General Confession of Sin



As I spend time writing my book on sober-mindedness, I have been led along various side paths that have been good for my soul. One of those side paths came about as I reflected on sober-mindedness, Titus 2.11-12, and a prayer I have used thousands of times in morning prayer for confession of sin. This prayer is the General Confession of Sin in the Book of Common Prayer:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred,
and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have
followed too much the devices and desires of our own
hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have
left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to
have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord,
have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those,
O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who
are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto
mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful
Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a
godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy
Name. Amen.

Below are some of the biblical passages (KJV) that likely shaped this prayer, and I thought this would benefit others. The final petition reflects specifically the trivium of virtues mentioned in Titus 2.12; the virtues that flow from grace, and are taught by grace.

  • ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. (“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53.6)
  • We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. (“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward… And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.” Jeremiah 7.24 and 18.12)
  • We have offended against thy holy laws. (“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2.10)
  • We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; (“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4.17)
  • And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; (“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3.4)
  • And there is no health in us. (“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings… Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.” Jeremiah 17.9-10, 14)
[N.B. I like how the ACNA’s Book of Common Prayer-2019 restored this line to the general confession and amended it: “and apart from your grace, there is no health in us.”]
  • But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. (“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Revelation 3.17; Luke 18.13)
  • Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. (“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28.13)
  • Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. (“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin… If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1.7, 9)
  • And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen. (“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2.11-14)

Mike

Comments

YOUR BRIEF STUDY ON THE GENERAL CONFESSION IS EXCELLENT, MIKE.

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