Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is it Biblical to Lead a Person in a Sinner's Prayer?

Jesus is never recorded in Scripture leading anyone in a “Sinner’s Prayer,” nor are His disciples. Instead, Jesus (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32; 13:3-5; 24:47), the twelve (Mark 6:12), Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19) and Paul (Acts 16:30-31; 17:29-30; 20:21; 26:20) told people to repent and believe. We should do what they did. Many modern day “evangelical” types (Bill Graham, Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen etc.) lead people in a “Sinner’s Prayer” as a means to supposedly lead them to Christ. However, this isn’t done in Scripture. Jesus told people to ‘count the cost’ (Luke 14:28) and ‘forsake all’ (Luke 14:33). Consider the way He spoke to those who wanted to follow Him in Luke 9:57-62; Matthew 19:16-22 and John 6:59-69. For the most part these evangelicals will tell people it’s not about the prayer or the words, but then if that’s true, why is there such a strong focus on it. Granted, a person who is convicted by God and has their eyes opened will likely call on the name of the Lord in prayer and I’m not against a contrite person doing this (Psalm 51; Romans 10:9-13; Luke 6:45). However, we should follow the example of Christ and his disciples and tell people to repent and believe, not try to lead them in a prayer. Sadly, many people look to a “Sinner’s Prayer” for assurance of salvation, not solely to God through the work of Christ. Eternal life in Christ is a free gift received by faith (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9).