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A prayer of confession is a way for us to acknowledge and repent from our sins. Through prayers of confession, we come clean with God about our mistakes and need for God’s grace, preparing our hearts to be cleansed by Christ’s sacrifice and transformed by the Holy Spirit. Many of the prayer of confession ideas in this collection draw inspiration from the Belhar Confession.

Prayers of Confession

Prayer adapted from Psalm 4

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. How long will humanity turn your glory into shame? How long will your people love delusions and seek false gods? In my anger I have sinned; though you continue to search my heart for love. Forgive me, O Lord, and help me to follow your teaching and live a life that is pleasing to you, so that your face may once again shine upon me. Amen.

Prayer adapted from Psalm 120

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. What will he do to you, and what more besides, O deceitful tongue? He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom tree. Too long have I lived among those who hate peace and seek out war to justify their means. Teach me to be a person of peace, so that I may do my part in bringing love to the world.

Prayer adapted from Psalm 86 #1

Hear, O Lord, and answer me;
for as rich as I may think that I am,
I confess that I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.
You are my God;
save your servant who trusts in you.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you
in their time of desperation and need.
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy. Amen.

Prayer adapted from Psalm 86 #2

In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me.
When I have done what is wrong
and displeasing in your sight,
O Lord, extend your love to correct me.
When I ignore those in need
and pretend that all is right with the world,
O Lord, help me to face the truth.
When I turn a blind eye to those
who have been stricken with poverty
and are facing the injustices that come along with it,
O Lord, teach me your way.
Enable me to extend your love;
and give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God,
with all my heart;
and I will glorify your name forever. Amen.

Prayer from the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland

God our Father,
in the name of him
who gave bread to the hungry,
we remember all
who through our human ignorance,
folly, and sin
are condemned to live in want.
Show us, who have so much,
what we can do
to help those who have so little;
and bless the efforts of those
who work to overcome poverty and hunger,
that sufficient food may be found for all;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Responsive prayer of confession

There are many ways to be unfaithful to what we have become through baptism,
to our commitment and our obedience to God.
We offer God now our prayers of repentance.
We confess to you, living God,
our failure to live as brothers and sisters, and as your children.

We confess to you, loving God,
that we have not loved you as you have loved us.
We confess to you, gracious God,
that we have doubted your word and failed to obey its teaching.

We confess to you, merciful God,
our desire to own you and contain you within our doctrines and theologies.
We confess to you, almighty God,
that we do not acknowledge you as Lord of all the earth.

Forgive us and redeem us for we have not allowed your presence to shine among us.
There are many ways in which we have failed
in our commitment and obedience to our fellow men and women.

We turn towards our neighbors and our friends
and offer them our prayers of repentance.
–Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY

Reconciliation prayer of confession

O God of shalom,
we have built up walls to protect ourselves from our enemies,
but those walls also shut us off from receiving your love.
Break down those walls.
Help us to see that the way to your heart
is through the reconciliation of our own hearts with our enemies.
Bless them and us, that we may come to grow in love
for each other and for you, through Jesus Christ.
–Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY