Commandments Concerning The Prayer

And when it shall come to pass that the invitation which never closes has once again been opened and the hymn shall be sung at length and the penitent shall walk the sinner’s trail down to the old fashioned altar that then shall he be led by the appropriate gender of altar worker in The Sinner’s Prayer. And the commandments concerning the praying of the prayer shall be thus…

The praying of The Prayer shall in any wise be preceded by The Question in which the altar worker shall inquire as to the reason for the sinner’s approach to the altar and establish whether he is a first-timer or a repeat customer. But as to the answer to the Question it matters not at all for the next step is the same either way.

And the altar worker shall in all cases provide the sinner with the correct words of The Prayer to say — for this is good and acceptable and not at all like those other memorized prayers the Catholics use. For The Sinner’s Prayer can in no wise be attempted by the penitent alone lest he fumble the words and lack a vital phrase and the Holy Ghost become wroth with Him and cast his soul into the outer darkness wherein dwell Presbyterians and other creeping things.

And even if the penitent shall claim to have prayed the prayer at his seat, he shall with all haste be made to say it again in front of at least one witness and then sign his confession for the record. For we know that a sinner cannot be trusted with The Prayer, since it is a big deal.

And if any person shall be so bold as to ask if anyone in the Bible ever prayed a prayer to “get saved” then shall they be labeled a troublemaker and be asked to say The Prayer themselves a few times for they are obviously in great need of it.

Independent Baptist Book of Everlasting Rules and Requirements, pp 11-12.

127 thoughts on “Commandments Concerning The Prayer”

        1. As a matter of fact, I’ve been busy making butt cushions for everyone. One with the PCC logo on it for you…. another with the PCC logo on it for Darrell…. Mardi Gras colors for Scorpio…

        2. Nice and masculine, Gary (as masculine as you can get with a butt cushion), and monogrammed, BG.

        3. Yes, indeedy! In lieu of lace (like mine has) around the edges, I’ve sewn in purple, green, and yellow beads.

      1. i don’t know. For me it was like (for lack of a better analogy) the dating process. God was trying to open my eyes to see him for who he was, and that DID take time. but the moment of realization came and at that point, i knew i had a choise to make. Spend my life with God, or go find something else. (Back to my dating analogy) The moment I called out to GOD {see below} is like when we said our vows. I was interested before that, but it wasn’t till i made a comitment to him that there was a true connection.

        does this make sense to anyone else? am i still showing deeply ingrained fundyness?

        1. I agree. My husband and I were just discussing this the other night. The drawing to Himself that God does may be a process, but I think there is a specific moment when we make assent to the truth of the gospel. I do think it’s possible we aren’t necessarily aware of what’s going on in that moment. For instance, say a kid prayed “The Prayer” when he was three but did it only to please grandma. At ten, he’s contemplating the things of God and thinks to himself, “Yes, Jesus is the only way. I trust Him.” In that moment, he passes from unbelief to belief, but he might not realize that it’s really the first time these truths have penetrated his heart having grown up believing that “The Prayer” at three was all that mattered. When he’s 20, he could probably look back and realize that he got saved at 10, not 3.

        2. I also agree. One of the blessing I have had is that my first IFB *recongnized* this. 😯 That and an emphasis on learning the Bible have kept me close to God, if not Fundieism.

        3. Seminarywife – You explained it exactly as I believe it. Also I believe that some 3-yr olds can grasp the message and receive God in their hearts, I think its rare, however James Dobson gives a wondereful testimony of calling upon and receiving Christ as a 3 yr old. I myself received Christ as a small child between 5-7, forgot to have my mom write it down in my brand new KJV. 😀

        4. I don’t think everyone has that one defining moment though. I’m not trying to be argumentative, just point out that there’s always going to be someone for whom it was a gradual process with no “ah hah” instant who thinks, “What’s wrong with me?” when people talk about “the moment.” 🙂 I remember clearly praying the prayer with my mom at 6 but I don’t regard that (or any other specific time) as THE one.

