Michael Ricardi wrote an article this week entitled Should I use the Sinners Prayer in Evangelism?. I appreciated this article, and others like it since many people on the mission field base their Salvation on praying a prayer instead of faith in Christ.
Allow me to clarify that I have no problem with the sinners prayer itself (neither does Mr. Ricardi). But this prayer by itself cannot save anyone. That takes confession of sin, belief that Jesus paid your sin-debt, and choosing to accept Christ as your Savior (romans 10:9-13)
Without a choice of the heart, a sinners prayer is just another form of works Salvation.
The truly sad thing about this is many pray that prayer, but then go on with an unchanged heart, and believe they will go to Heaven.
Working with children I have seen many young people pray the sinners prayer (one boy has done it at least three times!) but there is no transformation or spiritual fruit!
What are we supposed to do about this?
In my personal opinion the best thing to do is constantly clarify the Gospel.
God has promised that conviction of the heart (John 16:8-11) and revealing of God’s truth (John 14:25-27) is done by the Holy Spirit. My job is to continue sharing the Word of God faithfully, and allow it to impact lives (Hebrews 4:12). Part of this may include telling people in love that just praying a prayer cannot save them.
In other words the Gospel does the work…not me 1.
This is an incredibly freeing idea because there’s a temptation to place pressure on someone who has prayed a prayer, but not chosen Christ as their Savior. While confrontation of sin is necessary (especially if they rely on a prayer to save them), we can rest in knowing the Word of God can penetrate the heart our words cannot.
So we preach God’s word,
Clarify what it means to accept Christ,
And let the Gospel do its work
- You can read a bit more about this idea at the following post https://johnhwilburn.org/2019/06/20/let-the-gospel-do-its-work/ ↩