A prayer of confession

By including the following prayer of confession (from The Book of Common Prayer) in my morning prayer liturgy, I am reminded of my sins and God’s grace and forgiveness.

Remembering my sins and God’s grace affects how I treat people throughout the day. How can I judge others when I sin, too? When I have had God’s grace generously poured out on me, how can I not share that grace with others?

I cannot imagine beginning the day without praying this prayer.
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

We are truly sorry and we humbly repent, for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name.

Amen.

Confession

Some days the last thing reading the Psalms brings me is comfort.

So. Much. Violence.

Sometimes I am tempted to stop reading altogether.

But I read on.

Then come those days when I recognize I have violence in my own heart.

And on those days, I find comfort in the Psalms.

Confession Grows Our Souls

David Letterman asked a rock star if he regretted the large tattoo of his supermodel wife’s name across his chest since they had since divorced. The rocker answered, “No, you have to own the time.” Wise words. Rather than looking back at mistakes with regret-fueled cover-up plans, we should “own the time” to maximize our growth. Confession grows our souls.

Praying through the Story

O Lord our God,

May Your name be praised.
May You be exalted above all.
May You be praised!

You have created for us.
You have chosen us.
You have given us fresh starts.
You have delivered us.
You have taken us places.
You have always kept Your promises.
You have seen our misery.
You have heard our cries.
You have parted waters for us.
You have defeated our enemies.
You have led us, day and night.
You have come down and lived among us.
You have spoken to us to instruct and command us.
You have provided our needs.
You have invited us to enjoy generous blessings.

But…
We have been proud.
We have been stubborn.
We have ignored Your instructions.
We have refused to listen to You.
We have forgotten the ways You have blessed us.
We have been bull-headed and defiant toward You.

And still…
You forgive.
You offer mercy and grace.
You are slow to get angry with us.
You are generous with Your love.
You refuse to abandon us.
You continue to lead us, day and night.
You send Your Spirit to us.
You continue to provide our needs.
You provide for us, bless us, and multiply us.
You subdue our enemies.
You pour out blessings on us.

But…
We disobey.
We rebel.
We turn our backs on You.
We reject Your messengers.
We are bull-headed and defiant.

And so…
You let us turn from You.
You watch as we suffer at the hand of our enemies.

But then…
You see and hear our condition.
You respond with mercy.
You liberate us.

And again…
We immediately forget You.
We refuse Your direction and help.
We suffer.
We cry out

And again…
You see and hear.
You respond with mercy.
You rescue us.

But…
We are slow to learn.
We refuse to follow.
We stubbornly rebel.
We are faced with the consequences.
We are faced with what we deserve.

Great and Mighty God…
Awesome God…
O God who makes and keeps promises…
Your mercy and grace are as consistent as our sin.

Can we stop this roller coaster?
Can we break this cycle?
Thank You, merciful God for intervening.

As we review our story with You,
May we be moved to repent, confess, and change our behavior.

We pray in Jesus’ name,
AMEN.

**this prayer was inspired by Nehemiah 9

 

Right Now

“It’s better to admit you are a mutt than pretend you are a poodle.”
–Curt Cloninger

Why do we do it?
We wear masks.
We put on airs.
We pretend.
We deny.
We cover-up.
We play act.
We claim to be something we are not.
We profess to be someone we are not.

Again, why do we do it?
And what does it say about us? 
Often the only one you are fooling is yourself. 
The only one I am fooling is me.
What benefit is there to this self-deception?

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). 

What does our denial say about our understanding of God?
Doesn’t our refusal to confess reveal a lack of confidence in God’s forgiveness?
Doesn’t our reluctance to stop pretending betray a distrust of God?

“If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:10 NLT).

So why don’t we just confess?
Rather than deceiving ourselves…
And calling God a liar.
God is faithful.
God sees our sin, even our secrets.
God is full of mercy.
God is quick to forgive.

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:10).

So what are we hiding?
What secrets am I keeping?
What sins are you concealing?
Will we confess?
Right now?
Owning our sins and opening our hearts to God?
Right now?

Remember, when we confess our sin, we are affirming our trust in God.
Trust in God’s love.
Trust in God’s mercy.
Trust in God’s grace.
Trust in God’s forgiveness.
Trust in God’s word.

Come clean.
Get real.
Trust God.
Right now.

