Is praying the "Sinner's Prayer" a sin?


Last week, I was waiting at the bus stop when an old woman approached me. She gave me a pamphlet and proceeded to talk to me about Jesus. I didn’t want to start a theological quarrel with an old woman, so I listened quietly and nodded. She asked me if I wanted to recieve Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I said yes.

She took my hand, and together we prayed the classic “Sinner’s Prayer”. To me, it was just a reaffirmation of my baptismal vows, but to her it was undoubtedly a sign of a new convert to her particular sort of Christianity. Just afterwards the bus came, and I left. She asked me her name, and said that she would pray for me.

Was this a sin? I felt that it was the most prudential thing to do, considering my past attempts to evangelize to people have not be very effective and even counterproductive. However, I could’ve just refused her and say something else. What would you do?


To clarify, there was nothing heretical in the prayer itself, which is merely a basic affirmation of Jesus as Lord and Savior and request for forgiveness of sins, which is basically the same as the Confiteor. On the other hand, the two prayers have different purposes.


Well, I am a Methodist, so maybe my idea does not count, but I think what you did was very sweet. This lady would probably not have understood if you refused her, & since the prayer was not anything that you could not pray honestly, I think this was a very good way to handle it.
If someone had asked you to pray something that was against your faith, that would be the time to refuse, for example, when I have Mormons come to my house, I never let them pray, I say a simple prayer that does not go against my faith…
I have family who are fundamentalists, they are some of the sweetest people, but I don’t get into theology with them, I just let them be…If I were to argue, I would make them feel bad, & after all, I do have the same Lord as they do!
God bless.


I’ve seen so many different versions of the ‘sinner’s prayer’ printed on the backs of tracks: everything from one sentence - “Lord Jesus, I confess to you that I am a sinner and I ask you to come into my life and save me,” to long-winded multi-paragraph prayers which do contain, in fact, various degrees and numbers of heresy.

The one sentence prayer, as I’ve ‘quoted’ from memory is perfectly fine and a great little prayer for any occasion, I would think - particularly nice when prayed with another such as your elderly friend at the bus stop.

The others, though, in which you may declare that you are free now from sin forever because you have, at 7:44 a.m. on October 12, 2004, accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Saviour, etc., are to be avoided, I think - they would not be prayers that you would, if not for the ‘pressure’ of the moment, be comfortable in honestly praying alone. That type of prayer should be avoided.

My usual way of avoiding that latter type of prayer - and disarming the need for it altogether, is to simply answer that yes, I have accepted Christ as my Savior and, as the Scriptures tell us to do, I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling and then asking the inquisitor if I might offer a prayer for us both. Something short and ecumenical so that both will be comfortable with the prayer and everyone leaves with the satisfaction of not having missed an opportunity to offer prayer and thanks to God.


The sinner’s prayer (in it’s simplest form) is in no contradiction to the Catholic faith. I say you made the right decision. And you probably made her day. :thumbsup:


I absolutely agree.

Here is a great article by Gary Michuta which touches on this subject:
How Do Catholics Hear The Gospel?

It may even give you some ideas on how to respond when next you’re asked these kinds of questions!

closed #7

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit