Yesterday I led our church in a prayer of confession, and enough people asked me for it afterward that I figured I ought to type it up from my notes:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us — sinners all.
We confess that you are rarely what we most desire, though your desire for us led you to a cross atop Golgotha. We want cleaner homes, better clothes, spouses more attentive to our needs. We want children who will sit still in church, and hymns that suit our tastes. We want our pastors to speak to our needs, rather than lead us in worshipping you. We want the driver in front of us to go faster, and the one behind us to slow down. We want jobs we enjoy, and family who won’t ask us for money.
Sometimes we want more righteousness, or more personal purity, or a better prayer life. We seek religious virtue, Lord, but we do not seek your Cross. We are afraid of what you will ask of us should we seek that Cross, and so we make you smaller and tamer. We make you an intellectual puzzle, or an emotional experience. You are an all-consuming Fire, and we have turned you into a Bic lighter.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Forgive us that we approach your Holy Word like we already understand you.
Forgive us that we pray when it’s convenient, that we talk too much and listen too little.
Forgive us when we seek the company of those who please us, rather than those who need us.
Forgive us that we have sullied your name by attaching it to political ideologies and national pride.
Forgive us when we hold ourselves above our brothers and sisters because they are Baptists, or Catholics, or Orthodox; because they plan to vote for Obama; because their children are in public schools; because they do trick-or-treat or they don’t trick-or-treat or because they only pass out those butterscotch candies that nobody really likes.
Forgive us that we see unrighteousness everywhere but in our own mirrors.
Oh Lord, we are a country founded in rebellion, and we have fallen into grave sin. We have made greed a virtue. We have borrowed until there is no grain left in the storehouse, and now we throw the costs onto our children and grandchildren. We have cultivated a hyper-sexualized culture. We allow our children to reach their teens without knowing how to behave like men and women. We have sanctioned the murder of millions of unborn children.
Amidst all this, we have the gall to proclaim this God’s most favored nation. We boast, oh Lord, when we should tremble.
If you, oh Lord, would count our iniquities against us, who could stand? We are shot through with sin, as a nation, a city, a church, as individuals. But you are faithful where we are faithless, and you have promised that when we confess, and repent, and lay hold of your Cross, that you will cleanse us of all unrighteousness.
So we praise you, Lord. Thine, oh Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is Thine. Thine, oh Lord, is the kingdom, and Thou art exalted above all.
We praise you and we beg your mercy, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.