Salvation isn’t about a series of hoops you have to jump through, like getting a home loan or a driver’s license. But too often it’s treated that way, because we’re so conditioned to have an “if-you-do-this-then-you-get-that” mindset, it’s hard to wrap our heads around the complete gift that is God’s grace.
The use of a “sinner’s prayer” can potentially come across as unhealthily formulaic. I talk with people all the time who are looking for a “box to check off” in order to be right with God and safe for eternity. But there is no box. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Such saving faith is the anti-work (i.e., “not by works, so that no one can boast” in Ephesians 2:8-9), and I want to be careful never to communicate that someone’s work (or words) can merit salvation before God.