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The "Sinner's Prayer"—To Pray or Not To Pray?

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The question often arises about what a Christian should do if someone is repentant. (Those who repeat a sinner prayer and have not come to godly sorrow for their past life of rebellion against God and desire to turn and be free from their sin, are just repeating words like a magpie and will not end up forgiven and saved no matter what some man says. Repeating words in a sinners prayer doesn't save and bring forgiveness, only true repentance of sin from the heart and turning from that sin of rebellion against God's authority to the Lordship of Jesus Christ results in forgiveness and being 'born again' of the Spirit. Romans 10:8-10 tells us that when we believe in our heart (the truth about Christ) and confess Him as Lord, personally, that results in salvation. It's really all about the Lordship of Christ and submitting your life to His Lordship. That is the core of true Christianity. Jesus didn't die to forgive your sins, but that He might be Lord in your life; that you would stop living for self, die to self, take up your cross and start living for Him. Making a 'profession' of faith in the historical Jesus and His accomplishments does not result in Salvation. Jesus didn't say if you make a profession of faith you will be saved, but (1) You must repent of your sin [Luke 13:3,5] and (2) be born of the Spirit of God [John 3:6,8].) Again, what should a Christian do if someone is repentant. Should we lead him/her in what's commonly called a "sinner's prayer" or simply instruct him/her to seek after God? Perhaps the answer comes by looking to the natural realm.

As long as there are no complications when a child is born, all the doctor needs to do is guide the head. The same applies spiritually. When someone is "born of God," all we need to do is guide the head—make sure that they understand what they are doing. Philip the evangelist did this with the Ethiopian eunuch. He asked him, "Do you understand what you read?" (Acts 8:30). In the parable of the sower, the true convert (the "good soil" hearer) is he who hears "and understands." This understanding comes by the Law in the hand of the Spirit (Romans 7:7). If a sinner is ready for the Savior, it is because he has been drawn by the Holy Spirit (John 6:44). This is why we must be careful to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work and not rush in where angels fear to tread.

Praying a sinner's prayer with someone who isn't genuinely repentant may leave you with a stillborn in your hands. Besides, there is no example of such in the Bible. Therefore, rather than lead him in a prayer of repentance, it is wise to encourage him to pray and seek God for himself. When Nathan confronted David about his sin, he didn't lead the king in a prayer of repentance. David repented from his own heart.

If a man committed adultery, and his wife is willing to take him back, should you have to write out an apology for him to read to her? No. Sorrow for his betrayal of her trust should spill from his lips. She doesn't want eloquent words, but simply sorrow of heart. The same applies to a prayer of repentance. The words aren't as important as the presence of "godly sorrow." The sinner should be told to repent—to confess and forsake his sins. He could do this as a whispered prayer, then you could pray for him. If he's not sure what to say, perhaps David's prayer of repentance (Psalm 51) could be used as a model, but his own words are more desirable.

God wants to hear the cry of our heart, and it is that which He hears more than perfectly words that sound beautiful and are articulate and gramatically correct and all that. God hears the sincerity of our hearts and He knows our thoughts and motives. So it is a repentant heart and contrite spriit that He is interested in more than specific words. Go before the Father, through Jesus, in Jesus name and ask Him to forgive your sin and rebellion againt His Word and ask Him to change your heart and give you a desire to live for Him and love what He loves and that you want to serve Him and because you are sorry for your sins of rebellion against His authority over you and that you want to follow and obey Him.

If you pray to the Father and ask Him to forgive and change you, in the name of Jesus and you believe He is faithful to His Word and you mean business, you will know immediately or soon after you will begin to realize that a change has taken place for you will start seeing yourself with some different desires and responses in life for He will do the work. He wants you more than you want Him.

Two Prayers

(You may never pray either, but you might as well, for it makes no difference. Those who do not choose the Lord and do not repent of their rebellion against the authority of God and His Word over them, by default belong to the enemy of their souls.)

Example: A prayer of repentance

“DEAR FATHER, I have sinned against You by breaking Your Commandments. Despite the conscience You gave me, I have looked with lust and therefore committed adultery in my heart. I have lied, stolen, failed to love You, failed to love my neighbor as myself, and failed to live a holy life. I have been covetous, harbored hatred in my heart and therefore been guilty of murder in Your sight. I have used Your holy name in vain, have made a god to suit myself, and because of the nature of my sin, I have dishonored my parents. If I stood before You in Your burning holiness on Judgment Day, if every secret sin I have committed and every idle word I have spoken came out as evidence of my crimes against You, I would be utterly guilty, and justly deserve hell. I am unspeakably thankful that Jesus took my place by suffering and dying on the cross. He was bruised for my iniquities. He paid my fine so that I could leave the courtroom. He revealed how much You love me. I believe that He then rose from the dead (according to the Scriptures). I now confess and forsake my sin and yield myself to you Lord Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. I will no longer live for myself. I present my body, soul, and spirit to You as a living sacrifice, to serve You in the furtherance of Your Kingdom. I will read Your Word daily and obey what I read. It is solely because of Calvary's cross that You offer me eternal life. I am eternally Yours. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.”


“Choose you this day whom you will serve..."


“SATAN, the Bible tells me that you are the god of this world. You are the father of lies. You deceive the nations and blind the minds of those who do not believe. God warns that I cannot enter His Kingdom because I have lied, stolen, looked with lust and therefore committed adultery in my heart. I have harbored hatred, which the Bible says is the same as murder. I have blasphemed, refused to put God first, violated the Sabbath, coveted other people's goods, dishonored my parents, and have been guilty of the sin of idolatry—I even made a god to suit myself. I did all this despite the presence of my conscience. I know that it was God who gave me life. I have seen the splendor of a sunrise. I have heard the sounds of nature. I have enjoyed pleasures of an incredible array of food, all of which came from His generous hand. I realize that if I die in my sins I will never know pleasure again. I know that Jesus Christ shed His life's blood for my sins and rose again to destroy the power of death, but today I refuse to confess and forsake my sins. On the Day of Judgment, if I am cast into the Lake of Fire I will have no one to blame but myself. It is not God's will that I perish. He commended His love toward me through the death of His Son, who came to give me life. It was you who came to kill, steal, and destroy. You are my spiritual father. I choose to continue to serve you and do your will. This is because I love the darkness and hate the light. If I do not come to my senses, I will be eternally yours. Amen.”

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