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Confession: How to Get Started

March 4th, 2018

John Chandler

This Sunday we talked about confession as a practice to help restore and heal broken relationships between us and others and us and God. Through confession we examine ourselves for faults or weaknesses we can surrender to God and embrace the love and forgiveness of Christ which leads to transformation.

Here are the steps we discussed for how to give and hear a confession.

How to confess?:

  • Spend some time asking God to reveal your heart to you. Read Psalm 51, sit quietly and see what comes up.
  • Arrange to confess to someone you trust. Find someone with empathy, who keeps confidence, who won’t shrug off what you share with them as no big deal, nor will they be horrified at what you tell them.
  • Meet somewhere privately and share your confession.
  • Allow adequate time to pray about and share your confession.

How to hear a confession?:

  • Begin with an awareness of your own need for Jesus and God’s grace to remove any sense of superiority.
  • Keep confidentiality.
  • Remember you cannot control others. You are simply there to listen and to pray.
  • Be quiet, don’t pry, don’t relieve tension with your own stories. Wait in silence if the person you’re with needs time to talk or process.
  • Avoid giving advice or correction.
  • End by praying for God’s assurance of forgiveness over the person.

This is the prayer of forgiveness we ended with yesterday. You can modify this to pray over someone who has shared their confession with you adding their name to personalize it.

God, we know you love [name] as your daughter/son and that you have already forgiven her/him. We ask you to have mercy on [name]. Forgive her/him and deliver her/him from her/his sins. Build [name] up and strengthen her/him in your goodness. Help us bear with one another and forgive each other as you’ve forgiven us. Give her/him a clean heart, God, and remind her/him that she/he is yours so that she/he may serve you with a right spirit and a quiet mind, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

If your community group would like to practice the Rite of Forgiveness this week, here are some simple instructions

Form a large circle with the ends overlapping. Those two people facing each other will be the first to ask for and receive forgiveness. You can say, “[Name], for the ways I’ve wounded or hurt you, I ask your forgiveness.” Put it in your own words if you would like to. The person they’re facing responds, “[Name], I forgive you. Will you forgive me for how I’ve hurt you?” They’re forgiven and the pair embraces. Then everyone moves one person to the right where the ritual repeats itself until everyone in your group has had a chance to both ask for and receive forgiveness from everyone else. Include the kids too as they express interest in participating. Allow the Holy Spirit to work as things come up. End with some silence reflecting on the forgiveness you’ve all received.