A Prayer of Confession and Assurance
I hope you’re finding rest in Christ this week. Over the past few months, we’ve been studying Matthew’s Gospel as part of our corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, and this Sunday we will turn to chapter six, where we find what is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” My desire, though, is not simply that we gain a better understanding of this powerful and timeless teaching of our Savior, but that, by it, we are inspired to embrace dependent prayer in a way that we never have before.
With that in mind, I will be offering some helps over the summer in various forms, to guide you in your adoration of, and intercession with God, starting with the prayer of confession below (which is my adaptation of a Puritan prayer from the seventeenth century, that you can read and recite as the Spirit leads you). May God establish within our hearts a deep-seated trust in his goodness and providence, and stir within our souls a passion to pursue him relentlessly.
O God of Grace, Our Father,
I come to you now in desperate need of your forgiveness and tender mercies. I have been hasty and short in my private prayer; I have been quick to rely on my own strength and planning; I have subtly moved you to the periphery. Awaken my heart to lament this folly; to bewail this lack of understanding of you and of myself.
My first sin of the day, my insistence on autonomy, leads to many others: the neglect of those around me who are in need; the presumption that I am justified in my thoughts and actions; a lack of love for my neighbor; and worst of all, a lack of love for you. My reliance on my own strength has led to countless failures on my part. Lord, help me. Keep me from robbing you of the worship you desire, and are solely worthy of. Keep me from having lofty notions of myself, while entertaining thoughts of you that are mundane, and ordinary. Keep me from giving myself the benefit of the doubt, while questioning your every motive. Prevent me from praising you with my mouth, while remaining spiritually aloof and disconnected. Set my heart ablaze for you, God.
With my voice I sing praises to you, my mouth proclaims you as Lord, but my heart is often slow to feel. Gratitude eludes me. Father, forgive me as I have dishonored you with my priorities, allowing my mind to be captivated by temporal things, while remaining unmoved at thoughts of your grace. Your holiness. Your salvation. May I never forget that you have my soul in your hands. You uphold me by your strong right hand. You give me everything I need, and indeed, so much more than I deserve.
Apply to me the merits of Christ’s atoning work for my sin. Cause me to hate what is evil and to cling to what is good. Grant that through the lens of repentance, I may see more clearly the beauty and sufficiency of the cross. Let your mercies draw me to yourself. Cause me, by your grace, to long for your coming.
And, Father, enable me to rest in this: to all who confess their sins to you, you are faithful and just to forgive. This is my assurance: what you set free, is free indeed. When you forgive, you remove our offenses as far as the east is from the west. For those who trust in you alone, nothing shall separate us from your love: not trials, nor victories, not failures, not successes, neither valleys nor mountaintops. For you keep us for yourself.
Be my portion today and every day. Give me more grace. Stir my soul to trust only in you. There is no treasure so great as to rest in the finished work of Jesus, the only One through whom I dare approach you. And the One in whose name I pray, even now. Amen.