Pray with Me? #2 (Confession)

Kyle Bartholic   -  

Confession… I don’t know about you, but it is a word that sends chills down my spine. I think it is the reality that confession requires vulnerability in the most stripped bare sense of the word. And, if I am honest, that is not something I wake up eager to participate in. Why? Well, because it requires me to really examine parts of my heart that I’d prefer to stay hidden. However, the beauty of Christianity is the gracious reception of the One whom we offer our confession to, our Heavenly Father.

How many of us have had the experience where an adult or a person in authority over us has said, “Just tell me the truth, and I won’t be angry.” to then, only have them get angry at our truthful confession? It is damaging, to say the least. Yet, John tells us that it is not so with our Father in Heaven; he says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I Jn. 1:9) Our Father in Heaven extends grace, love, mercy, and healing to us when we confess our sins to him. What a beautiful gift! And, the more we enter into rhythms of confession, the greater the depth our experience of those things will be.

Why? Two reasons:

  1. Confession reorients our perspective on God’s goodness and away from ourselves.
  2. Confession builds intimacy with God through trust.


Confession –  to acknowledge our sin to God


Prayers of confession are prayers that focus on seeing ourselves in the light of God’s truth. So, how do we go about confession in our prayers? There are seven penitential Psalms, namely, 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. Some of these could also be classified as lament psalms, but they are called penitential psalms because they have traditionally been used for self-examination and confession of sins.[1]


  1. Allow God to reveal to you what you need to confess.
    1. Begin your time of confession by asking God to reveal what he wants to call out in your heart.
    2. Remember, John tells us that God loves us, is faithful to forgive us, and then leads us into righteousness. That means through confession; he helps us to grow and flourish!
  2. Join God in protesting the brokenness and sinfulness of this world. (Lament)
    1. Prayers of lament are a form of confession. Instead of confessing my private sins, we confess corporate sins and acknowledge the brokenness they bring.
    2. Lament is an important aspect of confessing prayer. When we offer prayers of lament, we protest the brokenness of this world, and we grieve with God as he grieves over it.
      1. Yes, God grieves the evil and brokenness in this world.
    3. Interestingly, when we participate in lament, it softens our hearts for the broken, hurting, and the lost.
  1. Set an intentional time to pray.
    1. This does not need to be long. If you are just starting a prayer journey, begin by focusing on adoration for 5 minutes at a time. If you are trying to grow your discipline of prayer, add short, focused times of adoration to your established rhythms. The goal is growth and enjoyment of presence, not perfection.
    2. I love to use my phone to schedule times to pray throughout my day. It will vibrate and remind me of my appointed times. Frankly, this helps me to remember in the buzz and busyness of the day. Don’t be above using visual reminds to help you pray.
  1. Pray – Let God’s Spirit flow through you.
    1. No matter where you are at in your prayer journey, the biggest hurdle is not having the intention to pray; it is the action of praying. Don’t be discouraged; just pray. Short or long, focused or distracted, or eager or hesitant… your Father in Heaven wants to hear from you and be present to you. He delights in you drawing near to him!



A prayer of confession: Psalm 51 is a beautiful example of a confessing prayer.

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

       according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

   Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

   For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

   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.

   Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,

and in sin did my mother conceive me.

   Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,

and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.


[1] Gordon Wenham, The Psalter Reclaimed: Praying and Praising with the Psalms (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013).