This is partially (or totally) in response to "The Evangelical Jesus Prayer" found here. The author of this article assures us that the so-called "sinner's prayer" employed by so many churches in our day and age is biblical, and therefore good and useful. It is seen as biblical, not because it is drawn from the Scriptures verbatim (like the Lord's Prayer), nor because it is drawn from Christian antiquity (like the Apostles' Creed), but because it is a summary of the Gospel.
A typical prayer is quoted as: "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I
open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank
You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of
the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be."
We are also warned against "theological snobbery and spiritual self-righteousness". (In other words, don't get too picky about the words of the prayer.) But I fail to see how this prayer is a summary of the Gospel, unless you are confused about what the Gospel is.
"I open the door of my life..." is about what I have done. Sure the prayer thanks Jesus for stuff, but smack dab at the heart of the prayer is a confession that I have done the right thing, asked Jesus into my heart, and really, let's be honest, saved myself.
This is not theological snobbery, just accuracy. And lest we think that accuracy is not important, let us remember that it is called "God's Word" for a reason. Words are the means that God uses to create and sustain faith. Obviously words matter. Theological words matter more than any other.
So rather than asking people to pray an non-biblical prayer once they have heard the gospel, why not follow the example of the New Testament and baptized them for the forgiveness of their sins? (Acts 2:38, 8:13, 8:37, 9:18, etc) It strikes me that the Apostles never preach the Gospel and then ask people to "receive Jesus into their hearts". Rather, they preach the Good News and proclaim baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
The Church would be much better off today if it followed the biblical instructions of our Lord to baptize and teach (Matthew 28:19-20) rather than inventing it's own methods and prayers to make up for a lost respect for the Lord's work in baptism.