Is The Sinner’s Prayer Biblical?

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” – Mark 16:16

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Hey, friends! I hope that you and your families are well. Thank you for your continued show of love and support in reading. I appreciate you!!

You’ve probably heard what’s known as The Sinner’s Prayer. Maybe you’ve told someone to pray it. Or, perhaps you have even prayed it yourself. In some form or another it goes like this:

The Sinner’s Prayer

“Lord, I stand before You a sinner. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for my sins. I believe and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Thank You for forgiving my sins and saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The question is: Is it Biblical? Do we have Scripture to back up the claim that praying a prayer will save you?

The answer is: No. Nowhere in Scripture do we see anyone praying to receive salvation. We also don’t see what is deemed The Sinner’s Prayer.

Sinner’s Who Prayed

We do, however, see sinners praying. Recall Saul of Tarsus (also known as Paul) who persecuted Christians. After the Lord met him on the road to Damascus, Saul prayed for 3 days (Acts 9:9-11). It wasn’t until Ananias came to him and restored his sight, immediately, Saul arose and was baptized (Acts 9:18). It was then that he was saved.

Cornelius the centurion was a devout man who also prayed to God, but he was not a Christian – he wasn’t saved. The Bible says that his prayers and alms went up to God as a memorial (Acts 10:1-4). The Lord sent Peter to his household, and Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius and all who were present in his home. The Holy Spirit fell on them, and he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 10:48). It was then that they were saved, not before that.

Calling On The Name of The Lord

Some people posit that texts like Acts 2:21, which says, “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” are scriptural basis for The Sinner’s Prayer. However, in that same passage in Acts chapter 2 where Peter was preaching to the Jews, he told them, after they asked what they needed to do, to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Furthermore, scripture tells us what calling on the name of the Lord means in Acts 22:16: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” One calls on the name of the Lord by being obedient to His will and being baptized.

“Lord, Lord”

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). So, just calling Him Lord, or even declaring that He is Lord in a prayer, does not save a person. Only those who obey God will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus expounded on this same idea when Nicodemus came to Him at night. He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). A person is not born again, or saved, unless he is born of water (baptized) and of the Holy Spirit.

Concluding Thoughts

The Sinner’s Prayer arises from the teaching that a person is saved by faith only. I discuss that idea here. It is not scriptural, hence the Sinner’s prayer is not biblical either. Belief is not enough to save anyone. Therefore saying that you believe in Jesus in a prayer to God is not enough to save you. We saw examples of people in the Bible who prayed, yet their prayers didn’t save them. They were commanded to be baptized. Jesus made it plain and clear what one must do in order to be saved. He said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Anyone who has been teaching The Sinner’s Prayer for salvation must abandon that teaching. We must teach only what is biblical – what we can find in our Bible. If you want to be saved, the Bible teaches that you must believe and be baptized (Mark 16:16), you must repent (Acts 2:38), you must confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9), and you must live a faithful life until death (Revelation 2:10).

That’s how you get saved – not by The Sinner’s Prayer.


14 responses to “Is The Sinner’s Prayer Biblical?”

  1. Great article and informative! I have not taught nor practiced the sinners prayer. It would seem plausible that the words would be an opening for a new Christ-follower to openly confess their known sins, repent, and seek forgiveness. In doing so their hearts would begin transforming to hate what God hates and love what He loves.

    Thank you for writing this and giving believers practical guidance to remain set apart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 1 Timothy 2:12-14 King James Version 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.


  3. Thank you for the encouragement! I suppose someone who is not saved who prays to God would be much like Cornelius who prayed to God always but wasn’t saved; perhaps their prayers will go up as a memorial before God and they will eventually be fully obedient to the gospel.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for adding to the discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for reminding us of 1 Timothy 2:12-14. May God bless you.


  5. When is someone going to speak the truth about being chosen by God ? That is how you’re saved , by being chosen. Chosen before God formed the world. Grace ! Grace ! Grace ! The true meaning of grace is God reaching down in the bucket of bad apples and picking some for his own purpose even though all are rotten.


  6. Hi, Steven. What scriptures do you have to support that some are chosen to be saved and some aren’t?

    Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. None of us deserve the gift of Christ, but He extends His grace to all (John 1:16).


  7. Sorry for the delay but I can’t think of any of God’s servants that weren’t chosen. Check out Mathew 24:14 , Ephesians 1:4-5 , John 15:16 , 1 Peter 2:9 and Deuteronomy 14:2 . See what you think.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for sharing those scriptures, Steven. Yes, God’s servants were chosen. But they also had a choice. God never makes anyone serve Him. From your last message, it seemed as if you were saying that we are saved by being chosen. Being chosen does not take away choice. Even Adam and Eve had a choice in the Garden.

    In order to be saved, we must make the choice to do what God has called us to do: to believe, to repent, to confess Christ, to be baptized, and to live a faithful life in service to Him. Without those things, one cannot be saved. Would you agree that a person has to believe in Jesus, repent, confess Him, and be baptized?


  9. Absolutely! Check out John 6:44 KJV and notice the words can and draw. No one can unless they be drawn . I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m not a big fan of free will. Personally I don’t think anyone besides Christ has had free will since the garden. John 6:34 , Romans 6:1-23 speak on being slaves to sin. A slave is not free to make free will choices. I believe a born sinner has to be coaxed by God to change. I also believe a saved soul plays a integral part in the sanctification process. When it’s all said and done God is going to get all the glory not us telling our stories of when we made the decision to choose the God. None of us will boast.


  10. Yes, we agree that the Lord draws people to Himself! Jesus said that if He be lifted up from the earth, He will draw all people unto Him (John 12:32). So it’s all people that are drawn, not just a select few.

    As to choice, Jesus chose the 12 disciples, yet one of them chose to betray Him (John 6:70). That also speaks to the fact that you can be chosen and fall from grace.

    Remember Joshua 24:15? We must choose whether we are going to serve the Lord. Yes, He has chosen us, but we must also choose Him. Unfortunately, sometimes His love goes unrequited.

    And you are correct, God will get the glory. He always has and always will. I appreciate the discussion and you sharing your thoughtful insights.


  11. Also, about your point of us being slaves and not free, we are free in Christ (1 Peter 2:16), so we have a choice. We just choose to live as God’s slaves.


  12. […] 4. Is the Sinner’s Prayer Biblical? […]


  13. Cecilio Gonzalez Avatar
    Cecilio Gonzalez

    Ironically, the scripture in Romans 6, clearly teaches us that we are set free from sin as a result of union with the Son of God in baptism.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes! When we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. Then we are raised to newness of life, just like He was. Love Romans 6. It is very clear, as you mentioned.


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