        5. Jess – I believe you are also correct, coming from a hard-core ex-fundy like myself that is saying something.

        6. Jess,

          My experience was similar. I had a lot of trouble doubting my salvation. I prayed The Prayerâ„¢ multiple times but still doubted. Many times after church I would go to the tract rack and pull one out to read. I would say The Prayerâ„¢ at the end just in case.
          I eventually realized that salvation had nothing to do with my feelings which were temporal and changeable. It has everything to do with God’s Word which is eternal and unchanging.
          I do not have a time that I can look back on, no date circled on the calendar. But I do know that I am trusting in God and His Word for my salvation.
          I had to realize that salvation does not consist of my feeling but rather His promises.

    1. Jess, I agree with you.

      To assert that everyone must have a “day and time” etched in their memory regarding their salvation is not beneficial, and I would say not biblical. Not everyone has a “Damascus Road” experience.

      The question should not be, “what date and exact time did you pray the sinner’s prayer prayer?” Instead, it should be asked,”Is the fruit of the Spirit manifesting itself in your life? etc”

      I contend that this is the legitimate, biblical model that Christians should use to evaluate whether they are saved, although most fundies would disagree with me.

    2. The closet you could get is Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou should be saved”: the simplest explanation there is.

      But it’s about what the man believed about Christ, not what he said, that would save him.

  1. This is so true on how they operate. I prayed my first prayer when I was five or so and never felt saved probably because I wasn’t. I prayed many, many times over the years “just in case”. One day I asked a BJU worker about “what if I hadn’t meant it enough” and was just told to pray it again then.

    I must say that when I got truly saved (and was well able to say my OWN prayer that sounded nothing like this) and trusted in Jesus rather than the prayer, that I felt the difference between the two “methods” immediately.

    1. And feeling the difference is what’s important right? No wait… Maybe the fact that you kept wanting to do it all those years indicated that you were okay all those years? wait..

      Maybe how you feel about it and whether you even prayed at all have nothing at all to do with it? That’s right- there’s no formula for “getting saved” in the Bible.

      1. I read one time that the apostle Paul needed a blinding light, a voice from heaven, and three days of disability in order to believe on Jesus. The wise men just needed a star. Everyone has their own salvation story. My mom can’t remember when/if she actually prayed “the prayer”, but she’s trusted the Lord for a very long time. I was one of those who used to say the prayer every year, just to be on the safe side, and then said it one day in principal’s office at my Christian school, partly to be *really* sure I was saved and partly to avoid receiving the punishment for which I was first sent to his office!!! My motive was not pure, but it was enough. All of us who have put our trust in the Lord Jesus are saved, however that happened.

  2. DANG IT! I told myself I was never gonna get saved again, and now I just did!! Thanks for nothing!

    I’m assuming Darrell’s tally board is gonna be adding a LOT of ink today? Every hit counts as a soul won, right?

  3. I know a man who worked as a missionary to seafarers and who met with a sailor who eventually became a Christian. There was another Christian on the same ship, the ship’s cook – but because the sailor had not said the sinner’s prayer, he wouldn’t accept him as a real Christian until he said it! Eventually the sailor did so, just so he could actually have some fellowship with the cook!

  4. Darrel, why isn’t “The Prayer” trademarked? 😉

    What really bugs me about “The Prayer” is when the pastor recites this “prayer” during the every eye closed portion of the service and asks people to pray it along with him. No matter how hard I try not to, I usually find myself mumbling along the words with him. 😳

    1. Ack! George got me again! I can’t believed I misspelled Darrell’s name.

      Also, to clarify, when the pastor asks for people to “repeat after him”, he is not wanting everyone to do this, only those who have need of salvation…

    2. I’d usually find myself saying it in my head along with the pastor too, then I’d feel guilty because real Christians know that you don’t have to get saved over and over and once saved always saved. So if you repeated a prayer AGAIN, it meant that you weren’t really saved because you didn’t have enough faith to really know that you knew that you knew that you knew you were saved. I’d feel nauseated and terrified and despairing because I didn’t know how to feel that self-assurance everyone else apparantly had.

