Why a Prayer of Confession?
An essential element in our worship is realizing that God is God and we are not. As we recognize His deity and absolute holiness we begin to see the depths of our own sin. Perhaps, compared to others, we might find ourselves measuring up with the standards of our culture. Yet, when we measure our obedience to the perfect standards of God, we immediately see the truth of Romans 3:23- we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
This is why confession is so necessary as a part of our worship. We are an unclean people, coming to God with unclean lips and hearts (Is. 6:5). Psalm 66:18 tells us the Lord won’t even hear our prayer if we cherish sin in our hearts. When we come to worship the Lord we must first be cleansed from sin and guilt. This restores the communication between the worshipper and the One being worshipped. Psalm 51 repeats this idea when it tells us that the sacrifices God desires are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Here again the Lord tells us to come before Him with repentance and contrition.
In our time of worship we have a corporate prayer of confession as well as a time of silence for each individual to repent of their sin. God has granted this ability to each believer. We don’t need to go through a human priest or a ritualistic ceremony. We don’t rely on works that we do in order to make up for a particularly sinful week. We simply come to God, praying the words of the prayer He taught us, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Many other religions require the priest, the sacrificial ceremony, and the works of righteousness to atone for sin. Truthfully, Christianity is no different, with one key distinction. We believe in One High Priest, one final sacrifice, and one Person’s work of righteousness. Jesus Christ accomplished all that was needed to pay for every sin that would ever be confessed by His children. This is why we can be truly comforted by the words of 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”