Breakthrough to Community

“In confession the breakthrough to community takes place….If a Christian is in the fellowship of confession with a brother, he will never be alone again, anywhere.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Some relationships are superficial. We talk about the weather. We complain about politicians. We question the opinion leaders.  We brag about our favorite teams. But we never get beneath the surface to matters of the heart.

Other relationships begin as superficial — we talk, complain, question, and brag–but grow into deeper relationships where matters of the heart can be safely disclosed.

So how do we transition from superficial relationships to spiritual-community relationships? In addition to talking, complaining, questioning, and bragging, we confess.

Confession often provides the breakthrough needed to take a relationship deeper. When we finally take the risk to open up our hearts and divulge our fears and failures, our secrets and sins, we often discover a safe haven where we can share true fellowship.

Will we settle for superficial, surface relationships?

Will we take the risk to confess?

High risk? Yes, of course.

High reward? Yes. You really have to experience the fellowship of confession to appreciate the security resulting from a breakthrough to community.

Confession

In her book, Talking the Walk: Letting Christian Language Live Again, Marva Dawn encourages the church to embrace the rich vocabulary of faith. She laments that many words, once rich and full of meaning, have been neglected or watered down.

On this first day of 2010, I am reflecting on Marva Dawn’s discussion of confession. She quotes (p. 66) two of Cornelius Plantinga’s parodies of contemporary confessions–

“Let us confess our problems with human relational adjustment dynamics, and especially our feebleness in networking.”

“I’d just like to share that we just need to target holiness as a growth area.”

And she contrasts these “confessions” with the following from The Lutheran Book of Worship

“Almighty God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.”

As I spend time in 2010 with God and God’s people, I want to be more honest in confessing sin. I want to reclaim not only the power of the word “confess,” but also the power of the act of confession.

A Refreshing Confession

“He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Christ'” (John 1:20 NIV).

In recent weeks I have spent some time in the Gospel of John, reflecting on the meaning of ministry. What can I learn to help me have the spirit of ministry as I live my life as a church leader? What is the key to having a ministry lifestyle rather than just a job at a church?

These words from John the Baptist caught my eye and took hold of my heart. John had a self-awareness that is absolutely essential for anyone serving as a spiritual leader: “I am not the Christ.”

I have made this confession each morning for the last three weeks. The result? This confession has refreshed my soul and released me from bondage to self-will.

“I am not the Christ.”
The church doesn’t revolve around me.

“I am not the Christ.”
The church is bigger than me.

“I am not the Christ.”
The church can and will survive without me.

“I am not the Christ.”
Jesus is the head of the church, I am not.

“I am not the Christ.”
Jesus is the Savior, I am not.

“I am not the Christ.”
Jesus holds all things together, I do not.

Does your self-awareness include a healthy understanding of your identity as servant rather than Christ? Have you ever struggled with a Messiah-complex, acting as though everything depended on you? Do you sometimes mistake the importance of your will with the importance of God’s will? Are you susceptible to an identity crisis, forgetting who you are?

Make the confession with me, would you?
Repeat after me —
“I am not the Christ.”

Say it again —
“I am not the Christ.”

One more time for emphasis —
“I am not the Christ.”

Do you feel better? I do.
What a refreshing confession.
Now if I can just live today like I really believe it!

Confession

Here are some brief excerpts from sometimes lengthy confessions posted anonymously on a website set up by a church —

  • “I confess that I have stolen about $15,000.00 when working for a family member.”
  • “I confess I have had premarital sex repeatedly and with multiple partners. I carry so much shame and guilt. I feel terrible and dirty.”
  • “I have lied to get jobs and I have lied a lot.”
  • “I love God, but I used to put my ‘ex’ above Him.”
  • “I confess that I am not patient.”
  • “I find myself being selfish of my time thinking that whatever I am doing is more important than what may be asked of me.”
  • “I want to confess my jealousy and envy.”
  • “I did not fight hard enough for my marriage, but let the enemy win.”

As I read these words I wondered what the people who wrote them looked like. I wondered what emotions they were feeling before, during, and after writing. I wondered if they found some relief after sitting at a keyboard and entering a confession into cyberspace. But mostly, I wondered if we need to put more emphasis on the confession of sin, both public, corporate confession and individual, private confession.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” Psalm 51:1-3

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

You can read more confessions at http://www.ivescrewedup.com or better yet, we can come clean with God and find a brother or sister or somebody to whom we can get real and confess our sins.