While what is commonly called the sinner's prayer is a favorite for many to use with someone responding to the gospel it also comes with many trappings. It is my opinion that many, mostly unintentionally, have learned to rely on the prayer as some form of magical key that opens the door to heaven, as they often present the gospel and then include all you have to do to be saved is say this prayer ... that is not true! There is so much more to the salvation process including the work of the Holy Spirit that brings to light the reality of sin and our guilt before a holy God. The Holy Spirit must lead us through the repentance process that brings about a change of mind that leads to a new heart, new life. The sinners prayer cannot be more than a affirmation to what God has already done in the heart and mind of the person. Yet, especially in VBS, we find the sinner's prayer used as "if you say this then you are saved" the leaders will then pat them on the back and pronounce them as members of the family of God. While it is true some may have just affirmed their salvation (transformation) others leave with a false assurance trusting in the prayer rather than the Savior. The same is often true when we look at the Word of God (Bible). Too often we find people's faith in the Bible instead of in the One to whom the Bible points us. The Bible, as precious as it is, is not may Savior ... Jesus is.
I do not believe this is your intent, but I feel the need to point this out for those who read this page because I am convinced that churches have multitudes in them of the unsaved religious who think they are saved because they once said a prayer and someone pronounced them saved.
Amen LT, I have come back to this post so many times.....it is more about following. "Follow Me", says the Lord Jesus Christ. I, too, feel this can be a false assurance for many.
Yea, I just sat on my hands hoping someone else would step up on this one. lol
David, there are several aspects to this topic. While it is true that we receive the Holy Spirit at new birth, when we receive Jesus, it is also true that we are being worked on by the same Holy Spirit before we get to the point of conversion. Repentance is more than a moment in time where we turn from sin and turn to God. This act of turning is only possible because Holy Spirit has been opening our eyes, minds and heart in preparation for the time we receive Jesus and are transformed. Thus, attempting to keep this short, repentance is a process (in fact the definition of repentance is "change of mind"). This change of mind leads to a change in direction, but that change of direction does not precede the Spirit's work, for if it does it is only religion. When a person is ready they do not need the sinner's prayer to seal the deal, when they are truly ready no one will keep them from Jesus. The sinner's prayer can be a affirmation, but it also comes with so many trappings when improperly used.
With that said I return to the original topic ... the prayer often called the sinner's prayer. It is easy to get people to say it, especially kids. It is easy to get people to say it when we promise them heaven and all of the benefits that come with going to heaven (Again, not saying this is you, but I have witnessed the abuse/misuse first hand, especially dealing with people who were proclaimed saved to only one day realize they had not been). The problem is not getting people to say the prayer, but rather being sure that they are responding to the work fo the Holy Spirit and not simply reciting a rote prayer that apart from the Spirit's drawing one to Jesus has no eternal value, and in fact can actually build barriers when improperly shared.
I don't like to be picky, but I know I come across that way at times, but words matter. You stated that "I really hope that we keep unity." I agree, depending on how we use the term unity. Again, another word that is often tossed about, but not always used correctly. You and I can walk in unity because of our love for Jesus and shared union with Him, but we may not agree on every topic. There are many topics that, though important, are not essentials to the faith (what that list is is debatable as well :-) There is an old saying that I like, forget who said it ... "In the essentials, unity; in everything else, grace."
It takes a lot to get banned from AAG. You are not even ruffling the feathers :-) We are a ministry and at the same time we are all here to learn. We can agree to disagree on many non-essentials. We encourage interaction and hope you continue.