Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sabbatical #26: Confessional Prayer (Path of Celtic Prayer #7)

It is likely something comes to mind when you hear “confession.” Miller says there are three ways to define it – confessing a creed, confessing personal sin, and confessions in the sense of a spiritual autobiography, like Augustine’s, for instance. At its most foundational level, confession is agreeing with God. This is where power for prayer is unleashed because it is evidence of a trusting step toward union with God.

We tend to be too much like our first parents who passed the buck when God came calling after their sin (see Genesis 3) rather than agreeing with God that we’ve done wrong. We’re quick to justify or slow to name our sin and own it. But when we do, we take down the barriers between us and God, it puts us in step with Him. And the goal of our prayer, and the source of our power in prayer is union with Christ.

Listen to Miller:

Here is where the eternal God in Christ drops his huge hand over the threshold of our sinfulness to hold hands with us. This is precisely what the incarnation was about. We want to be one with Christ, and this oneness is born in our willingness to live in agreement concerning our sin and his forgiveness (p. 142).

Miller gives a three part “pilgrimage” in confession. It starts with longing for God and then moves to agreeing that our sin is sin, agreeing with God in this fact. The final aspect of it is not some worm theology, but finding ourselves in abandoning ourselves to God and serving Him. This will bring us into a “dangerously close” relationship with God.

Miller offers several forms in this book, but notes that confession is the “hardest to formalize” (p. 155). Even so, he offers a template that might be helpful. Start by praying this prayer, and then use the following template as a tool (pp. 156-158).

I come to you Father, acknowledging my longing after you.
I come to you Son of the Father, acknowledging that my sin has met the cross.
I come to you Spirit, asking you to fill me so that I may keep my place of ministry in bringing the world to a full confession of its own.

To you, merciful Father, I pray, against you have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.
To you, merciful Son of the Father, I pray, wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
To you, merciful Spirit, I pray, create in me a pure heart.

Now believing in your cleansing and trusting in your mercy, I offer you this confession:

I, [YOUR NAME HERE], freely acknowledge my sin.

I take no credit for my redemption, yet I know it stands in place forever, as eternal as grace itself. Give ear to my desperate longing for you, O Father.

For this is how I feel my neediness, and express my longing:

I agree with you that I have sinned. I express what my sins have cost you and how in the past they have barred me from the fullest relationship I might have had with you.

I am seeking that perfect expression of your will for me in the world. Help me rediscover what every moment holds for me so that I can serve you in the exact manner you will equip me to serve. Here is the substance of my search:

Here is the story of how I first met you, how I first felt a longing for your love.

Here I rehearse my first feeling of brokenness for our years of separation and the joy of my homecoming.

As a final expression of my confession, I write out here in prayer my calling in the world. As far as I know here is what you have called me to do and when my service is to begin.

Father to you I give thanks for my purpose.
Son to you I give thanks for your cross and my redemption.
Spirit to you I give thanks for empowering my ministry in the world.

Amen, Father Almighty.
Amen, Son who saves.
Amen, Spirit who empowers.

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