In a blog this week, I addressed the question of whether or not the “prayer of salvation” actually saves you. More thoughts along these lines from Phil Cunningham’s blog:
When I was in Haiti last week I had this conversation with a man who
was part of a team of doctors and nurses at a clinic we were serving at.
My friend and I were asked to pray for the people coming out of the
clinic. So, as I would normally do I sat down with the people coming out
and asked them if they wanted prayer and if they did I asked what they
needed prayer for. Then, I would pray.
I prayed for a few people like this before Big D (not real name) came
up to me and asked how many people I had lead in the sinners prayer. I,
to his surprise told him that no one had prayed the sinners prayer. He
responded by saying that getting them to say the prayer was the main
thing that we needed to get the Haitians to do. Our conversation
continued. “Do they know who they are asking to save them” I asked. “Do
they know who they are confessing their sins to and who they are asking
to come into their lives? Do they even understand what Jesus did for
His response was classic. “They know who Jesus is, we just need to
get them to say the prayer. If they got hit by a car tomorrow and didn’t
say the prayer today they would go to Hell.” Now I agree, salvation
comes to those who believe, but is it up to us to make people believe?
Does saying a prayer that isn’t backed up by faith and lifestyle even
Big D and I continued to talk. “What about discipleship” I asked.
“Discipleship? We are in a third world country” D said, “we don’t have
time for discipleship. Discipleship is the job of the Holy Spirit, not
us.” If you are fuming mad right now then welcome to my life. The
difference was that I had to face this dude and have this conversation
in the 100+ degree heat while people were coming out of the clinic for
During our conversation a lady came out and he sat her down and asked
her if she was a Christian. “No” she said. Big D asked her if she
wanted to become a Christian, to which she responded “yes.” So, D asked
her to repeat after him. “Jesus, forgive my sins. Come into my life and
save me. Amen.” After this D looked at me and said “that’s how we do
it.” Then I repeatedly round-house kicked him to the face, just kidding.
After the amen the girl went downstairs to get her food and gift bag.
D and I continued debating this. He told me that he believed the most
important thing is to get people to say the prayer. It didn’t really
matter about discipleship or any of that, what mattered was the prayer.
Throughout the day D got many people to say the prayer. I am sure he was
counting how many people had come to the Lord. This is how I was when I
was younger, but somewhere along the line that changed. Now I still
believe with all my heart and being that in order to be saved you need
to come to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is God’s son and the savior
of the world. That He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life on
earth and died and rose again to conquer sin and death. I believe this,
but I also believe that following Jesus is a lifestyle, a relationship,
not just a one time decision that is done through a 12 word prayer.