The sinner’s prayer usually goes something like this:
“Heavenly Father: I come to you in prayer asking for the forgiveness of my Sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is your Son, And that he died on the Cross at Calvary that I might be forgiven and have Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come in to my life and be my personal Lord and Savior. I repent of my Sins and will Worship you all the day’s of my Life!. Because your word is truth, I confess with my mouth that I am Born Again and Cleansed by the Blood of Jesus! In Jesus Name, Amen.”
Let me be crystal clear here: You cannot obtain salvation through an incantation.
It isn’t the saying of a prescribed set of words which saves, no matter how pious or correct those words may be. We are saved for works, not by works (Eph 2:8-10). The sinners prayer is high piety. It is a works-based salvation at its most insidious. A great many souls read or repeat these or similar words and come away with a false assurance in the power of the words they spoke rather than submitting in faith to the one addressed, repenting and being made into a new creation by the life giving breath of the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that those who believe with their heart and are regenerated by the blood of Christ cannot say this prayer. In fact, there’s really nothing at all wrong with the prayer per se. I’m saying it isn’t the speaking of the words which saves. It is the blood of Jesus that saves.
To the one saved, does it matter if the evangelist is a holy person right with God? No. Can the one who is being saved become good enough to be right with God in order to get saved, even by speaking pious words? No. So who is sovereign in salvation? God alone. Must we confess to be saved? Jesus declared that if we deny him he will deny us. This is the bases of Paul’s statement that we must confess with our mouths – not to become saved, but as the fruit of salvation. A good tree can only bear good fruit and a bad tree only bad. God is Creator and is sovereign even in the bearing of Kingdom fruit. As Jesus explained so eloquently to Nicodemus, you must believe. Life and all else comes after.