The Sinner’s Prayer
Sinners coming to the altar often feel the turmoil of conflicting emotions and thoughts swirling through their minds.
“Should I turn around and leave?”
“Should I go forward?”
“I need to pray.”
“I don’t know how to pray.”
“Will God answer my prayer?”
“What do these people around me think of me?”
At the same time, they feel God’s Spirit drawing them. Suddenly their world begins to change. They sense, even though they may not understand, that major forces are working on them. As a result, they may find themselves torn between fear of the unknown and the desire for something real.
The sinner’s prayer directly influences the rest of his or her walk with God. Without repentance nothing else counts.
Sometimes, in the excitement of seeing people move toward the altar, altar workers hurry them through repentance. We must give people time to repent. For some it may take only a few seconds or minutes; for others it may take longer. Whatever the case, we must encourage them in their repentance.
To help a sinner in the approach to God, we must follow certain general principles. To begin with, approach the seeker discreetly by praying alongside the person in a general way. Next, assure the seeker that he or she is doing the right thing. The seeker needs to know that such prayer is in alignment with the will of God.
Furthermore, encourage the seeker not to worry about people who are nearby. All that matters is touching God. These guidelines can help the seeker focus the mind on God, especially when used in connection with Biblical references.
To further assist a seeker, the altar worker can help in the actual prayer. If the seeker seems to be having little or no difficulty repenting, then the altar worker simply should help create an atmosphere of prayer and worship. This includes thanking God for touching the individual and rejoicing over that which is happening.
In other situations, some seekers simply stall out. They have no idea what to do. In this case the altar worker should encourage them not to be afraid, but to go ahead and talk to God out loud. Remind them it does not take a fancy prayer, but just to pour out their heart to God. Sometimes it helps to pray a repentant prayer with them. Many times reluctant seekers will open up as they hear encouragement being spoken by the altar worker.
Once the seeker begins to open up and respond to God, the altar worker should continue giving words of encouragement. Such support could include expressions such as:
“God hears you.
“Jesus cares about you.”
“God will not turn you away.”
As simple as these may sound, such statements bring positive reinforcement to the seeker. It should assist the seeker to become less self-conscious and focus more on God. Often an altar worker can actually see, in the facial expression, the moment the load of sin begins to lift.
At times during repentance, enormous emotional feelings may sweep over the seekers. This can scare or confuse them. Effective altar workers need to identify the emotion, and help the flow of repentance continue. The following are examples of things that could be said:
“Don’t be afraid of what you are feeling.”
“That’s God you’re feeling. It is okay to yield to it.”
“Don’t be afraid to let the tears flow. God loves a broken and a contrite spirit.”
“There’s nothing wrong with crying. That is God touching your heart.”
“He wants you to respond.”
Basically, the altar worker provides encouragement and reinforcement while the seeker prays.
One thing to remember is the fact that while all people must repent of their sins, not all of them will have the same repentance experience. Each will ask for God’s forgiveness; however, their personal experiences will vary widely. Some may go through deep weeping and remorse. Others, though they shed tears, may not go through extended emotional trauma. This does not indicate their repentance is insincere. Individual personality will affect the seeker’s response during repentance.
With these things in mind, the altar worker must remember the purpose is to help the sinner to repent. On the other hand, he or she does not try to make the sinner have a certain type of repentance experience. As a result, when the seeker has repented, the worker can reinforce that repentance experience regardless of how it came forth.
This article “The Sinner’s Prayer” written by is excerpted from.