducted around the world, and thousands have responded to give their lives to Jesus. Conscious of their sins, they are told to simply say the “sinner’s prayer.” Of even greater impact is the preaching by televangelists and church pastors who tell those who are lost that if they will say this sinner’s prayer, God will immediately forgive them of all their sins.
There are slight variations in the wording of this prayer, but they all have this format. “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your name. Amen.” The lives of many have been changed, but a vital question must be answered. Does the saying of this prayer bring salvation?
When did this prayer originate? Google to find the answer. “Some affirm that it evolved, in some form or another, during the early days of the Protestant Reformation. Others believe it originated as late as the eighteenth century revival movement.” One study provides strong evidence that the sinner’s prayer originated in the early twentieth century.
Think of the implications of the preceding paragraph. It implies that the sinner’s prayer was unknown by the church in the first century. The church, directed by the apostles, told millions how to be saved, but never told them to pray this prayer. It is not found even one time in the Bible. It is not found in the Bible anywhere in any of the forms used today.
It is not found in the writings of church leaders of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc. centuries! It was never used for fifteen hundred years after the church began. It is not from the mind of God but from the imagination of mere mortals.
If the sinner’s prayer is God’s answer to the question of what one must do in order to be saved, then was not one single person saved beginning at the death of Christ until the sixteenth century? Surely something must be wrong with giving this prayer as God’s plan to save mankind.
Let me suggest the path every man should follow in finding salvation. Read the book of Acts. It is the history of the church from its beginning until near the end of Paul’s life. Read about the spread of the church around the world. Read the Divine record of people asking what they must do about their sins. Note that never was any man told to pray this prayer. The answer given was always the same. Honestly seek to find the answer to life’s most important question. Read the book of Acts. Discover for yourself. Then do what they did!