Summary: This sermon was preached in response to reading a book that attacked the idea and validity of using the sinner’s prayer.
"What About the Sinner’s Prayer?"
The “sinner’s prayer” gets a bad rap. It has become popular today to trash the idea of “the sinner’s prayer.”
Some very popular recent writers have reduced the idea of a sinner’s prayer to the level of superstition or magical incantation.
In my opinion, people who attack “the sinner’s prayer” actually create a caricature of the real thing and then blast the caricature that they have created.
Because we are talking about “the sinner’s prayer,” we need to have a clear example of it before us. So, here is an example from the Campus Crusade for Christ’s tract entitled “The Four Spiritual Laws”:
Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.
I. There is No “THE” Sinner’s Prayer
1. Examples of variations
2. There is no ex cathedra form of the sinner’s prayer – no official version – no red letter edition – no set in stone version
3. The sinner’s prayer happens when a lost person cries out to God for salvation
4. The words may be broken or inaudible, whispered or shouted, but God hears
II. Some Argue that the Sinner’s Prayer is Not Biblical
1. There are those who attack the sinner’s prayer by saying that the sinner’s prayer is nowhere to be found in the Bible
2. The word “rapture” is not in the Bible either – the word Trinity is not in the Bible
3. The words “the sinner’s prayer” do not appear in the Bible, but there are a lot of sinners in the Bible praying!
4. The scripture that we read at the beginning of my sermon this morning is an example of a sinner praying
5. Very similar to “the sinner’s prayer” actually – “God be merciful to me, a sinner!”
6. Now, you can discount that prayer or mock it or call it superstitious
7. But Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other”
8. Look at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Lk 15
9. The son “comes to himself” and then comes to the Father and says, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you”
10. Blind Bartimaeus in Mk 10:47 – “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me”
11. Thomas’ prayer, as simple as it was, was the Sinner’s Prayer – “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28)
12. A great example of a Sinner’s Prayer is Ps 51
13. Not Biblical? The sinner’s prayer is all over the Bible - OT & NT
14. The Sinner’s Prayer is simply man’s heart-cry in response to God
15. As long as there have been sinners, there has been a sinner’s prayer
III. God Has Blessed the Use of the Sinner’s Prayer
1. Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Louis Paulau, D.L. Moody
2. On the night of the Chicago Fire D L Moody closed a great evangelistic meeting by not offering an “alter call” or invitation – instead he called upon the crowd to think about his words and come back the next night – many died in the fire and were not able to come back – Moody swore that he would never again close a meeting without inviting people to come to the alter in response to the gospel
3. You can’t think your way into heaven
4. The Gideon’s Bible includes a suggested “sinner’s prayer” – many a person has found salvation through reading a Gideon Bible!
5. An early version of the Sinners’ Prayer is found in Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, a Baptist, published in 1678, (Chapter 18)
Hopeful: He bid me go to him and see. Then I said it was presumption. He said, No; for I was invited to come.[Mt 11:28] Then he gave me a book of Jesus’ inditing, to encourage me the more freely to come; and he said concerning that book, that every jot and tittle thereof stood firmer than heaven and earth.[Mt 24:35] Then I asked him what I must do when I came; and he told me I must entreat upon my knees, [Ps 95:6] [Dan 6:10] with all my heart and soul, [Jer 29:12,13] the Father to reveal him to me. Then I asked him further, how I must make my supplications to him; and he said, Go, and thou shalt find him upon a mercy-seat, where he sits all the year long to give pardon and forgiveness to them that come. I told him, that I knew not what to say when I came; and he bid say to this effect: --