The Sinner's Prayer

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Tom Butler, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    In another thread, what started out as a debate over what is commonly known as The Sinner's Prayer deteriorated rapidly over the troll-ship of the original poster.

    So, what about it? My first training in personal witnessing (or soul-winning) did, in fact, include a point at which the lost person was instructed to "pray something like this: Etc, etc."

    If the lost person prayed as instructed, at the end we were taught to ask, "did you sincerely pray that prayer? Did you really, really mean it?"

    If yes, we were taught to say, "then on the authority of God's word, I declare that you are saved. And don't let anybody try to talk you out of it."

    Over the years, however, I have come to some doubts about that process. When we tell someone to pray the Sinner's Prayer, is it possible that they are hearing something like, "say these magic words."?

    This was brought home to me when a young college student was asked about relationship with the Lord Jesus. Her answer: "Well, I said the prayer."

    So, I ask, is the use of the Sinner's Prayer a valid method of soul-winning?
    If so, how do you avoid making such a prayer "magic words?"

    If not, what is the proper way to "draw the net." The proper way to bring someone to the point of decision? What do you tell them to do, or say, if anything? What questions, if any, do you ask them to elicit a commitment?

    Release the hounds!!!
     
  2. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Youxsaid it yourself Tom, this prayer is perseived as "abra kadrabra " it also reminds me of the famous Catholic prayer, "The act of contrition "...after you say it your soul is wiped clean of all sin and you are in a state of grace....provided it is said sinserely. Again abra kadrabra!
     
  3. evangelist6589

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    Maybe or maybe not. If the person prays the prayer and knows its not a magical formula but only God saves and not a prayer than yes. But if this is NOT explained then I am against using it. Unfortunately many of my tracts have it, except ones by Calvinist authors.
     
  4. PreachTony

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    Given my reaction to it in the other thread, it's clear that I'm not a supporter of this method. I believe an experience of salvation is a personal, intimate thing between the individual and God. It's difficult to be intimate and personal when you have someone standing beside you telling you what to say.
     
  5. HAMel

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    It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So it is with our Christian walk. Is our walk worth a thousand words?

    My pastor told of an experience early in his ministry wherein he ran upon a man "down town" who was obviously under the influence of alcohol. The man stopped him on the street as said in a rather loud voice..., "Hey Preacher..., remember me?" No, he really didn't remember him and admitted such. The guy then said, "you saved me a few months ago".
     
  6. JonC

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    I don’t have a problem with the “sinners prayer” as an explanation of the gospel and/or calling on God. I suppose my view of the practice depends on how it is used. I have never witnessed it being used as an “incantation” or within an “easy-believeism” scheme (except perhaps on the last page of tracts), but I do have limited experience with its use.

    My experience has been that it was an example, or a summary, of the gospel message in a confessional form (confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord and expressing a repentance and belief in Christ). I have never seen it used as a means of salvation, but in my experience it has always been used to explain a salvation that has already occurred if it were truly descriptive of the one praying. That said, I rarely see it used today (except on tracts) and I’m not fond of its form (as a “prayer”).
     
  7. JamesL

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    3 versions:

    Act of Contrition

    O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my
    sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend
    Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly
    resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near
    occasions of sin.

    Act of Contrition

    My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong
    and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above
    all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more,
    and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and
    died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

    Act of Contrition

    O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have offended you. I know I
    should love you above all things. Help me to do penance, to do better, and
    to avoid anything that might lead me to sin. Amen.


    Oh, dang. They forgot the part about asking Jesus into their heart

    I guess that's the magical difference
     
  8. JamesL

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    So....
    Where can this sentiment be found in scripture?


    EVERY use of a prayer to "close the deal" is heresy.
     
  9. Zenas

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    HAMel you left out the punch line. The preacher answers, "Yeah it must have been me because it's obvious God had no part in it."
     
  10. JamesL

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    Believing is not a decision, and justification by faith is apart from works commitment.

    Look at Acts 10. Peter preached Christ, and proclaimed remission of sins to everyone who believes in Him.

    While he was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on those who heard.


    It is the Spirit who enlightens, through the preaching of the gospel. He doesn't need bedpost evangelism, with wolves making a new notch for each sucker
     
  11. Revmitchell

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    Who perceives it that way?
     
  12. Revmitchell

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    And yet scripture shows it to be an open and public event hence Baptism and the proclamation of the gospel.
     
  13. go2church

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    As a first step of many steps, I don't have a problem with it. I wouldn't be comfortable with it being the only step. There is more to being a Christian than saying a prayer, of course, but there is nothing in saying a prayer that precludes one from being a Christian.

    As often happens, the abuse of some, swing the pendulum way far in the other direction.
     
  14. PreachTony

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    Rev - I completely agree that a person should announce/confess their salvation to others. I'm not saying that people should not be open about their salvation. I'm talking about the moments in which, as Paul wrote, a person is "working out their own salvation with fear and trembling" should be a personal, intimate experience.

    I cringe any time I hear a preacher do the "bow your heads, close your eyes, if you're not saved raise your hand, now repeat this prayer after me, now you're saved." That's horrifying to me. That's not Biblical.

    The after-events, confession, baptism, etc. should be open and public. But the actual time spent working it out with God, be it through prayer, study, meditation, whatever manner in which the Lord leads you to, I believe should be between you and God.

    Does that make sense?
     
  15. Revmitchell

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    Why?

    It is not myh practice by what about it is contrary to scripture? What makes it so horrifying?


    How private was it with the Ethiopian?
     
  16. PreachTony

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    If people can be saved simply by reciting a prayer, then why not just have every church service and every street preacher say "repeat this prayer and be saved?" The times I've actually seen this in practice there was no mention of faith coming by hearing and hearing by the preached word of God. There was no mention of sin. It was just "repeat this prayer and you'll be saved and go to Heaven." That doesn't sicken you? That doesn't bother you a little bit?

    As for the Ethiopian, did Philip just tell him what to say and do and believe? Or did he take the same scriptures the Ethiopian was already reading and use them to expound unto him Jesus? Did Philip save the Ethiopian, or did God?

    To my reading, the Ethiopian decided to be baptized. I don't read Philip as an attorney "leading the witness." Then again, I may not have the right translation to see it as such. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  17. InTheLight

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    This is a great question. Do preachers and evangelists believe that if they can get someone to recite a canned prayer, they are automatically saved? (I say no.)

    Do the majority of people think that if they recite a canned prayer then go back to their usual lifestyle they are saved? (I say no.)

    It seems to me the only people that believe "abracadabra, you're saved" is how the sinner's prayer works are detractors of the sinner's prayer.
     
  18. Salty

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    :thumbsup:

    so far, this is fine.....

    this is the part that I cringe:tear:

    It is best for someone to sit down and fully explain.
    How many times does a person come forward, sit on the front pew for 2 or 3 minutes while the pastor goes thur the Romans Roadmap while the congregation is singing "Just As I Am" for the third time - and they will keep singing until you have signed the card....


    I remember one person saying you should send out invitations for your baptism. :type:
     
  19. Revmitchell

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    Yea I know. Whenever there is someone who doesn't like it they have some isolated anecdote to prove their point. That may happen but it is isolated and not a regular practice. The issue isn't the prayer but the poor preaching of the gospel.

    Now you are conflating issues here. The reason I brought up the Ethiopian was not directly related to the prayer itself but to the fact that you said that moment should be private.

    I don't know what you mean by leading the witness.
     
  20. InTheLight

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    I have never seen this in my 40+ years of attending Baptist churches that have had altar calls.
     

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