What is the Sinner’s Prayer? By Greg Laurie

When we talk about “The Sinner’s Prayer,” we’re referring to a heartfelt plea to God in which a person expresses belief in God’s salvation through Jesus, repents for their sins, and asks Him to forgive them and be the Lord of their life. This prayer is a pivotal moment, marking the beginning of a changed life. It’s often the first words spoken in a person’s lifelong communication with God.

Sinner’s Prayer Explained

This prayer is a way to communicate with God, expressing your belief in Jesus Christ and your desire for forgiveness and salvation. It’s a personal acknowledgment of your sins, a commitment to turn away from them, and an invitation for Jesus to enter your heart and life as your Savior and Lord.

It’s important to understand that this prayer is not about the specific words we say but about the sincerity and the faith behind those words.

Where Is the Sinner’s Prayer in the Bible?

You won’t find a specific chapter and verse in the Bible that outlines “The Sinner’s Prayer” verbatim. The concept of “The” Sinner’s Prayer might suggest there is only one way to pray, but it’s more accurate to call it “A” Sinner’s Prayer. The Bible emphasizes the importance of a heartfelt confession and repentance, rather than a rote, formulaic recitation.

In Romans 10:9, we read, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (NKJV). This verse highlights the core elements of what the Sinner’s Prayer embodies: confession, belief, and salvation.

Is the Sinner’s Prayer Important for Salvation?

People often ask if saying this prayer is necessary to be saved. They might wonder, “My uncle was unable to speak on his deathbed, but his eyes indicated he was listening and receptive when I told him the gospel. I think he believed in the end, but he didn’t say the Sinner’s Prayer. Is he in Heaven?”

That’s a question only God knows the answer to because the answer lies in the heart. As I have often quoted, “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” Is saying the sinner’s prayer necessary to be saved? No. But the position of the heart that the Sinner’s Prayer attempts to convey is. The key lies in the heart’s intent behind the prayer. The Sinner’s Prayer is a vehicle to help express the inward change of heart that comes with believing in Jesus for salvation. It’s not the specific words that save, but the genuine faith and repentance they represent.

Consider the thief on the cross next to Jesus. Initially, both thieves mocked Jesus, but one of them had a change of heart. In a simple, sincere plea, he said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42 NKJV). His “Sinner’s Prayer” was short and clumsy. But it was an honest request for salvation and came from a heart of submission and sincerity. Jesus replied, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43 NLT). This interaction shows that a no-nonsense request for salvation, even in one’s final moments, is enough when it comes from a place of true belief and repentance.

Example of a Sinner’s Prayer

When leading someone in this prayer, simplicity and sincerity are key. The prayer should express belief in Jesus’ sacrifice, a commitment to turn from sin (repent), and a desire to follow God. Many years ago, a gospel tract reduced the experience of coming to Jesus Christ to four R-words:

1. Realize you are a sinner.
2. Recognize that Jesus died on the cross for you.
3. Repent of your sin.
4. Receive Jesus Christ into your life.

That makes a great outline for a sinner’s prayer, no matter what words you use. It might sound something like this:

Lord Jesus, I want to have a personal relationship with You. I know I am a sinner and I believe You died on the cross for my sins. I turn from those sins and put my faith in You right now to be my Lord and Savior, my God and Friend. Thank You for hearing this prayer. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


The Sinner’s Prayer is nothing more than a genuine expression of faith, repentance, and commitment to Jesus Christ. While the specific words may vary, the essence remains the same: a heartfelt plea for God’s forgiveness and a desire to follow Him. Whether you’re praying this prayer for the first time or leading someone else in it, remember that it’s the sincerity of the heart that matters most to God.

So, if you’ve been wondering, “What is the Sinner’s Prayer?” or “Is the Sinner’s Prayer in the Bible?” know that it’s a biblical concept rooted in the principles of confession, belief, and salvation. And if you’re ready to pray the Sinner’s Prayer, know that God is ready to listen and respond to your sincere cry for salvation. Learn more about how to know God.

Did you pray with Pastor Greg?

To help you get started, we would love to send you a free Bible and other resources to help you grow in your faith.

Get Resources
Ben Born Again’s New Believer’s Growth Book

Ben Born Again’s New Believer’s Growth Book

Ben Born Again’s New Believer’s Growth Book is a time-proven resource that helps kids learn how to mature in Christ! A copy will be sent to you for a gift of any amount to Harvest Ministries this month.

Make Your Gift