Quick Prayerism Summarized
June 13, 2024
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
We must continue to warn about the unscriptural method of evangelism that has permeated Baptist churches since the 1970s. A pastor recently told me (April 2024) that he thinks Jack Hyles’ influence is largely gone. I am convinced that he is naive. Quick Prayerism is taught in most soul winning training programs. The Sword of the Lord has taught Quick Prayerism since the 1960s and they still publish books by Hyles and others that promote that mythology. (As of May 2024, Hyles’ Let’s Go Soulwinning is still available at the Sword online bookstore.) I regularly hear from people who are in churches that promote Quick Prayerism. Even pastors who don’t think they practice Quick Prayerism, unknowingly practice some form of it because of their training.

Everyone should be aware of this so they can guard against it.

What Is Quick Prayerism?

Quick Prayerism is an evangelistic methodology that is quick to get people to pray a sinner’s prayer after a shallow gospel presentation and usually without any hint of repentance. It is quick to pronounce those people saved and to give them “assurance” and to try to baptize them even if they barely show any interest in the presentation and even if they give no biblical evidence of the new birth. Frequently, Quick Prayerism incorporates psychological salesmanship manipulation. In Quick Prayerism, an empty “sinner’s prayer” has too often replaced Holy Spirit conviction and miraculous regeneration. Quick Prayerism is characterized by soul winning reports that are grossly exaggerated, since the number of real conversions are minute compared to the overall statistics.

Quick Prayerism is quick.

An example of this was communicated to me some time back by a pastor friend who had the following experience at a prominent independent Baptist church that operates a large Bible college. The soul winner in question is a veteran independent Baptist missionary to Japan, a man with significant influence in the independent Baptist movement.

“We went out with their staff on Saturday morning for soul winning. We were immediately partnered up with some of the veterans. The first door we went to, we spoke to a friendly Catholic guy and to my surprise, the guy got ‘saved’ before my very eyes as ------- took him from a few scripture passages to the sinner’s prayer so smoothly that I was caught off guard. ... A lady answered the bell at one house and stood impatiently behind the screen door while the soul winner went quickly through the plan of salvation. She wanted to attend to her child, who was fussing in the background, but he begged her to listen to the presentation. During the entire time, she was looking back into the house, severely distracted. At the end of his presentation, he boldly demanded that she open the door partially and take his hand. She seemed shocked by his request, but she cautiously did as he said. He then asked her if she wanted to go to Heaven when she died. When she answered in the affirmative, he asked her to pray after him the sinner’s prayer, which she did. He announced her gloriously saved, and she immediately closed the door and went about her business.”

Quick Prayerism is a set plan.

It is a plan that is used with every individual.

We don’t see anything like this in Scripture.

Quick Prayerism focuses on a ticket to heaven.

“Are you 100% sure that you will go to heaven when you die? If I can tell you how to be 100% sure that you will go heaven when you die, you would be interested in doing that, right?”

The saved person does go to heaven when he dies, but this approach is never seen in Scripture. Jesus did not use this with the Samaritan woman. Peter did not use this on Pentecost. Paul did not use this in Athens.

The emphasis in Scripture is on a new relationship with God today and forever. It is on new life that starts now. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (Joh. 17:3). “Therefore if any man
be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Co. 5:17).

- In the case of the woman at the well, the emphasis is on drinking living water (Jo. 4:10).

- In Matthew 11, the emphasis is on finding rest for one’s soul (Mt. 11:28-30).

- In John 3:16, the emphasis is on not perishing but having everlasting life (Joh. 3:16).

- In the case of Zacchaeus, the emphasis is on salvation from one’s lost condition (Lu. 19:9-10).

- In the case of the Jews at Pentecost, the emphasis is on saving yourself from this untoward generation (Ac.2:40).

- In the case of Cornelius, the emphasis is on receiving remission of sins (Ac. 10:43).

- In the case of the Philippian jailer, the emphasis is on being saved (Ac. 16:30-31).

- In the case of the Athenians, the emphasis is on salvation from the coming judgment (Ac. 17:30-31).

- In Romans 1, the emphasis is on obtaining the righteousness of God (Ro. 1:16-17).

Quick Prayerism uses a salesmanship program.

