Since the terminology of asking Christ into one's heart in order to be saved became popular in the 1950s, many millions of people have asked Jesus into their hearts and thought that they were saved because they did so. Since the clear truth of the gospel of Christ is that sinners become the children of God by repentant faith alone (Gal 3:26; Jn 3:16, 18, 36; 6:47; Rom 3:28; 4:5; 5:1), the overall teaching of Scripture makes it clear that you do not need to ask Jesus to come into your heart in order to be saved. However, there are many further reasons why salvation is not based on whether you pray such a prayer. We are going to cover 14 reasons in three posts; the first five reasons are below:
1.) The Bible never commands anyone to ask Jesus to come into his heart.
Despite the widespread use of this phrase in modern times, God’s Word never commands any lost sinner to ask Jesus to come into his heart. The Old Testament sacrifical system set forth the gospel in picture and pointed forward to Christ’s work on the cross. God gave Israel many extremely detailed instructions concerning the sacrificial animals and ritual so that the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work would be properly pictured. Never once was there a command or a suggestion that any Jew was to ask into his heart the sacrifical animal or the coming Messiah the animal pictured. Furthermore, there are no examples in the New Testament of Christ telling people to ask Him into their hearts. Nor are there any examples of the Apostles telling anyone to ask Jesus into his heart. Someone who simply read the Bible would never conclude that asking Jesus into his heart is the way the lost are forgiven of their sin.
2.) Asking Jesus into your heart is not the way to be saved.
When a lost man asked the Apostle Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” the Apostle did not say, “Pray, ask Jesus into your heart, and you will be saved.” Paul said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Ac 16:30-31). Likewise, the Apostle Peter taught: “he that believeth on [Christ] shall not be confounded” (1 Pet 2:6). The Lord Jesus Himself regularly preached to the lost: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (Jn 6:47; 3:16, 18; 5:24; 6:35, 40; 11:25-26, etc.). According to Christ and the Apostles, the lost must believe on Christ to be saved, not ask Him into their heart.
3.) You can ask Jesus to come into your heart without repenting and without believing on Christ.
Scripture commands the lost, “Repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out” (Ac 3:19), and warns that “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lu 13:3, 5). However, someone can ask Jesus to come into his heart without understanding his need to repent, without knowing what repentance is, without any desire to repent, and without ever repenting. If you ask Jesus into your heart ten thousand times, but never repent, you will perish. If you repent, but never ask Jesus into your heart, your sins will be blotted out. Likewise the Bible affirms: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (Jn 3:36). Someone who asks Christ into his heart but never believes is still under the wrath of God, while someone who believes on Christ but never asks Him into his heart has everlasting life. Nor should you assume that you believed on the Lord Jesus because you asked Him into your heart. A lost man can ask Jesus into his heart without understanding or assenting mentally to the facts of the gospel. He can also assent mentally to the gospel and ask Christ into his heart without ever “believ[ing]” and “trust[ing] in Christ” (Eph 1:12-14). Saving faith involves understanding the gospel, assent to it, and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 11:13), but asking Jesus into your heart does not require any of these three things.
4.) Real salvation involves a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but no such work is required to ask Jesus into your heart.
All lost people are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1-3). Since sin has corrupted every part of their fallen nature (Jer 17:9), they have blinded eyes, hardened hearts, and minds unable to submit to God (Jn 12:40; Rom 8:7; 3:11). They are so utterly enslaved to sin (Rom 6:17) and Satan (2 Tim 2:26) that they are unable to repent or believe (Jn 12:40) apart from God in His grace miraculously drawing them to Himself. God must supernaturally give the lost the repentance (2 Tim 2:25) and faith (Phil 1:29) that they will never produce in themselves (Jn 3:6)—they will only believe “if God permit” (Heb 6:3). The Lord Jesus explained: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (Jn 6:44). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must inwardly “teach” and “draw” the lost (Jn 6:44-45; 12:32; 16:8-11); the Son must supernaturally reveal the Father to them (Mt 11:27), and the Holy Spirit must “renew” them (Heb 6:6) and produce faith in them through the Word of God (Rom 10:17). Just as God took a world in darkness and miraculously and creatively spoke light into existence (Gen 1:3), so believers can say, “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). At the same moment a sinner is enabled to believe by God’s mighty grace, he is born again (Jn 3:5) and made a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). God miraculously shines His gracious light into his dark heart, renews him and makes him willing to come to Christ, gives him repentance and faith, draws him to embrace Christ, and raises him from spiritual death to spiritual life in a miracle as real as the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus’ body from His tomb (Eph 2:1-6). A lost sinner coming to Christ in repentant faith is an astonishing display of Divine power that brings the new Christian into living fellowship with God (Jn 17:3; 1 Jn 1:3), removes his fundamental bent towards sin and creates a new bent toward holiness (Eze 36:26-27), and leaves him radically and permanently changed. On the other hand, nothing miraculous or supernatural must take place for someone to ask Jesus into his heart. A winsome personality, emotional music, manipulative salesmanship, psychological techniques, and many other merely human and natural traits have been sufficient to lead millions to ask Jesus to come into their hearts without any work of the the Holy Spirit whatsoever.
5.) Asking Jesus into your heart directs you away from what Christ has done to what you are doing.
The gospel is the good news that “Christ died for our sins . . . was buried, and . . . rose again the third day” (1 Cor 15:3-4). A lost sinner must not look to himself, his religious actions, or anything he has done, is doing, or will do for salvation. He must look away from and outside of himself to trust in what the Son of God accomplished in history when He paid the penalty for his sins on the cross and rose victoriously from the grave. The gospel call is: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). The Savior declares: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth” (Is 45:21-22). The “preach[ing] of the gospel” is the “preaching of the cross”; when “Jesus Christ is evidently set forth [as] crucified,” then one is “preach[ing] the gospel” (1 Cor 1:17-18; Gal 3:1). On the other hand, the sinner who asks Jesus into his heart is very likely to look away from Christ to his own heart and to the fervency, sincerity, and attitude in which he made his prayer. He is likely to rely on the non-biblical promise, perhaps made to him by some zealous but misguided convert-maker, that if he will ask Jesus to come in he will be saved, instead of relying on the many Biblical promises made by God that all who believe on Christ will be saved. The best prayers, the greatest fervency, and the most complete sincerity ever found in a fallen man are but as filthy rags before God (Is 64:6)—there is no hope in them. The gospel is not that a sinner must pray, ask to be saved, and have faith that God will answer his prayer. The gospel is that Christ died in the place of sinful men, was buried, and rose again, and those that entrust themselves to Him are given eternal life (1 Cor 15:1-4). The lost must turn from every false hope—including the false hope that salvation is received by faith and prayer, rather than by faith alone in Christ alone—and place their confidence in what alone is a sure ground for their souls—the substitutionary death and shed blood of the Son of God.
These 14 reasons are a portion of a larger study which will not be reproduced on this blog at this time. The larger study can be accessed here.
 See “Bible Study #5: How Do I Receive the Gospel?” at http://faithsaves.net/Bible-studies/ for more on the nature of true repentance and saving faith.