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Psalm 32
Psalm 51

Reflect & Practice

Before you begin this exercise, take a moment to pray and ask God to help you see yourself as he sees you, his beloved child.

Now, using the Ten Commandments, spend some time writing your sins based on what you read in the Ten Commandments. When you have finished, go through each commandment one at a time, asking God to forgive you and to help you turn from that sin.

Once you have confessed your sins to God, destroy the paper you have used for your journal entry. This is to remind you that of what God says: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

Now, if you’re looking for a way to stretch your confession, consider the practice of communal confession. Theologian and author Richard Foster writes, “Confession is a difficult discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. But if we know that the people of God are first a fellowship of sinners, we are freed to hear the unconditional call of God’s love and to confess our needs openly before a brother or sister. We know we are not alone in our sin. The fear and pride that cling to us like barnacles cling to others also. We are sinners together. In acts of mutual confession we release the power that heals. Our humanity is no longer denied, but transformed.”

Confessing those places where you struggle can be powerful, and so one way you can deepen your confession is to find a trusted friend with whom you can confess. Our faith really is a community project, which can be countercultural in our independent-minded American society.

Dietrich Bonheoffer, in “Life Together,” says this: “A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark; but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light.”

That is the bottom line of the spiritual practice of confession: to bring sin into the light and to find Jesus’ love and forgiveness.

– Brad Jenkins