Jack Hyles taught dozens of psychological tricks. Consider how he used prayer to manipulate individuals:

“There are several ways to do this, but you must try to get them to pray. If he is really ready, say, ‘Could I pray for you, and while I pray, would you pray and ask God to save you today?’ Maybe he is not quite that ready. Maybe you don't know. You could say, ‘Could I pray that you will get saved?’ Maybe you don’t think he will let you pray for him to get saved. Then you say, Could I have a word of prayer with you before I go?’

“Anyway, to get your head bowed is good. If you are talking to him, he might interrupt, but if you are talking to the Lord, he won’t. You can preach him a little sermon in the prayer. If you can’t win a fellow to Christ, and if he won’t let you present the plan to him, the best way to tell him how to be saved is to tell the Lord and let the sinner hear you.

“I go into a home and say, ‘Sir, would you like to know how to be saved?’

“‘No, don’t have time for it. The wife’s sick and I'm busy.’

“Could I have a prayer for your wife before we go, that she will get well?”

“With his wife lying there sick, a man would be a fool not to let the preacher pray for her. He says, ‘Well, O.K.”

“I pray, ‘Dear Lord, bless this wife and make her well, and help this man to know that Romans 3:10 says, ‘As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.’ And if people die in their sins, according to Romans 6:23 ‘the wages of sin is death.’ O dear Lord, show him that Romans 5:8 is true when it says that ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners...’

“Pray him the plan. He won’t interrupt you. You can get by with a lot of things talking to the Lord that you wouldn’t talking to him. ...

“I always stop in the middle of my prayer. I say, ‘Dear Lord, lead this man to be saved. You led me here and I pray that he will be saved today. May his wife have a Christian husband and the little children a Christian daddy. May this be the day of his salvation.’ Now while our heads are bowed in prayer, ‘Mr. Doe, would you be willing today to ask God to forgive you and tell Him you want to get saved?’

“See, you stop in the middle of your prayer and lead him to pray. Let me say this: Fifty per cent of the time when you get this far the lost person is going to pray” (Hyles,
Let’s Go Soul Winning).

That is cheap psychological manipulation. It is tricky. It is dishonest. If you tell a man that you want to pray for him, but your goal actually is to preach to him and get him to pray a sinner’s prayer, that is deception. We see no hint of this in the Gospels or Acts.

Quick Prayerism focuses on a sinner’s prayer

An example of a sinner’s prayer is the following from the gospel tract God’s Simple Plan of Salvation:

“Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner; I know I deserve hell for my sins. I believe You died for me, and I am trusting You to save me from hell and give me the gift of eternal life. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. Amen.”

As far as I can tell, the sinner’s prayer can be traced to about the middle of the 20th century. The American Tract Society was founded in 1825 during the Second Great Awakening, but it was not until 1955 that the society published its first tract containing a sinner’s prayer.

Billy Graham popularized the sinner’s prayer in his gospel tracts, beginning in the 1950s with
Steps to Peace with God.

It was Jack Hyles who popularized the sinner’s prayer soul winning among independent Baptists. This was the emphasis of his soul winning books and annual Pastor’s Schools. He said, “You must try to get them to pray.”

Quick Prayerism ignores repentance.

We deal with this in the chapter on “Evangelism and Repentance."

Quick Prayerism promises eternal security to those who pray a sinner’s prayer.

The Quick Prayerism program gives security to those who pray the sinner’s prayer. Some churches give them a Spiritual Birth Certificate.

After Hyles led someone in a sinner’s prayer he would say, “Let me ask you this question now: ‘According to this Book, where would you go if you died right now?’ ‘To Heaven.’ ... ‘That means you are God’s child. Now suppose somebody asks you tomorrow, Mr. Doe, Are you a Christian? When did you become a Christian? What are you going to tell them?’ ‘Yesterday.’”

The Bible teaches that the born again child of God has eternal life, but it is the Spirit of God who must give assurance. You can’t give assurance to someone for certain, since you don’t know his heart. You can show that individual that he
can know for sure that he is saved. You can show him verses such as 1 John 5:10-12, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

But only the Spirit of God can confirm to me that I am a child of God for sure. “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Ro. 8:15-16).

Quick Prayerism produces large numbers of empty professions.

The churches that have adopted this unscriptural method of evangelism have produced millions of false professions and have given a false hope to the same multitude. There are many churches that can show only a handful of new creatures in Christ for every hundred or even thousand converts they claim.