      1. 2 1/2 Sin points for you:

        1. you have doubt, sister! You need help with your unbelief! can-i-gitta-haymen!

        2. you did a Vain Repatition (since this an infraction that has Catholic roots we must give you another 1/2 of sin point 👿

  5. Ah yes, the holy Magic Words of Fundamentalism.

    For some reason, these sorts of religious formulas remind me of Monty Python and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

    “And the Lord spake, saying, ‘First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three…”

    1. I am still waiting for the fulfillment of this prophecy, maybe if every SFLer prayed the prayer!? Come on now, you know you need to!

      “And the Lord did grin, and the people
      did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans
      and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large chu-“

  6. I sat alone in my beroom, weeping and in that blubbering trying-to-talk-while-crying-voice i said “Jesus …. Jesus …. Jesus.” I think he knew what was going on inside of me, and ta-da, it was all done. funny, i had prayed the prayer-in-a-box MANY times, but those never did it. The ‘Prayer’ can work, if is heartfelt, but too often it is just a means to reach a goal number for this years ____ conference.

      1. My experience was similar. God knew my heart. I have no doubt it is a process and that one has to be aware of one’s own wickedness WHEN COMPARED TO CHRIST and be humbled. One can only accept the Savior once one realizes one needs the Savior.

  7. After months of real conviction from God I simply bowed my head alone and told God “I give up, I’m tired of fighting You.” That was 19yrs ago. It was God and myself and I have NEVER doubted. I have seen coutless folks pray “The Prayer” and struggle with salvation for years. God doesn’t need salesmen. He is very capable.
    Looking at your illustration reminded me that my old fundy pastor believed that spelling Savior without a “U” was a clear sign that Bible publishers were changing the KJV! “Saviour” 😕

  8. The sinners prayer, I think, ends up confusing people. “Did I say the words right? Did I really mean it? Did I understand what I was saying? Was I too young?”

    I prayed this prayer and doubted the next day because I didn’t “feel” any different. My heart was in the right place but I didn’t realize it. I was more focused on the feeling. I prayed it again just in case.

    1. I had way too many students in my classes at Fundy Christian School who “got saved” every couple of years, just in case they didn’t do it right the first time. One year my entire class “got saved.” Supposedly this was some sort of revival. Until a bunch of them got saved again in high school . . .

      I used to doubt my salvation, too – did I say the words right? Did I understand? Was I saved to serve Jesus or just saved b/c I was scared of hell? Did I make sure to repent of my sins? Did I say the prayer out loud? Can I remember the date? No wonder people repeat the prayer again and again – with all those stipulations, everyone must doubt his/her salvation.

  9. Ah yes. The Prayerâ„¢. How many countless kids in “children’s church” have recited The Prayerâ„¢ over the years with their only motive being so they could get up before the other kids or be the first one to pick a treat out of the candy box.

    1. I can’t imagine giving kids a trinket for praying the sinner’s prayer. “You’ve just made a life-changing decision admitting your hopeless sinfulness and your acceptance of Christ’s death on the cross in your place. Here’s a yoyo.”

      1. PW, the one and only time I helped in children’s church, and found myself part and parcel of that sort of – yes I will call it blasphemy- I nearly reched. I NEVER went back there again.

  10. Anyone ever have a debate with your friends growing up about whether someone under conviction would go to heaven or hell if they died before they said The Prayer? That used to really confuse me before I realized that a person believes BEFORE he says The Prayer, and the Lord knows that the person believes. Then, of course, I realized that The Prayer was an unnecessary work that did not cause salvation, so why require it?

      1. Acts 16:31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

        Paul to the Philipian Jailer. no verbal prayer command … hummm

        1. Oh, and the jailer’s household even though no one other than the jailer actually made a profession.

          Just how does the jailer’s choice save his entire household? I understand this to mean his family and his servants/slaves. Doesn’t each person have to make a personal confession?

          Either each person has to make a personal confession or St. Paul wasn’t telling the truth.

    1. I heard that since Romans 10 says

      “9 That if thou shalt CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
      10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with THE MOUTH confession is made unto salvation.”

