Is a sinner's prayer a good thing or a bad thing? I've pondered this for some time now, and wrote about it a while back. (I think it is both.) My earlier thoughts are here.
I'd like to recommend an article by Dr. Larry Moyers, offered on the Internet by Sermon Central.com It is interesting and thought provoking, as are the comments that follow.
Appeals to make a decision to become a Christian believer are part and parcel of the spiritual tradition and practice of many of us who find ourselves (more or less) in the "evangelical" branch of Christianity. Sometimes these appeals are called an "invitation" and sometimes an "altar call" but every evangelical knows what is meant by a sinner's prayer. That is a prayer for forgivness of sin and asking Jesus to come into your life as Savior.
In my denomination some of us were even taught that we should never have a service that did not conclude with an "altar call."
There is much to think about in Dr. Moyers short article, but I'm specifically thinking about baptism. As one of the commenters noted, have we replaced the symbolism of baptism and "new life" with the sinner's prayer?
I've long been bothered by the fact that so many of "my people" wait so long to be baptized. Whatever your views regarding infant versus believer's baptism, I think we can all agree that baptism was never intended to be some sort of "add on" that occurred months or years after belief in Jesus Christ as Lord.