3 thoughts on “What started the sinner’s prayer?

    1. As I say in the video, there has been a change of theology and understanding of how a person is converted that has brought this about. Up until the beginning of the nineteenth century it was generally believed that no one could be converted unless there was a significant prior movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of an individual. Nowadays anyone at any time can say a sinner’s prayer and, providing they do so “sincerely”, it is believed that they are saved. However, God may not be working in their lives and they may have little idea of who Jesus is or what the Gospel is. Such “conversions” I believe are highly questionable. There are fuller answers in both my Sinners Prayer and Altar Call books. Feel free to ask more.


  1. As I am sure you would appreciate, it is impossible to tell “everything” about this issue in this medium. However, the background to the introduction of the sinner’s prayer was theological change. In the nineteenth century the evangelical theology of evangelism and conversion underwent considerable change, which led to a change in evangelistic method and the understanding of conversion. As late as the early nineteenth century probably no one believed that a person could be converted through the saying of a prayer of the type one sees in “4 Spiritual Laws.” Rather the general belief was that God had to do a significant work in a person which sometimes would take weeks, months or even years, before a person could be saved. Today, in contrast, many believe that if a person says a sinner’s prayer “sincerely”, then they are automatically saved, even if they do not know much about Christ or His Gospel. The Sinner’s Prayer often seems to function like a magic incantation.


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