Why Romans 10:9 is not a Basis for the “Sinner’s Prayer”

beach prayerMany in the denominational world like to “hang their hats”, so to speak, on Romans 10:9 as the formula for gaining eternal security with God.  However, we explore some of the challenges of this assertion.

Romans 10:9-10 states:

that 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. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

If we examine chapter 10 of Romans and put the scripture into its proper context we can see that Paul the Apostle expressed his desire for Israel to be saved.  Now, many were saved at that time.  However, the nation of Israel as a whole rejected the gospel of salvation through Christ.

In verse 5, Paul explains that Moses’ teaching was that all a person needed to do was follow the law to be saved:

For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”

In subsequent verses Paul explains that the mindset of following the law to be righteous has been replaced with faith in Christ:

But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’”[d] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”[e] (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that 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.

The passage referenced above is focused on a change in mindset or dispensation and was not designed to be a step-by-step process for salvation.

In fact, in Mark 16:16, which I might note comes before Romans 10:9, we see that Christ told Nicodemus the pharisee the following:

16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

We also see the requirements in the book of Matthew and in Acts; both of which occur before Romans 10:9:

Matthew 28:18-20:

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[a] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[b]

Acts 2:37-38 :

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

One would have to skip over several commandments to conclude that simply confessing one’s sins and believing would make one compliant with Christ’s commands for salvation.

Should I Recite “The Lord’s Prayer” When I pray?

praying-hands“The Lord’s Prayer”, which is referenced in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke is, often recited by many people who consider themselves to be spiritually minded.  Let’s reference Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB) for this discussion:

9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.

10  Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

11  Give us this day our daily bread.

12  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13  And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]”

Once again, as we’ve attempted to do in other blogs, we will use the very passage of scripture being referenced for proper context.  Verse 9 offers direction here.  The statement: “Pray, then, in this way” is another way of saying “here is an example”, or “here are things to consider when you pray.”  If we use Christ as an example throughout the gospels we realize that he only referenced what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer” on one occasion which was a teaching moment.

Just examining the structure of Christ’s example we see that we should always acknowledge and praise God first and foremost, who is the provider of our sustenance (verses 9 & 10); make our petition or request known (11-13) and ask for forgiveness (verse 12) not expecting it if we aren’t willing to extend forgiveness to others.