The Sinner’s Prayer Just Might Send You to Hell

1-2-3-pray-after-me and live like hell until you get to Heaven – secure salvation with a money back guarantee.

I have been in “Christian” circles that taught me that if I repeated a prayer word for word after a preacher or Sunday School teacher, then I was guaranteed a one-way ticket to Heaven. From that point, people are talked into getting wet in a water tank in the worship center and are given well wishes between that point and their journey to Heaven. What’s missing? Have these people been misguided?

People have used the “Sinner’s Prayer” as a guide to help people word what is in their hearts. This is a mass evangelism technique that arose a few centuries back. Now, it is used as a guarantee to Heaven while people are never discipled, meaning that no one invests in their s Ultimately, all they care about is reporting that this many people got “saved” today.

I know that some who are reading this may totally get mad with me. The truth is that I care enough about you to teach you truth rather than give you a false sense of security. In essence, repeating a “sinner’s prayer” making you a born again believer is about as valid as quoting the Pledge to the American flag makes you an American. It doesn’t. You’re just an individual who recited something. You may have been sincere, but it does not change your citizenship.

Jesus calls you to a new life. You leave the old behind to embrace His power. The Bible says that “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9).” Note this next part: “For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10).” A heart change is necessary to lead us to righteousness. When we have that heart change, we confess it to God and others. We may follow a format similar to what people call “the sinner’s prayer” or we can pray from our hearts without someone feeding us the words. If prefer to let people cry out to God for themselves. I want no connection with any kind of emotional manipulation.

Be sure that you didn’t repeat a prayer for convenience. If so, all you did was verbalize words. God calls us to repentance (a change of mind and heart). He makes all things new! If you aren’t any different, may God show you where you are, and may you turn your back against sin and turn your life toward full surrender to Jesus Christ.


20 thoughts on “The Sinner’s Prayer Just Might Send You to Hell

  1. I have often thought and felt this as I have gotten older. Our church, where I went when I was younger, and for a good bit of my adult life, focused so much on salvation, that everything else was pretty much ignored.
    I have only in recent years felt discipled and am learning how to live in Christ-something I should have been taught and made aware of years ago.
    Thanks for your blog and testimony.

  2. That’s exactly right! I was saved alone in my apartment because I cried out to God and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I had prayed that “Sinner’s prayer” every time I ever heard a preacher say, “Repeat after me…” and I ALWAYS did…But I never had a heart change until I surrendered my life back to the one who died for me! We are sending people to hell for sure if we tell them all they have to do is say a prayer!

  3. In all honesty this is so true. My old church seemed to care so much about numbers. Their heart was in the right place, but it is really hard to be a Christian, especially a new Christian without the tools.

  4. Without the heart giving meaning to the words the sinner’s prayer amounts to nothing more than a Christian magick spell. It’s a means of us bending God’s will in submission to ours.

  5. Thank you. This is good stuff.

    I wrote something similar last year entitled Salvation by Grace. I asked that if salvation is not by works, then aren’t altar calls and praying the salvation prayer or sinner’s prayer works?

    As for me, I prayed the sinner’s prayer every night while in bed, unable to sleep for about 400 consecutive nights. I finally stared at the ceiling and said, “I give up.” It was as if I heard a voice saying, “That’s what I have been waiting for.” I gave up using the ‘magic words’. I gave up holding onto control of my life. I surrendered all to God. In a way, it was NOT saying the salvation prayer that saved me.

  6. You are absolutely correct in your premise. It is not the sinner’s prayer that saves people. It is their change of heart. So one should just not lead someone to say the sinner’s prayer and say, “Okay, you’re done.” After that comes discipleship. Jesus led his disciples for three years, teaching them and modeling for them the life they should lead. We need to do no less with new Christians.

  7. Being saved(set apart) is a free gift for acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God who was born, lived out the ministry given to him by Yahweh, died on the cross and resurrected for us to live, being baptized into life. Sanctification and salvation (restoration) comes in the Kairos. We are not to judge what we only seen in part in other peoples walk with the Lords work within them.
    Please look and learn from Luke chapter 18
    and may you repent from your judgement of peoples walks with the Lord. If He has a problem with us He will deal with us personally. Grace and mercy are greater than Judgement and What is impossible for man is always possible with God.

    1. I completely agree with almost everything you have said. We do need to be extremely careful how we look at others and their walk with Christ. What is impossible with man is absolutely possible with God.

      But Jesus in teaching we are to take the plank or speck out of our own eye before the eye of our brother is just that. We must make sure we are on the right path. We must make sure what we see, what we talk is Christlike. God will definitely convict us personally, and you’re right we should never attempt to act like a judge the way God is. He is the true Judge, we are not.

