Prayers of confession
All of us get things wrong and when we do it troubles us - at least it should do! We know when we have said or done something that has caused upset or offence to someone else. We know how powerful words are and how easily hurtful words can result in broken relationships or cause other trouble of other kinds.
Prayers of confession are central to Christian prayer because the Bible teaches that we all mess up, Christians too, just as much as anyone else. And Christians also know that there are two relationships that can be affected when we do get things wrong. Firstly, there is the relationship with the other person and secondly, there is our relationship with God.
Jesus teaches that we should forgive those who wrong us. He also teaches that when we wrong someone else we should take the initiative and try and put it right - to be reconciled to that person. But in addition to this, Jesus also teaches (see the Lord's prayer for example) that we should seek God's forgiveness as well for the wrong things we have done. Why should we do this? Well for one thing, the Bible is clear that your life and mine is a gift from God. It matters to Him how we use that life. Ultimately, our lives belong to Him and we are accountable to Him for how we use them. If we do things wrong and acknowledge that we need and want His forgiveness, then He will grant it. If on the other hand, we refuse to acknowledge our need for His forgiveness then we risk losing His blessing and His friendship with us. The Bible teaches that we can grieve the Spirit of God by our words and our actions. It urges us not to do so, but if we do, to confess our sins to God so that He will forgive us, grant us His peace and restore fellowship between us.
One other thing to say (before we get to the prayer itself) is that Christian confession involves repentance. This is an old fashioned word and not everyone understands it today. It means 'turning about' or going in the opposite direction. In other words, when we say sorry to God, he wants us to recognise our need to change the way we think, change the way we act and the way we speak etc. This is more than being sorry for what has happened (remorse); it is saying to God that I want to change my ways so that I live my life more in accord with Jesus' teaching. This is the basis of the Christian life.
A prayer of confession
O Lord, you know what has happened today. You have heard it all, seen it all.
Lord, I am not proud for the things I have said and even less for what I have thought.
I know that even the very innermost thougths of my mind are open before you and that I am kidding myself if I think you miss a thing. So I know there is nowhere to hide from you.
Lord, you also know that I am not entirely to blame. What about the others? And yet if I am honest, I know that I have to take responsibility for myself and I can't off load the blame as much as I might wish to.
One thing I know, Lord, is that I have lost that sense of inner peace. I know my heart and mind are troubled. Can there be an end to this?
Lord Jesus, you taught forgiveness and you showed forgiveness. Please give me your strength so that I can forgive but also seek forgiveness and say sorry. Lord, that is hard to do but I know it needs to be done. Please give me the grace and the words to do it right.
Lord, I also know that I want to be right with you again. Thank you that you forgive me when I seek your pardon. Thank you that Jesus died for me so that my failures can be wiped away and a new start made with you.
Help me Lord to learn from this, so that with your help, I will do things differently next time.
This is my prayer Lord, which I bring in Jesus' name.
Bible verse (1 John 1 verses 9 - 10)
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim not to have sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."
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