      The above scripture is the justification for us having to verbally “pray a prayer.” not sure if this is being taken in it’s proper context, or if other scripture coroborates this verbal-only claim.

      something i’ll have to look at. anyone have an answer to this?

      1. Confessing with your mouth might not be a prayer. It could be testifying at a baptism or a public confession when a person is accepted into a church. There is absolutely no reason that this would have to be a prayer except for the fact that it makes it easier for preachers like Finney and his spiritual progeny to count numbers and brag about how many people THEY saved. 🙄

        1. Wow. I never even considered that. The fact that confessing could be anything other than what I had been told (praying a prayer out loud) had never crossed my mind. What you just said makes perfect sense and is logical. Probably why I’ve never heard that passage preached that way.

          Sorry, It takes time to undo all that’s been twisted up.

      2. During the few weeks that our church had a basement Bible institute we discussed this. I was a hard-core fundy at the time but I was shocked to hear that some people did not believe that one could be saved unless you prayed out loud.

        Also, they did not believe that one could be saved from reading a Gospel tract. “For faith cometh by hearing” not reading! This, of course, led to a long discussion about whether deaf people could get saved since they could not hear.
        I wish I were kidding.

        1. “…This, of course, led to a long discussion about whether deaf people could get saved since they could not hear.”

          SFL: Getting wrapped around the axle on insignificant issues.

  11. There was a constant flow of people getting assurance of their salvation at our exfundy church. I’m convinced “the magic prayer” is why.

    Once a 1st grader, not only was baptized after “salvation” but, surrendered to full time service as a missionary. The pastor had her join him at the pulpit as the church prayed for her. It was her fifteen minutes of fame. I often wonder what will happen to her when she begins to desire another path for her life. I suspect she not dare tell a soul. After all “her flesh is probably just fighting it.” (That is what our pastor told the parents of a young man who did not what to enter full time Christian service.)

    Pastors and teachers at the church would pat her on the head and call her “the little missionary.” Such a tall order for one so young who most likely doesn’t have the slightest clue what she signed up for. 😥

    1. Bless…her…heart. What a heavy burden for a 1st grader to bear! I can’t imagine the mental strain she will likely be under should she later choose a different path, and even if she DOES decide to become a missionary… can you imagine the pressure of everyone looking at you your whole childhood as “the little missionary?” So much pressure to be “good!”

  12. Once, while working the altar, a guy came gorward, we all knew he was a not-quite-recovering alcoholic. When he said the sinners prayer, he switched “come into my heart” to “come into my liver.”

    The MoG almost had an attack of Pharisaic-correctness.

    I think this was one dude who really “got it.”

    1. “Liver” was correct in his case.

      The ancient Egyptians believed that the liver was the seat of emotions. They thought we think with our hearts. The brain was just a lump of fat, as far as they could tell, so they threw it away when they embalmed people and preserved their hearts, livers, and intestines.

      We follow that tradition when we send Valentines with “heart-shaped” figures on them, which are really shaped more like human livers than like hearts.

      Oops, getting pedantic again. 😳 Sorry.

        1. Every time I’m in one of those churches my “bowels” are affected and I have to seek an exit.

        2. @fmx Maybe you should go down to the altar and “Leave it there.”

          (Now there’s a Theologically challenged song.)

  13. In my weird corner of Fundyville, they were against easy believism. And to counteract it, they instituted hard-believism. I had a cousin who went to the altar over a dozen times and would beat the floor with his fists and “beg” God to save him. This kid was 8 years old and walked around fearing hell because he wasn’t able to “pray through.” He finally got saved at home with his parents. There was one church in particular where the pastor was always using phrases that lead me to compile this list of things you must do to be saved:
    1. Believe with all your heart
    2. Confess every sin you’ve ever committed
    3. Be willing to give up everything else
    4. Do business with God
    5. Weep
    6. Beg

    When I was little, I doubted my salvation because I had heard the preacher say that you had to be willing to give up everything in your life for God to save you. I would think about all of my toys and my bicycle and stuff like that and though it grieved me, I would conclude that I could live without those things to avoid hell. But when it came to my parents, I would imagine having to literally give them up in order for Jesus to save me and I would doubt my sincerety because I was only 7 and how would I take care of myself if I lost my parents so that I could be saved? That’s the logic of a child and that’s why MOG’s should be more careful about the shit they spew from the pulpit. I am still warped from the shit I had to wade through to get out of that bastion of willful ignorance. Every time I post, I am pissed by the end of it. I am glad that I am so messed up. It makes me know I need more of Jesus and less religion, especially that old-time religion.

