Posted by: celticanglican | February 21, 2010

“Prayer of salvation” concern

Originally posted on February 21, 2010

Q. I have a loved one who attends church regularly, but has never prayed a prayer of salvation. She says that such a concept is completely non-Scriptural and took offense when I told her I was praying for her salvation. What do you think?

A. Good question, and I hope my answer helps you. Have people in the Bible prayed, and subsequently become Christians? Certainly! Is there evidence supporting a formulated sinners’ prayer that one must pray to obtain salvation? No. While this is a foundational belief for many evangelical Protestant groups, there is more evidence in support of this being a tradition, rather than a Scriptural teaching. Where it’s not sufficiently supported by Scripture, it shouldn’t, IMO, be upheld as a doctrine for all Christians to believe in.

No believer in the Bible is cited as having instantly received eternal salvation by reciting a prayer, nor is there any record of an altar call being done during a New Testament-era church service. Such practices were popularized during the revival period of the late 19th and early 20th century.

Salvation is by the grace of God, not by outward works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Obedience to God (John 14:12-17, Matthew 7:21-23) and bearing fruits consistent with salvation (Matthew 7:21-23) are evidence that a person is responsive to God’s grace. The Book of Common Prayer 1979, in its catechism section, sums up why the sacraments of baptism (John 3:3-5, Titus 3:5-6, Ezek. 36:25-27) and communion (John 6:51-58, 1 Corinthians 11:23-30) are so important: “The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain
means by which we receive that grace.” (p. 857) The BCP also effectively defines grace: “Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and
undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens
our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.” (p. 858)

So, that being said, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about such a teaching. There simply isn’t evidence in Scripture to support God’s act of salvation taking place through means of a formulated prayer.

Thanks to Scripture Catholic for baptismal and Eucharistic references

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