Is baptism required to become a Christian or can I just pray Jesus into my heart?


I am assuming you are aware that there are many ideas about the role of baptism in Christian salvation.  Let me consider two avenues we can use to answer your question, which is the testimony of NT scriptures and the testimony of church history.

With regard to "praying Jesus into your heart," there is no scriptural evidence for this practice.  There is not a single example anywhere in the New Testament, and most significantly, in the book of Acts of anyone saying a prayer in order to be saved.  The practice of saying a prayer in order to be saved is not found in church history until some time in the nineteenth century evangelicalism.  There is no precedent for this practice before this time.  Such a recent invention ought to make one very skeptical of this practice.  I will say categorically that it is not true that we can pray Jesus into our heart.

About baptism, the scriptures strongly support the idea that one is saved from sin at the time of baptism.  This is supported by Acts 2:36-38 in which believers are told to be baptized into Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and to receive the Holy Spirit.  If this does not connect baptism with salvation, I do not know what else it can be teaching.  Another passage is Romans 6:3-7.  Here we find that when we are baptized into Christ we come into contact with the blood of Jesus.  This, of course, is a mystery, but it is what the Bible teaches.  We are buried with him and raised with him in baptism.  Of course, one can never find an equivalent statement with regard to "praying Jesus into our heart."  Many other passages can be mentioned, but let me just use one more.  It is Galatians 3:26-27 where we learn that be are baptized into Christ.  As far as I know, there is no other way described in the Bible to get "into" Christ than in biblical baptism. 

As for the evidence of church history, I will not quote the hundreds of references, but let it suffice to say that the unanimous testimony of the church fathers is that baptism is the point in time when one is cleaned, washed, forgiven of sins.  I can suggest some references on early church teachings on baptism, include "Born of Water" by Rex Geissler ( and Early Christians Speak by Everett Ferguson.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.