A PLAN FOR PRAYER – CONFESSION
Vance Havner was organizing his late father’s papers when he came across a note in his dad’s handwriting. The note simply said, “Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right, and nothing is ever settled right until it is settled with God.” How true!
The Scripture teaches the importance of confession – asking God on a daily basis to forgive our sins. The Word of God says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”1 That verse is good news for sinners. It promises that through the prayer of confession and repentance, believers can discover God’s forgiveness and cleansing. And we need that privilege everyday. Jesus said, “…Each day has enough trouble of its own.”2 The word translated “trouble” in the New International Version is the Greek word kakia which can mean “bad”, as in “troublesome.” But more often it means “depraved”, “wicked” or “evil.” Jesus said everyday will be full of trouble and evil. Our world is an ocean filled with the lure of temptation and we often take the bait.
Because we fail so often, God wants to cleanse and forgive us so that we might be clean and holy in our daily walk with Him. Confession and repentance invite blessings of forgiveness into our lives, and we cannot make progress in our daily walk when we are living in unconfessed disobedience.
Many of the mighty men of prayer in Scripture prayed prayers of confession. When Nehemiah was seeking God, and trying to find God’s will about the condition of the city wall around Jerusalem, he prayed and fasted. The Scripture says Nehemiah knew his own sins were serious business. He prayed, “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my Father’s house, have committed against you.”3
David committed adultery and lied. He arranged for the woman’s husband to be in a place of military danger with no chance of survival and the man was, in fact, killed as a result. David used his power and influence to satisfy his own lust but he came to the point where he could stand the guilt no longer and prayed, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”4
When Isaiah saw the Lord, his first response was confession. He prayed, “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips.…”5
One of the beautiful truths about our God is His unfailing willingness to forgive sin. He forgave the Bible characters and He will forgive you. Effective prayer must include transparent confession of sin.
Not long ago my wife and I bought a new laptop for my son’s schoolwork. What I did not know is how much software is pre-loaded on some new computers. The vast majority of it is unnecessary and only a few owners might want it or need it. As a result of all this unwanted “stuff” on our new laptop, the thing moved slower than Christmas! So when I took it back to the electronics store, they erased a measurable percentage of the stuff we would never want or need. After that, the computer worked much better and was noticeably faster.
That computer is a lot like us when our lives are full of sin and “stuff” that so regularly clutters our soul. When we do sin, it brings spiritual pain, and noticeable consequences, and we sense a distance from God. In fact, the psalmist declared, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”6 In other words, unconfessed sin devastates our prayer life.
By confessing our sin and asking God’s forgiveness, He cleanses us from everything sinful and spiritually harmful. As a result, our spiritual lives run more smoothly and we walk in the freedom of being forgiven. The Bible says, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”6 One of the most powerful prayers we ever pray involves the simple statement, “Lord, I am sorry.”
1. 1 John 1:9.
2.. Matthew 6:34.
3.. Nehemiah 1:6.
4.. Psalm 51:2.
5. Isaiah 6:5.
6. Psalm 66:18.