      Jesus says once we take the speck out of our own eye, THEN we can take the speck out of our brothers. The teachings of Christ fully support we help keep each other accountable. We see this with Paul and how he led other churches and church leaders. He called them out for things that were not Christlike. Just like when Peter, when some men joined them to eat, did not sit with the Gentiles but only the Jews (for example).

      I think Pastor Winter’s post is not so much about judging others, rather warning and encouraging us all to really look at our walk with Christ. There are so many wolves in sheepskins like Christ warned us about the scattering of the sheep. Especially as a pastor, Pastor Winters is called to speak the truth. There are false teachers preaching lies, this is not a judgement but fact, and one Christ Himself also spoke on.

      We are told both by God and Jesus to speak the truth. 🙂 I hope my response is alright. Like I said, I really do agree with almost everything you said.

      1. Agreed, When it comes to the new born in Christ there needs to be much grace.
        Titles such as this headline is not so much full of Grace.
        The most powerful weapon in our battle is intercessory prayer, which happens to be the least exalting to ourselves because they don’t know that we are taking our petitions to the Throne for them.
        Listen, Listen, Love, Love is the least recognition for us but the Greater for God and His Kingdom.

        have a Blessed day

  8. Thank you for sharing this. Far too often it seems we welcome folks into the Kingdom of God after they say that prayer and then pat them on the head and send them on their way. The moment of salvation is the beginning of ones walk with the Lord, not the end!

  9. As the Apostle Paul stated in His Epistle that He knew He had not acquired or obtained anything. Only if He persevered would He obtain salvation. So we ourselves haven’t got anything as of yet except maybe being saved with the free gift. It is a FREE GIFT for acknowledging Jesus as the one and true Son of God, confessing this.
    Righteous indignation is the number one killer of Christians today. It is statements as like your title that can bring judgement on ourselves especially when we are a pastor and a teacher. I would consider removing this article for your own welfare and salvation.

  10. please, let us be reminded of the disciples who after Jesus picked them and set them apart and following him, had their own agendas, sat and drank wine talking about everyone else, lied and denied, threw temper tantrums, fell asleep at the most crucial moments and ran away for the fear of death, not to forget that someone got their ear taken off in the ensuing fight to save their own agendas and positions in the new kingdom, all the while following our given Lord and being “saved”. And let us also be reminded of what the word says Jesus did in return for their unappreciation and grief. The Word says that he treated them full of grace, setting aside their obtuse perceptions and ways, died at the opportune(Kairos) moment and risen to give them life and understanding of who he is and what he wants us to do. Then and only then could they (His disciples and followers) come to realize their mistakes, and then only then could they repent and follow Jesus in truth and in Spirit.

  11. I really enjoyed this post. This focuses on the difference between religion and relationship. Just like in the days of Christ believers then thought if they followed certain rules or particular ways it would be enough. Those actions had nothing to do with God, but it had everything to do with man, and we see this because Jesus openly talks about this issue.

    Keep writing the truth. If it is supported by scripture, then you are following His word. 🙂

  12. Hi brother, good mornin to you.

    I too used to lead people in sinner’s prayers, but I quit doing that practice entirely years ago.
    And I sympathize with the message in your article here.

    It’s sometimes a delicate line that distinguishes a Christian from a false convert isn’t it brother?

    I mean, sure, I too expect to see evidence of new birth to accompany a testimony.

    But a works righteousness person, (say some pentecostals for example) will tell you that it’s not of works, but will then often look primarily at works to validate a testimony. Are you smoking and watching TV? Then you probably aren’t saved… see what I mean?
    I mean sure, that stuff’s bad, but all of us have sins that we don’t show to others. So it’s a dicey thing to validate people’s testimony primarily on what they display in terms of sin abstinence. Mind you we should always turn away from our sins. I’m not endorsing sin in what I’m trying to communicate.

    Do you know what I look for Matthew to believe someone’s testimony?

    I look at what are they trusting in first and foremost, and as a secondary clue, I look for a new heart.

    If they tell me that Jesus is their only righteousness and their works aren’t a factor in their justification before God. I know right then that their testimony is valid.

    If they basically believe that, but aren’t really clear yet about how to articulate that, and I can see a circumcised heart in that person, I believe their testimony.

    So that’s just me buddy. I’m just sharing my thoughts with you.

    Have a nice day, and Lord bless you.

  13. Your post reminds of what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

    It’s kind of an important part to understanding salvation.

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