You may have heard of what is sometimes referred to as the prayer of salvation. Personally, I am a believer in all of the scriptures in the Bible (when it’s read in context) – the poetry, history, and letters found in the Bible. I believe it all. I believe the story. I believe that God sent His son Jesus to earth so that we might be forgiven of our sins and live a life with and for God, ultimately in a place called Heaven.
Having a true relationship with Jesus and trusting Him for the forgiveness of sin is not something that you automatically inherit because your parents were Christian. Nor does it happen by osmosis because you attended church all of your life. It requires a choice.
When we speak of a “prayer of salvation” it’s much more than rotely reciting a prayer we might have heard and may not mean. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is so much more than just stating a prayer. However, giving your life to Christ in a true prayer of salvation is the fundamental turning point of your life. It can be the time when a person submits their lives to Christ, acknowledging their sins and trusting that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
There must be a time or season in your life when you connected with Jesus Christ in a way that brings a heart change to you. At that point, you genuinely become a Christian.
In one of pastor Louie Giglio’s sermons, he gave a definition of a Christian that reads like this:
“To wholeheartedly and exclusively trust in the person and the claims of Jesus Christ, activating a new birth that results in a lifestyle that mirrors His values, teaching and ways so that others may see and know Him.”Pastor Louie Giglio
A prayer of salvation is our statement of faith to Christ that we believe and trust Him, and also our plea to Him that we would be forgiven of our sins and brought in right standing with Him. A prayer of salvation is a tool to help and encourage you in that wonderful and supernatural transaction that can only be done with the power of God.
There are no exact and specific words that must be said. It is much more about what a person means in their heart rather than the exact wording. It is an act of believing that Jesus Christ is Lord, turning from your sins, and accepting His forgiveness. At LivingPraying.com we ultimately want people to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A prayer of salvation might go something like this.
Lord, I realize that I have failed in many ways. I recognize that I am a sinner, but that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again so that I might be forgiven and have eternal life. Jesus, I ask you right now to come into my life, forgive my sins, and make me new. I submit to You and give my life to you. I accept You as my Savior and I now thank you for what you have done for me.
This prayer above is not magic and is only as good as a person’s true intention behind the prayer. The same prayer could be said in many different ways, longer or shorter. The key is turning to and giving your life to Him.
Mankind’s Search For The Supernatural
Deep in the heart of mankind, there is what some people call a “God-shaped” void or hole that exists that only a great supernatural force or being can fill that void. As Christians, we know that it is the One True God, whose Son is Jesus Christ, and the other part of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit that empowers and lives in the lives of Christians on earth.
While many people chase occult practices like psychic readings, tarot cards, zodiac signs, and a plethora of other non-Christian pathways, Christians put their faith in, and entrust their eternal salvation to the God of the Bible.
So, we have given one, of many examples that we could give of the Prayer of Salvation, let’s talk about the story in general. Why do we even need to turn to the God of the Bible?
Why Do We Need a Prayer of Salvation?
First, the reliable source of information that contains what Christians believe to be divinely inspired information for our lives is the Bible. In the Bible, we see the most epic of stories that begins with the creation of the world, and then early on in scripture, we see that man and woman were created. Yep, you got it right. Adam and Eve. Christians don’t believe that it’s just a fable.
God basically gave Adam and Even a good deal. He put them in the most lavish of places that we could possibly imagine. It was called the Garden of Eden in the scriptures. They really had it made there! You could probably tell a bit of the rest of the story yourself, right?
So, you might recall that God gave them the ability to make choices, and He gave them a huge one. He told them that they could eat from every tree in the garden, except one. If they ate from that one that was forbidden they would surely die. Would they die physically? Yes, eventually. But dying spiritually? That would happen immediately.
Well, Eve happened to fall into temptation first and ate from the forbidden tree, then her husband Adam did so as well.
So, they had been without sin, in perfect union with God, and living in a perfect world. However, their choice of rebelling against God started a huge chain of events that brought corruption and decay to them. However, not only to them – but to the planet as well.