    1. ^The above is so sad to me, because I did stuff like that. And you know what’s awesome? My parents say stuff like, “Wow, you’re really messed up/strange, aren’t you?” when I tell them about it. Yeah, guys. Seven-year-olds are real theologically erudite, which should enable them to sift through the junk that’s thrown at them by SS teachers…

      Sometimes all you can do is shrug your shoulders, because the only other option is to have a mental breakdown. And we know Christians don’t do that psychological-meltdown stuff.

  14. I am sorry to tell you Darrell but this prayer would not save anyone. Did you not see the non-KJV spelling of “savior” with a lower-case S? You heretic! You are a deceiver sent to make people doubt the KJV!

    You need to pray the prayer right now! 😉

    1. I am so thankful Apathetic pointed out this heresy because I was almost ready to pray this prayer and ask this six-letter savior (Antichrist)into my heart. Now I will pray The Prayer and ask only the seven-letter Saviour (the Real Christ) into my heart.

    2. Brother Darrell,

      I was looking at your prayer, and I’m concerned for you. I noticed (as did others) the misspelling of “saviour” and wondered if perhaps there was malicious intent on your part, or just a casual misspelling.

      I got to lookin’ at your “prayer” and realized a few things, brother. First, there are 540 characters (including spaces) in your prayer. Now we know, brother, that the spaces, they ain’t inspired, so we removed them spaces leaving us with 424 letters.

      Now we know that you have removed the “saviour” from this prayer, and if we numeratize his name (z=1, y=2, x=3) we get us the number 84. Since you done yanked him outta the prayer, so will I. 424 – 84 = 340.

      I also noticed, and this is just me tryin’ to be a blessing, that you have “I and me” an awful many times in your prayer. We all know that we have nothin’ to do with our salvation, so YANK ‘EM OUT!! 340 – 7 = 333

      Now I ain’t a rocket scientist, brother, I’m just a good old boy, but that number sure looks a lot like another one I know, and it ain’t a pretty one! You account for the duality of man … and you got 666!

      Why don’t you pray about it and come back and talk to me after you had time to think about this.

      1. I went to a Baptist (non-fundy) college, and in my Old Testament class, we learned Jewish numerology…I don’t remember *too* much of it, but I do remember that the number 3=God, and 3 three times is the number of God….so, I’m actually thinking this prayer is pretty legit, according to your numbers! (I’m totally kidding about the prayer being legit, btw. I loathe this prayer as much as I loathe most repetition…not because of what it says so much as how overused it is).

        1. Hey, just had a great idea when “The pastors and his flunkies” start touring we’ll have shoe work up alittle act and he can open for the band.

          Then Darrell can really have some sweet income. 😀

  15. I don’t really disagree with the words of The Prayer, but I strongly disagree with the use of it as a magic spell. As I said the other day, the saying of any particular set of words is neither necessary nor sufficient for salvation. God alone does the saving, and nothing we do can bring about our own salvation. To say otherwise strikes me as a pretty serious heresy.

    1. Under conviction I go down
      To the altar
      For my next ’round
      ‘Round and ’round and ’round I goes
      Will I get saved? nobody knows

      Every time there’s and altar call
      I run down and on my knees I fall
      I wanna confess that I’m a sinner
      Say the prayer led by the Soulwinner

      Abra-abra-cadabra
      It wants to reach out and grab ya
      Abra-abra-cadabra
      Abracadabra

    2. Well said, Big Gary. I too appreciate the intent behind the prayer, but to too many, it’s become an incantation that transforms you instead of grace through faith. Also, I have a problem with the “mean it with all your heart.” How many agonies this has caused sensitive souls wondering if they REALLY meant it!!!

