24 Feb The $5 Sinner’s Prayer
The other day my wife, Karen, was channel surfing when she came across a very well known preacher who’d just finished his Sunday morning message.
With a perpetual smile on his face, the preacher said something like, “As it is our custom at this church, we’d like to give everyone the opportunity to become a Christian. So, if you want to become a Christian, please repeat after me.” He then went on to pray a traditional sinner’s prayer. What got my attention was what he said after he finished the prayer.
“If you repeated this prayer, you’re now a Christian. Make sure to find yourself a good Bible teaching church,” continuing to smile, he proclaimed.
His statement reminded me of the something that happened to me over 35 years ago.
In those days many people hitchhiked. I’d been one of them for several years. So, when I finally bought me first car, wanting to pay my debt back to all those who’d at one time or another given me a ride, I’d picked up any hitchhikers who came across my path.
One particular day going home from work, I picked up this homeless guy off the freeway on-ramp. He was a tall thin man in his 40s. As soon as he got inside the car, he began coughing and sneezing blowing his nose in the used tissue paper I had stuck in my ashtray—Yes, those days all cars had ashtrays.
As it was my custom when I had a hitchhiker in my car, I began to share the Gospel with the man. Before I could even finish my sentence, he stopped me and said something that I’ll never forget for as long as I live. Very calmly and as a matter of fact he said, “FOR $5 I’LL REPEAT THE SINNER’S PRAYER FOR YOU.”
I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. I’d never had someone selling me his sinner’s prayer. He honestly thought he was doing me favor. Apparently, he’d been through this many of times and by now he’d realized that by repeating some words, he was going to give me a satisfaction of thinking I’d brought him to Christ and therefore I owed him a few bucks. Well, $5 to be exact.
Is it really true that by repeating some words, one automatically becomes a Christian? Only the Lord knows since it is the faith in our hearts and not just the confession our mouths that saves us (Rom. 10:9). Could the above man had gone through the rest of his life repeating the prayer over and over again while making some money, but still end up in hell?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe a simple prayer can save a man’s soul. On the other hand, just because a man has repeated a prayer doesn’t make him a saved person. To assume that, is to practice Muslim theology and cheapen the Gospel.
In order for one to become a Muslim, all he/she has to do is to repeat the following phrase (Shahada) in Arabic, “I testify that there’s no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.” Although it’s desired that one recites the phrase form the heart, a Muslim will rejoice in hearing you repeat the Shahada and will consider you a Muslim. And, it doesn’t matter if you understood a word you’ve said.