Note: The following discussion has been carried over from another blog and since my blog has become the new hotspot for debates between Roman Catholics and Protestants, it has been continued here.
Before beginning, I will admit that my views concerning this subject are biased because as a child I prayed the sinner’s prayer, while failing to make a true commitment. That paired with an unbiblical understanding of the perseverance of the saints led me to place my confidence, of the security of my salvation, in my praying a prayer rather than in my bearing of fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8).
Do I think there is a better evangelism paradigm than the sinner’s prayer? Yes, when coupled with an inadequate presentation of the Gospel the sinners prayer is dangerous for several reasons.
1. I think it is rooted in our desire for closure rather than Scripture and our desire to see Biblical converts.
2. I think it flows out of an unbiblical understanding of the great commission; we are called to disciple not merely evangelize.
3. I think it leads believers to place their assurance of Salvation in an act rather than in God.
4. I think it oversimplifies the Gospel.
5. I think it does not maintain an equal understanding of Christ as both Savior and Lord.
Do I think that praying the sinner’s prayer is unbiblical, heretical, or just plain bad? No, I just think there are better methods of concluding a Gospel presentation and I am positive that someone with more experience and wisdom could point me to a better method than anything I could suggest as well. I do not think this is a question of what is Biblical or unbiblical but about what methods convey the Gospel with more clarity.
Disclaimer: This all depends on what sinner’s prayer you pray and how you present the Gospel. When coupled with a Biblical Gospel presentation praying a prayer, as an outward sign of an inward commitment, is a very Biblical thing. What should be avoided is presenting the Gospel as “pray this prayer and you are always saved,” that is unbiblical. A proper presentation of the Gospel should always result in a proper understanding of prayer, in this case a prayer of commitment and submission to Christ. Honestly, would not want to pray to the God who purchased them with the blood of His only begotten Son? I think communication with the Father is a natural result of receiving the Gospel message and we should stress the importance of communicating with the Father. What we should avoid is stressing the mechanistic repetition of a prayer that does not flow forth from the heart; it is my conviction that our desire for closure causes us to do that very thing. This is why I would suggest praying a simple prayer for the individual, encouraging them pray there on there own, or encouraging them to go home a talk to God about their new life in Him.
Finally, just share the Gospel; immerse yourself in God’s Word so you know the Gospel and share it like crazy. It is my prayer that we would combine a mature knowledge of God with an ever-increasing passion for God and go tell the world. For some reason it seems that the more you know about God the more boring you become and I think we need to change that. The Puritans call this “logic on fire” the more you know of God the more your passions burn for Him.