Sunday, January 24, 2010


Confession of sin is an essential part of life in Christ. Christ himself, as he teaches his disciples to pray, includes that familiar petition "forgive us our trespasses/sins". I have been praying that prayer almost daily for some time now, and while that line has not lost its intensity, I confess that I do find it easy some days or nights, especially when I am tired, to pass over it quickly, and without the careful thought it surely requires. In those cases it is probably better that I not pray it at all. How are we, practically speaking, to maintain an attitude of sincere repentance and joyful receiving of grace?

On Friday I heard a pastor make a really good point. He was speaking on Isaiah 6, when Isaiah encounters God and cries "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips..." (v5) His main point was this: an encounter with God in his holiness is what makes us truly understand and repent of our sin.

I agree, and ultimately it is God who reveals to us our sin. (Wonderfully it is also he who forgives!) I think God also uses the words of others to help us come to that proper attitude before him, and I wanted to share with you one such way I have found. Sometimes the heart is in the right place already, but the words are lacking; sometimes the words draw us to confession from the heart. The following "Litany of Penitence" is from P. Tickle's book of hours, from the January Compline:
Most holy and merciful Father:
I confess to you and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth.
I have not loved you with my whole heart, and mind, and strength. I have not loved my neighbors as myself. I have not forgiven others, as I have been forgiven.
Have mercy on me, Lord.
I have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. I have not been true to the mind of Christ. I have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on me, Lord.
I confess to you, Lord, all my past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, the impatience of my life,
I confess to you, Lord.
My self-indulgent appetites and ways, and my exploitation of other people,
I confess to you, Lord.
My anger at my own frustration, and my envy of those more fortunate than I,
I confess to you, Lord.
My intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and my dishonesty in daily life and work,
I confess to you, Lord.
My negligence in prayer and worship, and my failure to commend the faith that is in me,
I confess to you, Lord.
Accept my repentance, Lord, for the wrongs I have done: for my blindness to human need and suffering, and my indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept my repentance, Lord.
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward my neighbors, and for my prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from me,
Accept my repentance, Lord.
For my waste and pollution of your creation, and my lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept my repentance, Lord.
Restore me, good Lord, and let your anger depart from me,
Favorably hear me for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in me and all of your church the work of your salvation,
That I may show forth your glory in the world.
by the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring me with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Bethany! This was very apropros and poignant for me today and it was an encouragement to read.