When the word “Acts” is used to help us understand parts of prayer, the letter “C” stands for Confession.
Tom had just retrieved his football from his dad’s greenhouse and now he and his two friends stood glumly looking at the glass they had broken by playing football on the lawn which Tom’s dad had expressly forbidden. “Dad will kill me”, said Tom, as his friends left the scene. Tom thought it best to tell his dad as soon as possible and face the consequences. After the confession father and son looked at the damage together. Then Dad just said “OK son we’ll get it fixed tomorrow…oh…and thanks for telling me”. Both father and son felt good. The father knows how much his son trusts him, and Tom is even more aware of his dad’s love.
Confession is not a punishment – it’s a therapy. St James writes about this at the end of his practical letter. Having given instructions about elders of the church anointing sick people for healing, he goes on to link confession and healing. (Chapter 5:16a)
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
As a relationship between two people deepens, it is not uncommon for one of them to say “before we go any further there are some things I need to get off my chest” (Remember our heart, is in our chest!). The person knows that the loving relationship can only develop where there is heartfelt openness and frankness.
Our prayer relationship with God is no different. God is all knowing. Confession actually starts with a loving act of God. In John 16:7 Jesus describes the Holy Spirit is “another Counsellor”. A good human counsellor initiates a conversation that will help their client give voice about how and why they behave in the way they do and to understand its consequences. The Holy Spirit helps us see our actions from God’s point of view and our confession is agreeing with what He has told us in our minds.
Many find accepting the forgiveness even more difficult than confession. We know that sin is not a trivial matter. We can’t fix it like replacing a greenhouse window. Mending our sinful brokenness can only be done by God, with an infinite act of love. This, of course, takes place on the cross. It is here that Jesus shows us the full extent of God’s love and forgiveness for us. He cries out.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”
Holding on to the sin after confessing it, is like saying to God “I believe my sin is greater than all the love you showed us through the crucifixion and resurrection of your only Son Our Lord Jesus Christ”.
The Cross shows us the cost of forgiveness, and the Resurrection shows us how wonderfully possible it is.
Sin infects the whole of humanity. Yes God loves me as a Father loves his child. But in today’s individualistic “me culture” we must never forget that
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16)
Not only do I need the personal one to one relationship that confession and forgiveness brings, but I also need to remember my part in an infected humanity. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray as a community of faith
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Next – Thanks