Inside: The “salvation prayer” is not your ticket to heaven. This is really all it takes.
You’ve heard that prayer before, haven’t you, the “Sinner’s Prayer.”
Maybe you’ve even said something like:
I’m sorry for all of my bad.
Of course, I want the gift of eternal life.
Thank You for making that possible.
Every year millions of people are being told on television shows or in sermons to say a prayer similar to that and they will be saved, that it’s that simple, to get a ticket to heaven.
But I think there’s a little bit more to it . . .
Photo by Polina Zimmerman.
Some say the Sinner’s prayer isn’t even in the Bible.
And they’d be right.
The Sinner’s prayer was popularized by Baptist preacher Billy Graham as well as Billy Sunday and Bill Bright.
Billy Graham and denominational preachers like him have taught millions of people a way of salvation that is not even found in the Bible?
Yes, but does that mean it’s not biblical?
There are Bible verses you could put together to make a prayer like that.
One of those prayers is called the Romans Road to Salvation because each point is taken from a Scripture verse in the book of Romans in the New Testament.
Here is how it looks in the King James Version:
- Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
- Verse 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
- Verse 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Verse 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Verse 10:13, says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
So if the prayer is Biblical
why don’t I think the Salvation Prayer
is your ticket to heaven?
😊 I’m glad you asked.
I used to struggle to share my faith with friends.
Here’s a piece of my story from my book, Mary Me: One Woman’s Incredible Adventure with God:
That night, I crawled into bed. The midnight sun shone through my window and the troubling question returned: what if God, at the very least, wants each of us to know He’s available, and He gives us the freedom to choose whether we want Him or not?
So, wouldn’t I love my friends enough to share my experience and let them decide what to do with the information?
“Yikes. Lord, when I think about it like that, I want to. But still, it freaks me out; what if they give up our friendship?”
“So, let me get this straight.” I sensed God saying. “You love your friends, and you believe all this, but you don’t want to share. Is that really love?”
My stomach lurched as I rolled over. After duking it out for weeks, He had me.
For Pam’s birthday, I bought her a Bible
and had her name engraved on it. “Thanks!” She flipped through the pages. “I’ve been wanting one of these things. They’re expensive.”
I caught her attention when I pulled a bookmark from inside. “What’s that?” she asked.
“It’s called the Sinner’s Prayer. It’s made up of different passages from the Bible, like this, ‘That’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God’ ” (Luke 15:10, TM).
“You think this prayer gets you into heaven?” She grabbed the bookmark.
I nodded. “You don’t want to pray it, do you?”
She began without me. Dear Lord. She read ahead, so fast I wouldn’t know what she said if the words weren’t in front of me:
I know I’m a sinner.
And I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead.
I trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.
Guide my life and help me do Your will.
In Your name, I pray, Amen.
That night, I continued my on-going chat with God.
“Did Pam’s prayer count?
I love her. And I understand her wanting a ticket to heaven, but her prayer seemed more like fire insurance against hell than a heartfelt desire to hang out with You.”
“Don’t worry.” God smiled. “No one comes to me with pure motives.”
Wow! I thought for a minute. “You really do love us, don’t You?”
That reply always blows me away. God gave me the title of my book for a Christmas present. It’s called Mary Me because it’s about the way God made me more like Mary than Martha in the Bible story of the two sisters. I love the double entendre and how it makes me think of the words “marry me” because in the process, He became my partner.
“I do” is God’s reply to every single person who wants a relationship with Him. And it’s the same words we use to make the covenant in a marriage.
This is how God is.
Over and over,
when you have a relationship with God,
He will surprise you.
So, it’s not that I think the prayer is wrong.
It’s just that I think we also need to want to get right with God.
God knows our hearts. We can’t fake it with Him. I don’t think a ticket to heaven is about rattling off a bunch of words. I think . . .
If someone really does want a relationship with God,
it doesn’t matter what words he/she uses to tell Him that. ☺️
I believe the thing that initiates our process of getting into heaven is our simple desire to be right with God.
God will take us just as we are!
But we don’t want to stop there.
Matthew 7:21 says:
“Not all who sound religious are really godly people.
They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’
but still won’t get to heaven.
We’ve all seen examples of people who don’t represent God very well, right? The Bible goes on to say that we need to do God’s will.
“he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”
Of course, Jesus knows how we work and He says, “on that day, many will say” and list all the things they did for Him. But He will say,
“I never knew you.
Get away from me,
you who break God’s laws.”
(Matthew 23, NIV)
That used to freak me out. But when I started turning to God for help, He came through for me over and over and over. As I got to know God, I began to understand the tip of the iceberg of His love for me.
If you’re up for it, God wants to have a relationship with you, too!
I used to think God would be boring and I’d have no cool friends. But that’s not true. I have become friends with some of the most amazing people because of God. And God is so much more fun than I ever imagined.
If you’d like, I would love to help you get to know God.
When you sign up, I’ll also send you a short free video series
that will help you break free from the pain of your past
and learn how do life with God better.
I’m reading this book called,
A Change of Affection,
A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption
by Becket Cook
And I think his version of the Sinner’s prayer is my favorite:
“The overwhelming wonder of God’s infinite love is this:
While I was broken and a failure, God came to rescue me. He came to love me, to redeem me, and to heal me from sin.
- Where I failed, Christ succeeded on my behalf.
- Where I distrusted, Christ was faithful.
- Where I proudly resisted, he humbly surrendered.
Through his obedience, he bridged the chasm between my darkness and his light.
On the cross, God’s Son took my place and became a sacrifice for all my failures.
In his resurrection, he triumphed over all my destruction.
And he now stands as my victorious Redeemer, offering me, and all who will simply receive him, his forgiveness and vindication.
Christ clothes my shame and brokenness with his righteous and holy life.”
I normally capitalize the “H” in the pronouns when I refer to God.
I use male pronouns because I got to know Jesus as male and God as Father. So, it made sense to me. Capitalizing the “h” felt like a sign of respect, a small way I could honor God.
But as I read Cook’s words, I saw that he didn’t capitalize the initial letters in the pronouns for God. So, I kept them that way in his quote. It seems to fit with his perspective.
It’s like he understands Christ’s humility better than I do and maybe that’s why he chose not to capitalize the pronouns. 🤷🏻♀️
You’re so cool!
You promise that
everyone who calls on You
will be saved.
You don’t reject any of us.