Day 4: Confession - Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools

Day 4: Confession

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” Psalm 139:1

Believing in the existence of God has never really been the hang-up for us humans. Across cultures and eras, the existence of something bigger than us has always been the popular opinion.

The hang-up is, and has always been, trusting the God we believe exists.

That’s why trust—or a lack thereof—is at the heart of the Genesis creation story. Pretty early on in the story, Adam and Eve started to suspect that God was holding out on them. They plucked the forbidden fruit in an attempt to get to a full, abundant, happy life apart from God. They trusted themselves, not the God they believed in.

And that is what the Bible calls sin. Sin is shorthand for any attempt to meet our deep needs by our own resources.

It is not an accusation or a condemnation; it’s just a diagnosis. It’s a trip to the doctor’s office where you describe your symptoms and discover that “there’s a name for this disease.” And fortunately for us all, there is a doctor on standby ready to offer healing.

Confession is how we turn to Jesus, look him in the eye, and take him up on his power to heal. In this, again, David is our role model. “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me,” he wrote in Psalm 139. David openly invited the Spirit of God to search him, to dig through his interior life and uncover any sin he found there. He even celebrated it.

When we keep our deepest needs and secrets hidden, we are essentially saying, “Jesus’ victory is not enough. It’s not enough for me. Not enough for this. I just need more time. I can sort this out on my own.” How do we combat that sinful narrative? Confession. We let David’s words inspire our words. We take David’s ancient prayers as the script for our current ones. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single one of his prayers that didn’t involve undressing himself before God.

Confession is a terrifying gift, which sounds like a contradiction because it is. We say we believe in grace, but it is terrifying to actually trust that grace will be God’s response to our sin. Yet somehow, through confession, the very parts of our stories we most want to edit, or erase altogether, become the very parts of our stories we’d never take back and never stop telling. Terrifying, yes, but what a gift…

To Practice: Pray confession in three simple movements: Searching, Naming, and Receiving. First, like David, invite God to search your heart. Next, name whatever you recognize in yourself, big or small, that is out of alignment with his character. Finally, receive his forgiveness, which always outruns your failure and mine.

From the Book: