“A person isn’t saved by repeating a prayer, they are saved by repenting of their sins and believing in Christ”

The quote obviously is true.

However, in all truth, I believe an important reality cannot be ignored. This is that it cannot be disregarded that undoubtedly there would be countless numbers of people from the past to the present that have been saved by genuinely and heartily repenting of their sins and believing in Jesus Christ while repeating or confessing some sort of a prayer.

It is the words that are contained within a prayer for Salvation and the state of the heart and intention of the expresser in prayer that determine whether a person was truly saved at the time of confessing it.

Typically, “repeating a prayer”, or perhaps one may call it formally expressing “a sinner’s prayer”, can be an important means to help or guide people into the Faith. Perhaps surprisingly (or not), there are many people who do not know how to be Saved and thus it is fair to say that they may be ready in God to do so at the time of stating “a sinner’s prayer” or communicating some other expression of belief in Christ.

In other situations, people may have already been saved through some way and later decide to make a further Statement of Faith in affirmation of their belief in Christ. In other cases still, there would be people who are not sure if they are saved but are ready to tell God they genuinely believe in Jesus Christ at the time of a “formal prayer”.

On the other hand, undoubtedly, one can rightly assume that there would also be people that did not get saved when they repeated a prayer for Salvation perhaps because their prayer wasn’t genuine or maybe they were not ready or perhaps even the “guider of prayer” wasn’t genuine. Importantly, it must also be said that I don’t know if those who have expressed or believe the quote have spoken or written or regard other relevant words elsewhere in context that may affirm or do not diminish the power of a “repeated prayer” or other prayers. Thus, in this light, I am not necessarily concluding that the quote is a person’s “full” belief on the matter. I of course simply do not know.

That being said, it is of course assumed that there are many who support the quote though may not delve into the deeper substance of the ‘manner’ in which Salvation may take place. That is, if it is a person’s ‘full’ belief where one offers no elaboration or explanation of it then I assert that it is not appropriate to make such a “blanket” statement which credibly can strongly influence people against engaging in ‘expressing a prayer’ to God and therefore potentially becoming saved through it. This is particularly so in situations where God has willed or enabled that stating words of prayer is the way that a particular person will be saved or make a further or restorative affirmation of his or her Faith. In this respect, it goes without saying that God’s will for a person can and should never be discounted.

Moreover, the Word of God reveals that there are different “expressions” or “means” by which one can be saved through Jesus Christ, such as: Joel 2:32 (‘everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved’); Romans 10:9-10 (“whoever declares ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead”)(this can be likened to “repeating a prayer”); Mark 16:16 (‘whoever believes and is baptised’); and, Acts 10:44-48.

Acts 10:44-48 is an example that reveals how people can be saved without verbally stating a prayer. In this account, the Holy Spirit fell on the people as they were hearing the Gospel which represented that they had believed the message of Jesus Christ and it appears by the Text without them stating anything.

That said, in the case of ‘confessing’ Christ, or “stating a prayer”, there is the example of the man that was crucified next to Jesus who spoke to the Lord. He told Jesus, “remember me when You come into Your Kingdom” (Luke 23:40-43), and Jesus thus saved Him by His reply. The man simply stated this ‘prayer’ of belief in Jesus from his heart and became saved.

Thus, these examples above reveal that it is not the “method” or “way” through which one may be saved that is vitally important. Rather, as stated, it is a repentant heart and belief in Christ that saves people which can happen through diverse means and expressions which needs to be recognised. Therefore, the absence of an actual “sinner’s prayer” in the Bible does in no way make it unbiblical but rather a prayer of some sort itself is entirely biblical as above and as such saying a prayer does not mean that it is the actual ‘means’ of Salvation itself.

Therefore, if a person by the Holy Spirit is truly genuine through the manner of a “formal” or informal confession of belief while being guided and encouraged by another, or by doing so personally, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this. Rather, such and the above examples should be regarded as important ‘ways’ to enter the kingdom of God. Furthermore, in this respect, it really goes without saying that unfailingly and plainly logically God has used countless believers over the last 2000 years to assist a person through some type of guided confession in coming into His kingdom. Like many past and present, I too have witnessed many that have been saved through this way with ongoing evidence of Salvation occurring which the people can attest to themselves.

Thus, a simple and genuine ‘formal’ or ‘informal’ prayer, or a ‘statement of faith’ in Jesus Christ, is definitely regarded as an “avenue” through which one may be saved. Furthermore, other means such as tracts and “tenets of belief” may help prompt interested people in learning to understand what faith in Jesus Christ may ‘look like’ and even the ‘question’ of God itself and therefore they may find themselves personally praying to God for Salvation or being guided by another.

Even so, despite the above, it should still be said that believers should be careful to be led by the Spirit if offering prayer assistance to a potential believer. This is due to, as earlier stated, a person perhaps not being genuine or ready at the time and therefore not actually become saved. This is important to consider though, at the same token, Christians should bear in mind to be careful to not, as it were, “put God in a box” and thus effectively conclude outrightly that God cannot save a genuinely repentant person through intentionally using some sort of guided or informal prayer or ‘words’ which frankly would be an insult to the variety of ways God works and wills. This would be naive as it essentially ignores that words of some sort can and are often offered to God for the purpose of Salvation as above and certainly of course it is not impossible for God to effect this for the genuinely-minded person (Luke 1:37). After all, Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matt 7:7).

Thus, to reiterate, a genuine verbal proclaimation of Faith in Jesus Christ (like Rom 10:9-10) through whatever inspired manner is undoubtedly a way God would desire people to be saved when opportuned. Furthermore, as stated, it may be that God has willed that Salvation should happen for a particular person or many people within a group of people engaging in the ‘repeat’ of a ‘prayer’ to God. In any event, regardless of whether it is God’s specific will at the time for a person to be saved through any type of guided or even “model” prayer, the crucial issue nevertheless is that it can potentially be treated as a genuine desire for Salvation and therefore should not be downplayed or ridiculed. Thus, ‘repeating a prayer’ is not out of place and particularly because as stated the Holy Spirit could be prompting an individual or more people to at the one time receive Christ through the means of assisted prayer. Therefore, in this regard, it may be relevant to say that stating a prayer of some sort may actually be the only opportunity or way for a person and many people to enter God’s Kingdom throughout one’s life.

Thus, while important as it is to be cautious, it must be emphasised that the opportunity to offer or receive Salvation in this way should not always automatically be denied nor withheld nor routinely associated with automatic doubt as to a person’s ability to be Saved at the time of prayer. As mentioned above, it is without doubt that multitudes have been Saved through this way since the early Church and continue to be Saved.  Therefore, the “repeating of a prayer” should not routinely be denounced as being of little or no worth nor should it be easily misunderstood because the Price of missing Heaven is very high.