"God be merciful to me a Sinner, and make me to know and believe in Jesus Christ; for I see, that if his Righteousness had not been, or I have not Faith in that Righteousness, I am utterly cast away. Lord, I have heard that thou art a merciful God, and hast ordained that thy Son Jesus Christ should be the Saviour of the World; and moreover, that thou are willing to bestow upon such a poor sinner as I am, (and I am a sinner indeed) Lord, take therefore this opportunity, and magnify thy Grace in the Salvation of my soul, through thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen."
Now, compare the previous prayer with today's Sinner's Prayer:
"Heavenly Father, have mercy on me, a sinner. I believe in you and that your word is true. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and that he died on the cross so that I may now have forgiveness for my sins and eternal life. I know that without you in my heart my life is meaningless. I believe in my heart that you, Lord God, raised Him from the dead. Please Jesus forgive me, for every sin I have ever committed or done in my heart, please Lord Jesus forgive me and come into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior today. I need you to be my Father and my friend. I give you my life and ask you to take full control from this moment on; I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ."
Do you see a difference??? I think it sticks out big time! Today's prayer seems to be "all about me": "I" believe, "I" believe, "I" know, "I" believe...on and on and on about what "I've" done. It feels kinda self-centered, don't you think? I think so.
But in Hopeful's prayer, he says, "...make me to know and believe...", as though it's something he can't do himself. And it isn't. We can not in and of ourselves believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It's something He must do Himself to draw us to Him. But once He draws us, His irresistible grace is irresistible, isn't it? It's an amazing thing.
I don't know, maybe I'm way off here, but I think that if a person is truly convicted of his sin, he will know in his heart what to say and ask for in his own prayer to Christ. It seems to me that these modern day tracts with the Sinner's Prayer on the back of them lead to, well, misleading. A certain person tries to lead someone to Christ and the other person feels something and before he can do anything else the certain person says, "Ok, all you have to do is pray this prayer and you'll be right with God." So the other person repeats the prayer and thinks that he's taken care of and has nothing to worry about anymore.
It seems kinda like canned food to me. You take out a can of food, put it in a bowl, pop it in the microwave, and when it's done, you eat it. But once you're all through with that canned food, you kind of feel like you've missed out on a real good home made dinner.
Salvation isn't something that we can obtain by ourselves. It's not something someone can lead us to. It's not something that comes out of a can or on the back of a tract. Jesus Christ alone will call His chosen ones, and when they hear the call they will be convicted of their sin and they will cry out for mercy in a way that the world can not put down on a piece of paper.