Confession, defined as acknowledgment or disclosure of sin or sinfulness, is vital in a Christian’s prayer life.
We confess when we miss the mark of God’s holiness. 1 John 1:9 says that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
But why does this sometimes not seem to work? We confess and are we free? John isn’t just talking about acknowledgment of sin as confession. Confession as agreeing with God regarding our sinfulness and continuing to do the same thing is not the confession God commands. It implies repentance. It’s true repentance that breaks the chain of sin and sets us free. We are to do an about face, to turn away from sin and turn towards God.
Declared admission. Sometimes we don’t want to confess because we feel so bad about our sin. God feels worse. It is pride not to go to Him the umpteenth million time. We must humble ourselves each time. At the same time, it’s not enough to realize we’ve done wrong. Realizing our wrongs without confession leads to spiritual lethargy. When we are aware of sin but do nothing to rid ourselves of it, we are victimized and arrested by sin to inactivity and impotence.
Psalm 66:18 speaks of cherishing sin in your heart. It is one of the many reasons we have unanswered prayer. I’m not discussing how God answers prayer this week, but a lack of confession and repentance often means that God will not listen to our prayers. When we deliberately and knowingly choose sin over God, He does not listen when we pray.
Heartfelt recognition. We take it seriously. He doesn’t need to know, we do… Confession is a time when we ask God to show us what is wrong in our lives and agreeing with Him and placing it under His authority. Sincerity coupled with action and the intent to forsake that sin.
Confession was the primary activity done in the Holy of Holies because that is what required a high priest. Now Christ has become that and His presence is the Holy of Holies and you may enter it with confession on your own behalf as a priest and co-heir with Christ.
Confession properly done. Our effort is not actually confession unless we are sorrowful and have an emotion of regret, (we may not necessarily experience guilt though we usually do) We must agree with God about the sinfulness of the sin and its opposition to His character and person; we must turn from that sin and intend not to commit it again.
The results of unconfessed sin. Unconfessed sin dulls the conscience and extinguishes one’s desire to pursue God. Sin causes spiritual insensitivity, then indifference and leads to blatant apathy. God won’t powerfully use a dirty vessel. He doesn’t need a beautiful one, but He won’t use a dirty one. Isaiah, Daniel and Job were used mightily after confession. (But we don’t use this as a license– David confessed his sin with Bathsheba and of murder, but never was used as much. Some offenses’ consequences are so great that they cannot ever be fully overcome– here on earth.)
Confession in prayer leads to confidence in prayer.