A Sample Prayer of Corporate Confession
Author’s note: I recently led our church in this prayer of confession. Before we started praying, we read from Job 1–2 and saw that no one is totally exempt from suffering, even those who fear the Lord. Then I asked our church, “In what ways have you and I distrusted God’s goodness and God’s sovereignty over our lives, even this past week?”
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Lord, we just read how Job suffered much in his life. He suffered the loss of his estate. His economic welfare. His livelihood. He also suffered the loss of his own children—7 sons and 3 daughters. Lord, even losing 1 child would be enough to send a person into a lifetime of grief. But 10? And yet, we read in Job 1:21, Job’s immediate reaction to his suffering was grief andworship.
Lord, we confess this often is NOT our immediate response to suffering and loss in our lives. Instead of worship, we worry. Instead of grieving with hope, we gripe in unbelief. Instead of acknowledging Your “taking something away” from our lives and accepting it by faith as a part of Your perfect plan, we harbor bitterness toward you. We even begin to distrust you. We begin to say things like, “I’ve served You and I’ve sacrificed for You LORD, and this is what You give me in return?!” O Lord, have mercy on our self-righteous hearts. You have treated us better than our sins deserve. How often we forget that.
Lord, we acknowledge that we can be such a “double-minded” people. We bless you with our lips, but with the same mouth, we curse others made in your image. This ought not to be so.
Lord, we ask you for wisdom, and yet we don’t look to your Scriptures for daily guidance. We come to church, listen to a sermon, accept only what we feel comfortable with hearing, and walk away unchanged. We blame it on attention spans or preferences to preaching styles, but the issue is what’s going on in our hearts. We don’t want to come face-to-face with what the Bible actually says about us. We often “tolerate” Your Word in our lives, but we rarely treasure it. That’s because we know it speaks to our sin. It speaks to our unrighteous anger. It speaks to our lusts and pride. It speaks to the locked doors in the house of our hearts. And instead of allowing the light of Your truth to penetrate and expose the darkness within us, we slam the door shut. We try to put extra locks on the door, thinking we can hide from You and hide from others. In our natural, fleshly desires, we hate the light, and we want to keep hiding from it. Forgive us for our foolishness, O Lord.
Lord, you tell us in your Word that we are to seek first the kingdom of God and your righteousness. And you tell us not to be anxious about tomorrow. And yet, we come up with 10 reasons why Jesus doesn’t understand our tomorrows. We quietly rationalize in our hearts: “Jesus really didn’t know what he was talking about.” We have that audacity to tell you that our world today and all its problems are greater than what people faced in “Bible times.” And so, we fretfully complain: “Lord, don’t you realize that we have a divided country over politics and race? We have a divided country over the COVID-19 virus, and wearing masks, and how we should think about vaccines. Lord, surely, you’ll give us a pass on the whole ‘trusting you’ thing. Surely, you’ll give us a pass on preserving peace in the church. Surely. you’ll put an asterisk next to 2020–2021 and let us ‘vent’ however we want.” Father, have mercy on us. Our minds need to be renewed so we can think your thoughts on our sufferings, instead of our own futile thoughts.
Lord, instead of being quick to listen, we are quick to defend ourselves. Instead of seeking to love others, we demand to be heard by others. Convict us in our pride, O Lord, and create in each one of us humble and peacemaking spirits.
Lord, many of us are more fearful of dying than we are sinning against you. We read in Job 1:1 that Job was a man “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” And yet, even in the midst of immense suffering, we read that “Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Father, getting sick can be a scary thing. Facing the reality of our mortality is a sobering thought. But remind us this morning, O Lord, that in Christ, we are more than conquerors through you who loved us. Because all you have done for us through Christ’s death for our sins and his resurrection from the dead, we should fear sinning against more than death. We should be more concerned about being faithful even unto death, rather than being fearful and weighed down by the anxieties.
Lord, you tell us in your Word that we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Yet how many times have we been impatient with those who weep and full of envy for those who are rejoicing? We say we deserve better than the next person, but we forget that all we have is from you and your grace. Every blessing we receive is from you. And every blessing we don’t receive is given according to your wise plan for our lives. Forgive us, Lord.
And Father, we confess that we can be unloving comforters to those who are suffering. We admit that we’d rather play the “armchair quarterback” to people’s sufferings. Critiquing their complaints. Critiquing how they aren’t handling their suffering well like “we do.” Instead of humbly sympathizing with other people’s pain and showing care and concern, we offer foolish advice or simply dismiss their pain as trivial.
O Lord, please forgive us. Forgive us for not being tender-hearted and compassionate. Cleanse us of our pride and stubbornness. Forgive us for ever charging you with wrong. Forgive us for not worshipping you, even as you give and you take away.
We ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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Suffering in this life is painful and troubling for us all. But eternal suffering is even worse.
So who is the happiest, or most blessed person? Those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Be encouraged by this assurance of pardon, beloved:
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.