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Prayer For Salvation? – A Look At The ESV Outreach New Testament

It used to be that the denominations would teach that while baptism does not save, it is necessary and/or important. But this does not seem to be the case any longer.

I purchased some ESV Outreach New Testaments for our church as we are going to promote reading through the New Testament in one year. We will had out these along with other New Testament translations at the beginning of year. As I went through the ESV Outreach New Testament, I noticed it had a section called “God’s Plan To Save You.” This is pretty typical for outreach Bibles. However, this one was really well done. It was not a mere page describing salvation, as most outreach Bibles have. “God’s Plan To Save You” is four pages going through the story of redemption, the problem of sin, the love of God, and the need for Jesus.

Then the article comes to telling the reader what to do. After asking if the reader believes, the article states:

“If so, you may express your faith in Him by praying this prayer: Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son, and that He died on the cross to save me from my sin. I believe that He rose again to life, and that He invites me to live forever with Him in heaven as part of Your family. Because of what Jesus has done, I ask You to forgive me of my sin and give me eternal life. I invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord. Help me to live in an way that pleases and honors You. Amen.

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While I see no problem praying these words to God, I would like to know where the scriptures teach to pray for salvation. Show me some place in the New Testament where an unbeliever is commanded to pray to receive salvation and become a Christian disciple (Simon in Acts 8:13 had already become a believer when Peter told him to pray for forgiveness from his sin of wanting to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit). Show me an example of unbelievers praying for salvation in the New Testament and becoming saved on the basis of the prayer alone. It is fascinating to me that we are teaching people to pray for salvation when the New Testament does not teach such.

The next post will be a continuation of this topic.