COMPONENTS OF PRAYER 2: CONFESSION
In today’s language, we use many different expressions when we speak about confession. We talk about ‘coming clean,’ ‘bringing things into the light’ and ‘fessing up.’ Confession is the idea of exposing something in our hearts to another person. It is like opening up the door to our hearts and allowing someone else to peer in. And confession can have a powerful impact on relationships with people in our lives.
When we wrong a close friend, spouse or family member, it affects our relationship with them. Imagine the offense as a piece of glass between you and the other person. You can still see them, but there is something separating you, as if you are looking at them through a window. You can speak to them, but communication has been muffled because that piece of glass is in the way. But when you go to that person with a humble heart and confess the wrong that you have done, ask for and receive forgiveness, the power of that relational transaction shatters the glass and restores your ability to truly communicate and have intimacy with them again. And it is similar in our relationship with God.
When we sin, we harden our hearts toward the Lord because sin is rebellion against His Law. Our communication gets blocked and that piece of proverbial glass comes between us. As we humble ourselves before Him and confess our sin, ask for and receive forgiveness, our communication and intimacy are restored. Of course, when we speak of our relationship with God, confession is always one-sided. This is because God will never do anything that requires a confession on His part. But our sin has a direct impact on our relationship with Him, and confession is the first step of learning to walk in repentance and freedom.Our sin has a direct impact on our relationship with Him, and confession is the first step of learning to walk in repentance and freedom. Click To Tweet
Confession is not usually seen as the most exciting or enjoyable component of prayer. However, when viewed from this relational perspective, confession should be seen as a beautiful component of our prayer life. As the psalmist once wrote:
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5 NKJV
As children of God, we should have the desire to live our lives free from sin. We should want to live in the light. To do so, we need to give the Holy Spirit permission to shine His spotlight on our hearts and reveal anything that is not in accordance with His Word and will. Then, we should take time to ask forgiveness for the things that He reveals. We confess to Him the specific, conscious sins that we know we have committed. We can also confess those things that are hard for us to see, such as the attitudes of our hearts. As we confess those sins and weaknesses, we need to obey the Lord’s leading if there are any people in our lives that we need to make things right with.
We have a wonderful promise in the Bible:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
This conditional promise begins with our willingness to confess our sins to the Lord. But His forgiveness and cleansing are found on the other side of our confession. So, we need not approach Him with fear that He will turn us away. He promises to restore us and forgive us if we will approach Him with an open heart.We need not approach Him with fear that He will turn us away. He promises to restore us and forgive us if we will approach Him with an open heart. Click To Tweet
There is a saying I once heard that has stuck with me for years, “God only reveals to heal.” The meaning of the saying is that when the Holy Spirit reveals something in our hearts, even if it is painful for us to see, He is not doing it to rub our nose in it and make us feel guilty. Rather, it is an invitation to cooperate with Him and receive His grace to overcome it.
When we come to the Lord, it should be natural for us to ask Him questions like these:
-Is there anything in my life that is not pleasing to you?
-Is there anything I need to change?
-Is there sin in my life I need to repent of?
It is important to note that confession and introspection need to be kept in their proper places. If we become overly focused on ourselves, we can fall into guilt and condemnation. When those feelings begin to take root in our hearts, it will be difficult to engage in intimate prayer because we will feel that God is distant or angry with us. Confession should be a relational process. It is making sure we are keeping our connection with the Lord healthy. So let us make confession an active part of our prayer lives and invite Him to freely search our hearts.
Here is a FREE printable PDF that you can download to use during your prayer times to engage in confessional prayer. Use this tool to allow the Lord to search your heart and guide your prayers: Deeper in Christ- Confession Tool
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.