Prayer of Confession

A huge component of prayer is confession of sin and reconciliation with others. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9-13, one of the lines is “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Jesus makes it clear that confession is God’s tool to keep our spiritual hearts clean. Just as we eat healthily, and exercise to keep our physical heart healthy, God gives us spiritual exercises to keep our spiritual heart healthy.


Three Components of Confession 

Attitude- Luke 18:9-14. 

1. The context of this parable is prayer, and Jesus addresses our attitude toward prayer. Jesus contrasts the heart of two men: a Pharisee whose heart is prideful (Pharisees were an ancient Jewish group that focused on traditions and man-appointed works. Later this group would become rabbinic Judaism), and a tax collector whose heart is humble

2. Attitude is central to prayer. The relationship with God is not transactional. Operating in our new creation covenant is through God’s mercy and grace, as we approach God in prayer. We speak of the “fear of the Lord” which refers to revering and having awe for the Lord for His nature and attributes. When we see God for who He is, our natural response is humility and confession. Think of how your attitude affects your prayer life.

Vertical confession- Psalm 51:1-4,7, 10. 

Confession literally means “Amen.” Confession is agreeing with God about me. God already knows the truth about me; in confession, I acknowledge to God that I know the truth about me. 

1. This Psalm is David’s prayer following his affair with Bathsheba. He admits that his sin broke the heart of God, and he needs God to cleanse his heart and renew his spirit. 

2. Most people run elaborate sin management systems. They are sorry when they get caught. People who truly confess understand that their sin broke God’s heart. In confession, we agree with God about our sin, and we ask Him to cleanse our hearts and restore the fellowship to us through the power of Holy Spirit.

3. One prayer practice to help with this is called the prayer of Examen

St. Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish soldier who experienced a dramatic conversion while recovering from the wounds of battle. After receiving God’s call on his life, he helped found the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit order. In the sixteenth century, Ignatius crafted the Spiritual Exercises which introduced the prayer of the Examen. This prayer is asking; “Am I conscious of God’s love and presence each day?”

In this prayer, let’s examine our day in the presence of God, allowing Him to walk through my day with me, and help me see my day through His eyes. The prayer of Examen is a prayer of self-reflection. It has 4 parts: 

Replay– replay your day in as much detail as possible.

Rejoice– rejoice over the places where you saw God at work.

Repent– repent over the places where you did not honor or represent God well.

Reboot– ask God for the strength and wisdom to handle the challenges of tomorrow. 


Horizontal reconciliation- James 5:16. 

1. James 5:16 tells us to “confess your sins to one another.” I cannot separate my relationship with God from my relationships with others. My sin breaks God’s heart (breaks fellowship, but not the relationship), but my sin also hurts those who walk through life with me. The greatest commandment is to “love God… and love people.” There is a correlation between how I walk out my relationship with God and how I interact with others. In Matthew 5:24-25 Jesus says that “if you are offering a sacrifice to God and remember that someone has something against you, leave the altar and reconcile with that person. Then come back and give your offering.” We cannot be more reconciled with God than we are with our neighbors. The two are linked. Often when I confess my sin to God, He has me take an action step to go make it right with my neighbor. This action step comes right out of the prayer of examination. God reveals where others may be hurt, and I go to them to “make it right.” 


2. In the Lord’s prayer, it says “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Jesus uses a financial term in this verse- debt. My sin toward God is like an unpayable debt. In confession, I ask God to forgive my debt, and I respond to God’s mercy by forgiving the debts that others have incurred against me. Part of confession and reconciliation is forgiving those who have hurt me. This is a powerful tool for peace and joy in life. Think of your heart like a plumbing pipe. Unforgiveness clogs the pipe of your heart. Forgiveness clears the pipe allowing Holy Spirit to flow through you. Forgiveness is God’s gift to you to keep your heart pure and clean. “Unforgiveness is like taking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” 


3. Matthew 6:14-15 ties forgiveness of others to forgiveness from God. Once again, our relationship with God is tied to our relationship with others. They go hand in hand. In order to keep the peace flowing from God to us, we must make peace with others.



Heavenly Father, I want my heart to be aligned with Your heart as I cooperate with you through prayer.  Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me evaluate myself to see if there is anything that I need to address in the area of forgiveness with others. I want my heart to be clear and clean about how I see and treat people. If there are areas where I need to change, I ask You to reveal them to me. Help me as I step forward to make things the way they ought to be.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Pastor Peter Henneberry

Peter Henneberry,

EMIC Groups Pastor
 Office: 817-252-2925
E-mail/ Group questions