When I feel bogged down by my sin and shame, I often feel far from God. There is good reason for that. Psalm 66:18 says,
If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
When I go for days (or weeks!) without carefully confessing my sin, I start to feel like I am talking to a brick wall in prayer. Confession is an essential part of our prayer lives as believers. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord, asking for His forgiveness and help when we fall short. (Which is approximately every day if you’re anything like me!)
A great prayer of confession is found in Psalm 51. It’s a great guide to a time of confession with the Lord.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
One of the things I love about this whole Psalm is the natural progression you see: confession is made (v1-6), forgiveness is granted (7-9), the heart is clean, filled with joy, and upheld by God (v10-12) and THEN ministry can happen (v13). This time of confession– allowing God to cleanse me is so essential to me being able to minister effectively to my husband, my children, and to others in the community.
How do you spend time in confession to the Lord? Do you follow a pattern or Scripture for confessing sin? Do you see a difference in your “ministry” when you have unconfessed sin in your heart?