I'm sure you've all heard the old addage, "Saved by a wing and a prayer?" But where did that saying come from? More importantly, "Can a person really be saved [i.e. born again] by a prayer?"
I'm of the persuasion, and I believe this because it's in the Bible, that a PRAYER can never save anyone! For the Bible teaches a person is not saved by PRAYER, rather by FAITH ALONE (Eph. 2:8,9), in the propitiatory finished work of Jesus Christ. More simply put, THROUGH FAITH IN HIS SHED BLOOD (Rom. 3:25).
After I trusted the blood atonement for salvation and was gloriously saved, I heard preachers all the time say things like "Trust the Blood" or "Trust the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary!"
But now many of those same preachers don't say this anymore. Instead, they say what a lot of other so-called Christians are pushing: they are stressing the "Sinner's Prayer" mentality that a person is saved by simply "repeating a prayer" as they follow someone else's words. (Many Independent Baptists even are adopting this teaching, and pressuring sinners to repeat after them, and then telling them they are saved because of it. This makes the sinner think he's saved BY his prayer.)
Where this comes from? I don't know, for it's not in the Bible. (See Mark 7:6,7 about how Jesus even said people can come to him with their LIPS, but their HEART can still be far from him).
Sadly, this "prayer saves mentality" is gaining much ground. And as I point out the sound scriptural truth that a prayer doesn't save anyone, I find I'm getting much opposition, especially from those of my own denominational affiliation (Independent Baptist). Many of them have gone the way of apostasy and have decided to leave off preaching the blood atonement and follow the easier doctrine of simply repeating the Sinner's Prayer!
Sadder still, many of these same preachers and soul winners get angry when you try to show them from the Bible that the Sinner's Prayer is a horrendous heresy that can damn people to hell, as it can leave them trusting in what they SAID instead of in the blood God SHED!
Whether they know it or not, I've found that most FUNDAMENTALISTS, who claim to be "Bible Believers" have actually become nothing more than followers of MEN. Within the various groups of Fundamentalism, we find many movements begun by men, and this leads to the followers of those groups using methods produced by men, instead of simply preaching the Gospel plainly from the scriptures. This is sad, but is everyday practice in modern Fundamentalism. And this is how the whole Sinner's Prayer doctrine has gained such ground in Christian circles today.
This wasn't always so, as many people used to preach against the "Quick, repeat this prayer after me method," calling it "Easy Believism," and a dangerous doctrine. (Note: Easy Believism means different things to different people. Some day I'll attempt to do an article on what Easy Believism really is, because the name is misleading. For to be saved it is by faith or by believing!")
But now, many preachers preach the very thing they used to preach against. That is to say, they preach salvation by a PRAYER, instead of salvation by faith alone in Christ's PAYMENT for our sins.
Knowing that many preachers won't listen to scripture, but instead will listen to men whom they brag about and follow as "Fundamentalists," I'd like to give some quotes below of men who have spoken out against the "Sinner's Prayer" mentality. Hopefully, many fundamentalists will see that Christians didn't always preach a "1,2,3, pray after me" shallow plan of salvation, but they taught a heartfelt REPENTANCE towards God and FAITH IN THE BLOODY SACRIFICE of Jesus Christ. Simply put, salvation is not by repeating, it is by repenting (i.e. turning from trusting in your own righteousness, but trusting in the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone).
WORDS OF JOHN R. RICE:
"Many people believe that a sinner cannot be saved without a period of prayer, without consciously calling upon God. However, the Bible does not say that a sinner must pray in order to be saved. In fact, immediately following the verse in Rom. 10:13 is an explanation which shows that calling on God is an evidence of faith in the heart and that it is really faith which settles the matter... No matter how long he prays, if he does not trust in Christ, he can never be saved. If he trusts in Christ without conscious prayer, then he is saved already. There is just one plan of salvation and just one step a sinner must take to secure it. That step is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!"
WORDS OF CHARLES H. SPURGEON:
"Thou art to be saved by faith in Christ...and in Christ alone. Do not think thou must experience this, or that, before thou comest unto Jesus...Rely not on anything thou canst DO, or THINK, or SAY, or know; rest alone on Jesus only, and thou art saved. Give up all other trusts, and rely on Jesus alone, alone on Jesus, and thou shalt pass from death unto life."
WORDS OF DR. PETER S. RUCKMAN:
"I don't teach anybody they are saved until they realize their own righteousness will land them in hell. I believe a man is saved from something. And I believe he is saved from hell. And, I believe until he sees his own goodness can't save him, the prayers don't amount to a hill of beans!"
These are just a few well-known preachers that many fundamentalists follow. Notice how in these quotes they are against telling a sinner he's saved by his prayer. Yet, many of those who follow these men are the very ones preaching the heretical doctrine of "The Sinner's Prayer."
Are you one of them? Or do you make it a point to preach the Gospel plainly to lost sinners, and then instruct them to give up their own self-righteousness and come to Jesus Christ a repentant sinner, trusting his shed blood alone?
Please preach the Gospel and not the PRAY AFTER ME doctrine. For a guy can get saved with or without prayer. It's not the prayer that saves, it's whether or not he's trusting in the shed blood atonement of Christ when he prays. The prayer itself doesn't save, only faith saves!
For more about the whole Sinner's Prayer mentality, read my books:
The "Heresy" of the Sinner's Prayer:
What It Means to Call Upon the Lord:
Got any more quotes like those above by many well-known preachers who have said PRAYER does not save, only FAITH in Christ our PROPITIATION is what saves us. I'd like to hear them in the comment box below!