Jack Hyles, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana, was the king of Quick Prayerism. He claimed that three-quarters of a million people were saved at Hammond under his ministry. But these numbers did not reflect any level of reality in the active church family. If hundreds of thousands of people had actually been saved at First Baptist over the years that Hyles was pastor there, that region would have been dramatically affected. The reality is that most of the numbers were empty professions.

In 1969, Jack’s son, Dave Hyles, a 16-year-old high school sophomore at the time, organized the Teenage Soul Winning program at First Baptist. Dave’s sister, Cindy, who participated in that, said, “I won thousands of souls before I finished my teen years” (
The Fundamental Man, p. 271). In 1972, at age 19, Dave Hyles became the youth pastor. In six years, the teens reported 100,000 salvation decisions.

Elmer Towns described an experience on a Saturday in 1974 with First Baptist’s youth soul winning program led by Dave Hyles. More than 200 teens showed up, and Dave told them, “Last week we won over 1,000 souls to Jesus Christ; let’s do it again tonight.” Towns accompanied 31 young men on a bus to an inner city area of Chicago. The young men told him that they had 21 out the week before and had “won over 200 to the Lord.” That week they aimed for more than 300.

“Joe stopped at the first home; nine played on the porch. ‘Hey, would you like to ride a bus to church tomorrow morning?’ He began talking about God. The kids didn’t know much about Him. Within minutes the group swelled to 15 curious Spanish kids. He talked about creation and the message of Calvary. ‘If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?’ Joe asked and pointed his finger at each one of the kids. All shook their heads negatively. ‘I want you to bow your heads right here and pray to receive Jesus Christ.’ He did not ask if they wanted to be saved, or if they were ready; he just told them to pray so they would go to heaven. ... Most of them repeated the simple prayer after him. ... As each boy jumps on the bus, he reports how many had been won to the Lord. Twenty-six is the highest number; one is the smallest--total of 261 for the evening. All the guys cheer” (Towns,
World’s Largest Sunday School, pp. 177, 179)

A friend pastored a fundamental Baptist church in northern Indiana near First Baptist of Hammond. In 1980, a Hyles-Anderson student in his church obtained roughly 1,000 decision cards from First Baptist Church’s visitation ministry. They diligently followed up on these individuals but were extremely disappointed to find that not even one was interested in the things of Christ. The batch of professions was entirely void of spiritual reality. He testified to me that this opened his eyes to the danger of the Hyles approach to evangelism and underscored the duplicity of the reports that are published by First Baptist.

Longview Baptist Temple in Longview, Texas, claimed that more than one million people were won to Christ in 25 years (http://www.lbtministries.com/Pastor/Meet_Our_Pastor.htm). Yet on an average Wednesday evening service, which is the truest reflection of an American church’s active membership, you will find only a few hundred people in attendance. Literally hundreds of thousands of these souls that have been “won” are nowhere to be found.

For several weeks in 1977, my wife and I followed up on a Phoster Club soul-winning program in a fundamental Baptist church in Florida. The Phoster Club ladies reported a great many salvations, but we did not find even one person who demonstrated biblical salvation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17. (I don’t doubt that some people are saved through these programs, but the large statistics do not reflect reality.)

In the late 1990s, we were given the “decision” cards to follow-up a county fair ministry in Oklahoma. Of the hundreds of professions that were recorded we could not find
even one person who gave any evidence of salvation or was even interested in attending church.

A pastor friend followed up on the more than 100 “salvation decisions” that were made at a county fair ministry in Kentucky in 2011, and he
did not find one soul who was even interested enough in Christ to attend church.

In 2024, a pastor friend in Florida told me that he had the same experience with the “decisions” made through Amazing Grace Ministries.

The Fruit of Quick Prayerism

Many argue that “people have been saved” by this methodology, so we should leave it alone. There are five reasons why we do not accept this argument:

First, it is not Scriptural. God’s people are to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Th. 5:21). We are not to ignore things that are contrary to Scripture.

Second, the vast majority of people who have been dealt with by this methodology have
not gotten saved.

Third, it gives people false security.

Fourth, it inoculates people to biblical salvation.

Fifth, it has sown confusion about true salvation.

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