A Confession for the Modern Conservative Christian

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.


  1. Marc V

    Wow – that prayer was long enough for some heads to “nod off” while bowed. I’m curious to hear if the reaction was positive or not, particularly from your Pastor (and if he’ll let you do another prayer of confession). I especially liked the praise in italics near the end. We sometimes forget to offer praise when we pray, yet Jesus modeled it for us in “The Lord’s Prayer”.

    If you like listening to contemporary praise music (for lack of a better term), Darrell Evan’s last CD, “Consuming Fire”, came to mind while reading your post. Thank God for churches that would allow this type of prayer to be heard!

  2. Pingback: True Confessions « After The Handbasket


    Well said, or prayed. I thought it was only us Catholics who were self righteous. It seems that maybe all of the Christian denominations are the same, rightly or pathetically.

  4. Kevin Cassidy

    @Marc V – From personal experience, Tony’s prayers electrify rather than tranquilize. And I know the congregation always want more! 🙂

    Thanks, Tony, for putting up a bit of HCC home for those of us who have moved away.

  5. Ilíon

    I’m sorry … when I read corporativist “we” stuff like this, I tend to think it neither particulary profound nor particulary conservative.

    But then, once I hit the corporativist “we” collective guilt-trip stuff — which to me always comes across as the drag version of the Pharasee-praying-in-the-Temple — I rarely have the patience to finish the sentence, much less the whole thing.

  6. Lynnette Kraft

    Yeah, that pretty much says it ALL! No wonder Jesus told us about the Pharisees…it sure is easy to be one. We had a writing project (In Other Words) http://writingcanvas.wordpress.com/ where we discussed things very similiar to this. It was an eye opening session – a real examining of the heart. It is a sad world we live in, but since we can’t fix the world, we should start with ourselves, huh?
    Thanks for sharing this.

    The Wegener’s have shared your blog with me and I can see why they did. It’s great.
    Lynnette Kraft

  7. Frank

    Thank God we’ll all be voting for Obama.

    I’ll be glad when we can start truly doing Jesus’ work in America as well.

  8. thatgirl

    As I understand the process, when standing in front of the church and leading a corporate (church-wide) prayer of confession one is neither to confess one’s own sins corporately (to the entire church body) or to confess the sins of another – lacking personal introspection. Rather, the goal is to lead the corporate body (everyone in the room) in confessing the obvious, and not so obvious, sins of their hearts to the Lord.

    Harry and Ilion,
    Why would you assume that the leader of the prayer was not personally convicted of the things confessed, or that others were not thankful to be brought to a place where they might consider (and thus confess) from a different perspective, metaphorically if not literally, those sinful things that many of us easily do?

    Perhaps you would be willing to consider that your reading, and thus understanding, is done with a filter that denies the sincerity and truth of the confessional prayer you just read. It is the case that we Christians can see and be disgusted with our own hypocrisy.

    In fact, most of us are at some point the Pharisee -in-the-temple, or the first two travelers that pass the left-for-dead-fellow in the ditch, or the brother of the prodigal son… That is the point of the prayer of confession, that we remind ourselves, in the presence of others, and truthfully before God, that we are all alike in our commonality with the people in those stories Christ told. So, if I am truly a follower of Christ (one who desires wholeheartedly to be more like Him), then more often than not, my heart is turned to how the words of the leader of the prayer of confession are true about ME, not you. And yes, because I am NOT perfect as He is perfect, on occasion I become that Pharisee again…and have to confess it and repent again.

    I’d like to better understand your concern. How does one carry out a prayer of confession in your church? How is it different, such that it does not come across as sticking it to the other Christians, or as more personal and less corporate?

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