  16. Clearly Darrell is quoting from the New International Version of the Independent Baptist Book of Everlasting Rules and Requirements
    His version uses the “altar worker” in place of “Soulwinner” which we find in the 1611 Authorized Independent Baptist Book of Everlasting Rules and Requirements. I don’t know if I can continue fellowshipping with such liberalism. 😯 😉

  17. I had to take a test to be an AWANA leader. A male leader had me tell him from memory the sinner’s prayer. When I finished he said I missed a step. I forgot the line at the end, “Lord please save me now.” I guess if I’d led any kids without that line those kids would have been doomed.

  18. Darrell, this prayer covers ALMOST all the bases, but it omits one essential part: it doesn’t mention that Christ rose from the dead!!! It’s not enough that He died but that He conquered death and rose again! Romans 10:9 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Yes, it does say believe in the heart, but out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, so if you believe He rose again, you should say it!

    I’m afraid the efficacy of the above prayer must be called into question since this essential doctrine was not included.

  19. I remember as a child (and even as a teenager) always being confused on what the “magic formula” for being saved actually was… it was all so confusing and complicated – the repentance, acceptance, surrender, acknowledgment, “believing”, public testimony (by immersion of course), and all that. I never was sure if I had done enough or if I was missing something. Therefore, I prayed “The Prayer” so many times I had it memorized in every translation (b/c it IS of course, the inspired prayer of God) 🙄 I never understood why everyone said that salvation was completely free and that you can’t work your way to heaven, but then the process of “accepting” that “free gift” was so freaking complicated and difficult! 😕

  20. Most annoying thing in the world is when I’m reading a nicely-written, well-referenced tract or something where Biblical verses are cited to point out the sinful nature of man, why Christ came to die, his death, how all you have to do is believe and you are saved… and then at the end they tack on The Prayer.

    I didn’t get saved in a church, I didn’t get saved with anyone else around (anyone else awake, anyway… my sister was in the other bed sound asleep because it was the middle of the night!), I didn’t even really pray a prayer. It just struck me, all of a sudden, that God was holding out salvation to me. All I had to do was accept it… and I did. Best day of my life, obviously!

    Well, at least until I heard all your wonderful stories here. Now I feel like the Lord has been cheating me all these years. I didn’t get to stand up in front of everyone! No choirs of angels, no pastors shaking my hand, not even the quietest HAYMEN. Clearly I’ve been missing out. 😛

  21. Darrell,

    Be specific on how one should get saved, if in fact you are. No there is not a set prayer, but the Lord himself gives us a sample prayer of how to pray. An unbeliever does not know how to talk to God, so they may need guidance. Anyone can pray, but was the heart prepared by the Holy Spirit or were they going through the motions because they were told to? Is that your point?

    1. And the notion that a human being “does not know how to talk to God” is preposterous. Maybe you have rejected the whole notion of creator & maker yourself?

  22. Isn’t it asmazing that we’ve taken the GREAT news of Jesus & His salvation & almost turned it into a law of bondage, if you don’t know the exact date, if you didn’t REALLY mean it with ALL your heart, if you missed a “step”, etc etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum……. Thank You Jesus for Your wonderful salvation that justifies us from ALL THINGS!!!!! (Ac.13:38f). Boy I can sure speak from hard experience on this one! 😯

  23. Yet another example of poor/incorrect/errant theology. Nowhere in the Scriptures does it ever say that Jesus comes into anybody’s hearts. The Holy Spirit indwells AFTER we “get saved” (whole nother discussion). Jesus performed the work of paying the penalty of our sin on the cross, satisfying God the Father’s demand for just payment of sin, and then Holy Spirit indwells a person at the time of salvation – three seperate parts of the Trinity with three seperate “areas of responsibility” in salvation. So at the end of the day, those who hold to “The Sinners Prayer” hold to unbiblical doctrine and have absolutely no understanding of the differences in the 3 parts of the Trinity…this os just one of many many examples of unbiblical theology concerning this view of “acquiring salvation”

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