See a video version of this guide
The prayer of confession at Crossway can follow an established order, or people can create something of their own. Either way, the goal is to support people in confessing their sin to God, and then in receiving assurance of forgiveness in Christ. Teaching should be minimal in this time of prayer. A story can be helpful. Whatever we do should focus on the goal: to help people speak to God their confession and to hear God’s expression of forgiveness in Christ.
Below is a sample flow that is simple, direct, and clear. If you use this pattern, you can select any of the options in each section.
Example prayer of confession from our worship service
Multiple strategies for leading
Those who lead our prayers of confession and words of assurance have a lot of freedom to plan. Below is a plan based on the Book of Common Prayer. Other ideas include:
- Developing the confession and assurance using the songs that have been planned for before and after the prayer time
- Developing the confession and assurance using the Scripture reading for the day
- Using your own life experiences to help guide the prayer
- Using the sermon text or title as a guide
Sample adapted from the Book of Common Prayer
[choose one of these options]
Jesus said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8,9
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. … Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14,16
Let us confess our sins, both those that are against God and those that are against people
[leave silence: perhaps 2 minutes, which can feel like a very long time]
Leader and people together
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Almighty and most merciful father,
we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts,
we have gone against your holy laws and teaching,
we have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
But you, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare those who confess their faults,
restore those who are turn to you in sorrow for their sins,
according to your promises declared to us
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may be changed to live a godly, righteous, and honorable life,
to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.
May Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you
in eternal life. Amen.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4