Is there a prayer for salvation?
The Bible has a lot to say about salvation, but very little about a specific type of prayer to be saved. However, it is very common in the Church for people to talk about either praying or leading others in a "prayer of sinners". Is there such a thing as a "prayer of salvation" or a "prayer of the sinner"? If not, how can you best pray for salvation?
Have faith like a child
Obviously the best place to find an answer about salvation and prayer is the Bible. In particular, a passage that helps us to understand these topics a little better is Matthew 19. At this point in the gospel, Jesus is deep in his ministry on earth, teaching how he is the Son of God, how to do, receive salvation and what is the spiritual "Kingdom of Heaven". After a few simple statements about marriage and relationships, a famous exchange takes place between Jesus and his disciples:
Then children were brought to him so that he could put his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and not hinder them, because the kingdom of heaven is one of them." And he put his hands on them and went away (Matthew 19: 13-15, ESV).
After studying these verses (and the context in which they were written), it is clear that Jesus does not say that only children can be saved. Instead, he explains that we have to position ourselves like a child to come to Christ in an attitude of humility, trust, vulnerability and need.
Not the attitude of salvation deserved
The other side of this truth is that the Kingdom of Heaven will not belong to those who try to come to God with any kind of selfishness, pride, and lack of understanding of their need for him. Indeed, Scripture teaches that we cannot be saved unless we first recognize our lost, sinful, and desperate need for a Savior.
Then someone comes to Jesus almost on time, who follows this conversation "like a child" with his disciples and asks an interesting question:
And behold, a man came up to him and said, "Teacher, what good deed do I have to do to have eternal life?" And he said to him, Why do you ask me what is good? … there is only one that is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments. “He said to him," Which one? " And Jesus said: "You should not murder, you should not commit adultery, you should not steal, you should not give false witness, honor your father and mother and, you should love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him: “I kept all of that. What am I missing? "Jesus said to him," If you were perfect, go sell what you own and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me. "When the young man heard that, he went away sadly because he had great possessions ”(Matthew 19: 15-22, ESV).
This story (commonly referred to as the "rich young ruler") shows the opposite result from the previous passage because instead of the man coming to Jesus as a child in humility and ready to embrace the Son of God, he came arrogantly and was ready to work yourself (or buy yourself if necessary) in the kingdom of God. But it did not work.
In fact, Jesus takes this opportunity to make a bold, final statement about salvation that will help us understand the answer to our original question about a "prayer of sinners." Jesus said to his disciples:
"Truly, I tell you, it is difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. " When the disciples heard this, they were amazed and said, "Who can be saved then?" But Jesus looked at them and said, "It is impossible with man, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19: 13-26, ESV).
Given these verses, there are three clarifications I would like to make about salvation that I hope will help us think about them appropriately and answer our main question.
1. Salvation is not something we do, it is something that is done to us
Being saved is not a task or a notch that we have to put in our belts to make our lives better. If it were, it would be self-centered and hedonistic. It is not a temporary change in habits that would not matter. It is not a conversion to a number of religious beliefs that would be based on works.
Instead, it is a miraculous act of the Holy Spirit to redeem and regenerate our dead eternal spirits, to forgive us our sins for the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and to justify ourselves to a holy God for the substituting justice of Christ.
That is why Luke preached that "redemption cannot be found in anyone else, because there is no other name under heaven given to humanity by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Therefore, no matter what kind of prayer it is, prayer cannot save us. Only God can save us.
2. Salvation is not an event, but the beginning of a process
As salvation begins with the event of spiritual rebirth, it begins the lifelong journey of "sanctification" or separation and sanctification for God's purposes and enables us to mature through the work of the Holy Spirit. It then culminates in our "glorification," which is our final physical phase of our salvation, which takes place in heaven when we receive a new body and can spend eternity with God our Savior.
In any case, in the Gospels where someone accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they started to follow him. And even today, even if someone says the right words and ticks the right boxes, but if he doesn't hold on to that belief, it is evidence of a lack of true salvation in his life (1 John 2:19). Therefore, the idea of a one-time prayer to save us, to take us to heaven, or to keep us out of hell (if nothing else) is a grossly immature and inadequate view of salvation.
3. Salvation is not complicated, but neither is it easy
One of the simplest representations of scripture salvation is when the apostle Paul explains: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Because by believing in your heart you are done right with God, and by openly explaining your faith you are saved. "(Romans 10: 9-10, NLT). That was & # 39; s – bravely declare your belief to the outside and believe in Christ wholeheartedly.
At the same time, the work of salvation is not only not easy, but (as Jesus said in our text above) "impossible". What Jesus had to do to buy our salvation is the eternal opposite of “simple” as it can be.
Since Christ has already done all the work to offer us salvation, a certain prayer or series of sentences in our prayer is not necessary for someone to be saved. As long as you respond to God's grace from a heart of faith and belief, the rest of the details can be as different as the circumstances that led you to this moment of devotion to God.
What does that mean?
While there is no "sinner prayer" that saves us (and we should make sure that we never make anyone think differently), there is absolutely a kind of prayer that leads to our salvation in response to God's grace.
Perhaps the most appropriate thing would be to call this “prayer of devotion” because that's what we do. So if we pray with a sincere heart of faith and belief, whatever the words come from, Scripture will promise us that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
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Robert Hampshire is the pastor of Village Church in Churchville, Virginia. He has been married to Rebecca since 2008 and has three children, Brooklyn, Bryson and Abram. Robert attended North Greenville University in South Carolina for his bachelor's degree and Liberty University in Virginia for his master's. He has served in various roles as a worship pastor, youth pastor, family pastor and now as a pastor. He promotes his service through his blog site Pastoring a Village: Sermons, Thoughts, Devos. His goal in life is to serve God and his church by reaching the lost with the gospel, making devoted disciples, equipping and empowering others to continue in their faith and calling, and leading a culture of multiplication to the glory of God. Find out more about him here.