the more I get into it, the less I'm sure it matters how we say it.
Gospel: Good News. The power of salvation for those who believe.
I found this: “Ten reasons NOT to ask Jesus into your heart”.
I would submit that it's not the "asking Jesus into your heart" that's the problem. It's the leading an unbelieving person in "the formula" for the sake of following the formula.
The writer says that people who pray this prayer backslide.
I would reply...people who don't pray that prayer may backslide also. You would have a hard time convincing me that it was the prayer that did it, not the idea that perhaps (whatever they said at the time of their "conversion") it was the person that was at fault.
The formula, "I'm sorry for my sins, please forgive me and be my Savior" is just as much a "formula". And it can fail just as badly.
Reason number 10: People who ask Jesus into their hearts are not saved and they will perish on the Day of Judgment.
The writer says that is "scary" to him. To me, scary is judging the salvation of another person based on the specific words they used on the day they turned to Jesus and not what is in their hearts.
There are a few things that I remember from my childhood...one of them is telling my mom that I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. She asked, "Why?". I was able to articulate that I was sorry for my sins and I wanted Jesus to save me.
And she led me in that "sinner's prayer".
Does that mean that I am not saved and I will perish on the Day of Judgment? Of course not and that's why I think it's important to look at the behavior, beliefs and reasoning of the person...not the formula that they're using.
Is it important to teach belief and repentance? YES! it is vital.
But to bluntly state that those who pray the sinner's prayer are lost...that smacks so much of 'everybody who doesn't do it just like I do are heathens' that it makes me very uncomfortable.