First of all, I agree with you in saying “the sinner’s prayer is unbiblical,” for there is not one example in Scripture of the so-called “sinner’s prayer” that is used in many evangelical circles today. As we study the book of Acts to see how Peter, Paul, Philip and others led lost sinners to Christ, there is not one instance where they encouraged them to “pray to receive Christ.” Instead, they presented the gospel of Jesus Christ and then simply told them TO BELIEVE. Consider the following examples:

*Acts 10:43: “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM will receive remission of sins” (NKJV).

*Acts 13:38-39: “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the Law of Moses.”

*Acts 16:31: “BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and you will be saved.”

These verses (and many others) show that the sinner is saved BY FAITH and not by anything they can do, including reciting the “sinner’s prayer.” Ephesians 2:8-9 declare, “For by grace you have been saved THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” If one needs to PRAY to be saved, this would constitute a GOOD WORK, but this passage teaches us that salvation is “not of works.” In my experience I have literally met hundreds of souls who have “prayed the sinner’s prayer” and they believe it is the prayer that saved them. They are self-deceived and to make matters worse, they go on to encourage others to “pray to be saved.” So, to answer your second question, I believe “it is wrong to lead lost sinners in any prayer or to have them pray.”

Now let’s take up your first question, “What would you say/do to a person who wants to be saved?” I would do what the apostle Paul did when the Philippian jailor asked him, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)? The apostle Paul replied (as we saw above), “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (verse 31). In other words, I would take the person to scriptures like these to show them that Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners and that you must believe on Him to be saved. This may sound too simple for some, yet this is the only way a sinner will be saved.

The problem that some have regarding this subject is they don’t have confidence in the power of God’s Word to bring a sinner to repentance and faith in Christ. The apostle Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the POWER OF GOD TO SALVATION FOR EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES.” Do you believe that? I do! I believe it is our job to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to sinners and then ALLOW THE WORD TO PRODUCE THE RESULTS! Romans 10:9 states, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” If we try to go beyond presenting the gospel to produce results (by using the sinner’s prayer or some other “method,” such as giving an altar call), we will actually HINDER God’s working in the soul through His Word. Let us be content, as God’s messengers, to simply give out the gospel message and then let God do the rest. The apostle Paul put it this way in 1st Corinthians 3:5-6, “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each? I planted, Apollos watered, but GOD GAVE THE INCREASE.” Paul and Apollos, as God’s messengers, were privileged to “plant the seed of the gospel in men’s hearts,” but they knew that “only God could bring that seed to fruition.” When we do this and the sinner makes a profession of faith in Christ, we can rest assured that it was God Himself who worked in their hearts to give them the assurance of salvation and the desire then to confess Christ as their Savior before others.

In closing, I would encourage you (when witnessing to a lost sinner) to open your Bible and either read to them or have them read the scriptures. If they are haven’t been convicted of sin, I would show them passages which bring out their lost condition before God (such as John 3:1-6 and Romans 3:9-19). Then I would show them how God sent His Son to die on the cross for their sins so they can be saved (John 3:14-16; 1st Corinthians 15:1-4; et al.). And finally I would show them verses like the ones quoted above to show them they need to BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST as their Savior to be saved.  (345.3)  (DO)