And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.Genesis 3:17
The Inheritance of Our Sin Nature
Unfortunately, after Adam and Eve, everyone (except Jesus, which is explained by the Virgin Birth) was born with an inherited sinful nature.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.“Romans 5:12
Ouch! This is sometimes called the Doctrine of Original Sin. It means that you inherited your sinfulness and are, in essence, a sinner even if you could somehow lead a perfect life – which you can’t. Either way, without the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, applied to us, we stand as unforgiven sinners.
So, everybody checks into planet earth with what is actually a dead spirit corrupted by the nature of inherited sin. You don’t have to be a thief, adulterer, murderer, or bank robber to be a sinner. We are sinners by nature. We also are sinners because of our inability to adhere to God’s law – the Big Ten, his moral law, or the Ten Commandments.
Have you ever coveted? Have you ever taken the Lord’s name in vain? Have you ever committed adultery? Maybe on that one, you say, no. But God’s law reaches into the heart. Jesus told us that even if you have lusted for someone in your heart you are still guilty of adultery.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.” But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:27-28
This sin thing is really big in God’s eyes, and if we are wise, it will be to us.
God Had a Plan
The first portion of the Bible known as the Old Testament shows us God’s relationship with His chosen people, Israel. Some of the old testament is very confusing especially if you only give it a cursory reading and don’t study it. We must understand that it’s about God keeping a relationship with Israel, protecting the lineage of Jesus Christ, and eventually bringing His plan of redemption and forgiveness through His Son, Jesus.
The children of Israel were eventually given the Ten Commandments and hundreds of other laws that they basically couldn’t keep, nor could we. We couldn’t come close to keeping even the ten commandments. So, we all stand before God having broken His law, and needing forgiveness so that we can be in right standing with God. He also instituted the Old Testament sacrificial system for the Israelites that would serve as the substitutionary payment of sin until the true spotless Lamb (Jesus) would take upon Himself all sins.
The News Gets Really Good
It wasn’t that the Law or the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was wrong or evil – not at all. But God ultimately had a perfect solution planned.
So, Jesus checks into planet Earth as a baby. The Savior of the world in a manger. A large portion of the world celebrates His birth at Christmas even when they don’t understand the story.
That baby grew up to adulthood to heal the sick, raise the dead, help the poor, walk on water, and do tons of other miracles. However, most of all, by God the Father’s plan, Jesus was killed taking all of the sins of the world upon Him as He was executed on one of the most sinister of execution methods ever devised – crucifixion.
The Center Of Our Salvation
Christmas is the most popular Christian holiday. However, there is none more important and spectacular than the holiday that celebrates the most important moment in world history. Of course, I’m speaking of what we refer to as Easter. That’s the day on which we celebrate Jesus coming back from the dead, stepping out of the tomb forever defeating the grave, death, and the Enemy of God – Satan. He did so to give us a pathway out of sin’s destruction that started in the Garden of Eden.
Without that resurrection, our faith is of no value. Those are not my words. They are from the Apostle, Paul.
“And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.”1 Corinthians 5:17
The Prayer of Salvation: What Does “Born Again” Mean
In Jesus’ day, there was a Pharisee, a man of the Jewish ruling council who was very well respected. He came by night to see Jesus and we suppose that it was because he was afraid to be seen with Jesus during daylight hours. Nicodemus had some serious questions and wanted a truthful answer about this man who had been ministering to people, healing people, making the lame walk, and restoring sight to the blind.
This is where Jesus introduced his concept of being born again. Let’s look at a portion of their conversation.
“There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”John 3:1-5
In this passage, Jesus uses the term “born again.” That means that you turn away from your sin, giving your life to Jesus, and He applies His death and resurrection to you and your sins are paid for. You become a new person.
Oh, you may have the same personality traits – some good, some bad. However, you will have received the Holy Spirit of God into your life who will stay with you, direct, help teach, and guide you until you enter your eternal destination of Heaven.
In other parts of the Bible, this experience is called “being saved.” You may have heard that term before. In the book of The Acts of The Apostles, the missionaries, Paul and Silas, were beaten and thrown in jail because of the ministry that had been done for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
However, at about midnight in the prison, they were actually singing and praising God. was a large earthquake that shook the prison so violently that the prison doors flew open and every chain fell off of the prisoners. The jailer woke up and saw the doors wide open and just assumed all of the prisoners had escaped which would probably mean death for him.
