It’s important as Evangelists to understand basic principles for leading unbelievers to Christ. One of the principles that is important for leading souls effectively to Christ is the prayer of salvation. The Bible teaches us that God commands men everywhere to repent.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
God will not overlook the sins of mankind. God loves us but He hates sin! Therefore the Bible teaches us that God will not allow the innocent to go unpunished.
‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Here it shows that it’s not just repentance of sin, we must first confess our sins before God. We must lead people to confess they are sinners and turn from their sin (repentance). Without true repentance we are just having people make a nice prayer, however, Biblically forgiveness of sins begins with confession and repentance. The next thing that is important about the prayer of salvation is leading the person to confess Jesus as Lord, and believe in their hearts that God the Father raised Him from the dead.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
God is the only one who can judge the hearts of men. He knows when someone truly repents of their sins and turns their heart to God. I do believe there are people who receive the Lord on their death bed or in the last moment without praying this prayer of salvation but I believe God in His Sovereignty sees the heart of the person to place their trust in Him wholeheartedly. For example, the Bible shows us that the robber on the cross next to Christ was told by our Lord that because of he placed his faith in Him before his death, he would be with the Lord in Paradise. That goes to show that in certain cases God will save lives out of His Sovereignty because He alone knows the hearts of men. The Bible teaches us that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[a]
However, as a general rule of thumb, one should lead people to confess and repent of sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and believe that God the Father raised Him from the dead. Every other prayer you do within the prayer of salvation is fine as long as the core of salvation is made within the prayer. I have heard people lead an unbeliever to Christ without any confession of sins, or confession Jesus as Lord of their lives. We must lead people to understand that God loves and wants to save their souls from an eternity in hell without Him. God is a Father and He longs to see His creation be restored as His adopted sons and daughters through Christ Jesus. Therefore, a prayer of salvation for an unbeliever could look something like this:
Father I come before your presence today to confess to you that I am a sinner and I need forgiveness for my sins. I choose to repent (turn away) of all my sins and ask you to forgive me today. I confess with my mouth that Jesus Christ is my Lord, and I believe that God the Father raised you from the dead. Please cleanse me with your blood, come into my heart and write my name in the Book of Life. I renounce every pact with the devil, sin, my flesh, and my past. I make a pact with Jesus Christ to serve you and live for you all the days of my life. I declare the day I die when I open my eyes I will be in your presence. In Jesus name. Amen!