In blogging about prayer and in keeping a prayer journal, there is one type of prayer I don’t dwell on very often. Prayers of confession and repentance are very important, but I don’t include them in my journal and I don’t spend much time analyzing them. It’s not that I want to ignore them or that I want to give a false impression that I don’t say them.
I’m a saint–but only in the sense that Christ’s blood is my atonement and my only hope of salvation. He who started the work is still working, and there’s a lot of work yet to be done. So, while I include prayers of confession and repentance in my practice of pursuing prayer, I don’t write them down or share them publicly.
Here are some of the reasons I don’t spend more time talking about confession:
- Confession is not meant to be a public spectacle. It is generally private and very personal between an individual and God. Apologies may be public, and repentance may include public atonement or recompense, but those are not prayer; rather they are the actions taken in conjunction with and as a result of prayer and confession.
- Confession is fundamental– it’s not a prayer option, or a stylistic preference–every one of us has sinned, and we all need to admit to our sins, bring them before the throne of God’s grace, and ask for his forgiveness. Hiding sins, denying sins, or lying about them will get in the way of all our other prayers.
- Writing about past sins keeps them alive and keeps the focus on me and on my faults, rather than on God and on His Grace.
- Making confession public has a tendency to devolve into gossip and self-justification. Descriptions of my sinful actions will necessarily be from my incomplete and very biased point of view. Other people can be misrepresented and hurt.
- But the last reason is my favorite– I don’t waste time writing down and discussing past sins because GOD HAS FORGOTTEN THEM! Writing them down, rehearsing them, analyzing them–even analyzing how I might approach confession won’t change God’s response:
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:10-12 New International Version (NIV)
- The key is that we DO confess– humbly, consistently, and with a heart of true repentance. What follows is a free and forgiven conscience, no longer weighted down or pulled off focus by guilt and doubt.