The jailer pulled out his sword to kill himself, but Paul shouted to him “Stop, don’t kill yourself! We are all here.” I can’t imagine the impact this had on the jailer as he had seen these men praise God in some of the most miserable circumstances of their lives, yet they still didn’t flee the jail when they had the chance. So, let’s pick up the story there.
“The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household.Acts 16:29-32
They went on to the jailer’s house that night and he and his family believed and placed their trust in Jesus and were baptized that very evening.
So, being “born again,” “being saved.” “trusting Christ as Savior,” and many other terms used in Christianity are used to denote the act of surrendering your life to Christ and therefore becoming a Christian.
The Prayer Of Salvation: Must I Be Baptized?
In the story above about the jailer and his family, we see that they were all baptized that night. That was awesome. When we are born again, God instructs us to be baptized. However, it is not being baptized that makes you born again or saved. Baptism is simply a symbolic testimony to the world that the sinful nature of the person is dead and buried, and now they are raised to a new life of freedom in Christ.
Should Christians get baptized? Yes. It is a wonderful act of submission. It’s actually one of the first acts of obedience that God asks a new Christian to fulfill.
But still, to answer the question, “Must I be baptized in order to receive Christ as my Savior or be saved?” The answer is no. However, why would we want to disobey one of the primary instructions that God gives us after we receive Him as Lord? Why would we want to start our new Christian life being disobedient to God by not engaging in the wonderful testimony of Baptism?
Prayer of Salvation? The “Sinner’s Prayer” Under Attack
There has been quite a bit of debate between pastors and theologians in the last few years about what has long been called the Sinner’s Prayer which is simply some example versions of prayers given to help those who desire a relationship with Christ. We gave one of these at the top of this article. A sinner’s prayer, which can be worded in many ways, is used as a guide for someone who wants to receive Christ as their Savior but didn’t know exactly what to say to God.
However, the idea of this prayer gets criticized quite a bit because there are situations where many are asked to repeat it without a proper understanding of what they are saying or actually meaning it.
Certainly, there is a danger in that. Just rotely saying those words of the example sinner’s prayer that we gave earlier on this page won’t save you. However, if you are sincere, repent, and accept Jesus’ sacrifice, asking for His forgiveness of your sin, then you will be saved (born-again).
It’s important to emphasize again that just saying words won’t do it alone. It is the attitude and expression of what is in your heart and soul that is important. When you turn to Jesus to truly trust Him as your Savior, He understands your intent even if the words seem insufficient. It’s not about the perfection of the prayer. It’s about the perfection of your God!
He looks at the intent of the heart. You could say the most eloquent and beautiful prayer of repentance of all times, but not mean it, and remain lost in your sin. On the other hand, your words could be all jumbled up but the intent of your prayer is pure and God will give you a brand new life in Christ!
So, men can debate the pros and cons of what type of prayer to say, or what words to say. However, if you genuinely admit that you’re a sinner, turn to God, giving your life to Him – trusting Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins you can be assured that He will hear you and make you a true Child of God.
You Can’t Be Good Enough To Earn God’s Salvation
If there was another way that we could have been good enough to fix ourselves and obey the laws of God, then Jesus wouldn’t have had to suffer a cruel death for us.
However, He did. Always keep focused on the fact that He didn’t stay dead. The resurrection of Christ is the linchpin of the life and faith of a Christian. Jesus rose from the grave to seal the deal, defeat Satan (the enemy of God), and bring us life in Christ.
Examine the prayer of salvation above and see if it resonates with your heart’s longing. If you have not already I hope you will consider trusting Christ as your Savior, turning away from your sins, and committing your life to Him. That won’t make you perfect nor does it mean that you will never sin again. However, your past, present, and future sins will be forever forgiven, you can be rid of your guilt from the past, and live in the freedom and grace of the King of Kings!
Blessings to you as you consider life’s greatest decision, “what will you decide about Jesus Christ?”
Brian is a Christian Blogger and website developer and has served over 35 years as a Pastor of Worship and various Associate Pastor roles in several churches in the state of Georgia. He earned his Education degree from North Georgia State University and attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife live in southern Hall County, GA.
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