Luke 18:13 "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner."
Let me ask you....did this man get saved because of what he said? We know he got saved because in verse 14 it says "...this man went down to his house justified". A person can pray the most eloquent of prayers and say all the "right" things and still be just as lost as they were before they said it.
Many preachers and soul-winners are urging sinners to pray "the sinner's prayer" if a person says they want to be saved. In verse 14 the publican did not say what you would consider the sinner's prayer. He didn't even have someone "leading" him in it or telling him what to say. It doesn't mean because no one leads a person in a prayer or tells them what to say that they aren't saved. Words don't save us...God does. God's mercy is not what is needed to save us because God has shown us mercy from birth to even be born and to live at all.
There must be repentance and faith in Christ and what He did for us on Calvary for a person to be saved. So for a person to believe that it is the words they say to be what saves them is to be deceived. I prayed the "sinner's prayer" when I was 24 years of age and nothing changed in my life. The preacher that talked to me told me what to say...but there was no conviction and no realization and sorrow over my sinful condition. After praying that prayer he (the preacher) pronounced me saved. Only One can pronounce a person saved and that is God Himself. He does this through the peace He gives to the person who truly gets saved and born-again.
A person can pray whatever and with whatever words they choose and still be saved because they repented or made a change in their heart from serving sin and the devil to serving God and living for Him how He wants them to.
In my case...I never asked Jesus to save me or come into my heart. I thought at that time that I had been saved when I was 24 years old. I simply asked Him to forgive me for the things I had done to destroy my marriage and drive my husband away from me. But something was different this time...I had a peace in my heart I could not understand or explain. I knew something was different right away.
There was a time when I doubted I had been saved because I heard so many people's testimonies that they had prayed and asked Jesus to save them. My husband kept telling me to seek God in prayer to show me through His Word. I did that and God did His part.
Romans 10:9-10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
II Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
I John 5:13 "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."
I no longer doubt my salvation and God showed me its not in what I said but what my heart cried out for. My heart knew what I needed even if my mouth didn't ask for it the way someone else did. The heart language is a language that only God can understand. Isn't that a wonderful truth!! If it depended upon what we said to be saved...there would be a lot of people who didn't get saved because they didn't say the "right words". Thank God it isn't in what our mouth says...but what our heart cries out for.