Prayers of Confession/Prayers of who we are

Prayers of confession may be framed as ‘the prayers of who we are’ (Dorothy McRae-McMahon) rather than the liturgist listing all the ‘failures’ that people might ‘confess’. Allow people to have silence, in which they may know themselves as beloved and have the courage to face who they are and to see themselves as God sees them. Provide an introduction (see example below), followed by silence, followed by words of assurance.

‘Prayer is an act of openness. When we pray, we participate in the ultimate practice of humanness as we yield to a Power greater than ourselves. Our best prayers engage in candor about our lives, practice vulnerability, run risks, and rest in confident trust’.
(Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People)

Scriptural links for prayers of confession/words of assurance here.

This thoughtful reflection, I am a person of profound privilege, by John Pavolvitz, could easily be adapted (giving credit to the original source) as a thoughtful ‘prayers of who we are’, adapting it as need be (and adjusting the political/cultural context – John writes in the context of the USA and MAGA). It could also be used on particular days (Day of Mourning/Aboriginal Sunday, Sorry Day, Migrant and Refugee Sunday etc). Scroll down for full text at end of this page or click on the link.

(Words that might be incorporated into a reflective prayer)
Keep my anger from becoming meanness
Keep my sorrow from becoming self-pity
Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking
Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.
Remind me that all of this, every bit of it, is for love.
Keep me fiercely kind.
(not sure of the source – it was on a Facebook post)

The one fully engaged in life
Forgive us for our ‘whatever’ attitude.
Forgive our nonchalance in the face of your call.
Forgive the indifference we show in regards to the suffering and life needs of others.
Forgive our apathy to join wholeheartedly in your work for justice and the common good.
Forgive our hesitancy in giving more of ourselves in loving service to people who need it from us.
Forgive our fear of really following you which we mask with false confidence in doctrine and surface spirituality.
Forgive our attempts to defer guilt from not truly living out your way through Sunday religion and weekly religiosity.
A silence is kept
Awaken real faith in us again.
Startle us anew with the power of your love.
Engage us once again your work of love and grace.
Call us back to the transformative power of loving service and faithful witness to you,
That we might know that you are in our lives, and the lives of all people,
Working for good no matter whatever we do.
But calling us to do whatever we can to work with you
To do whatever is needed for the good of all
Whatever the cost.
Whatever can be,
We pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Transforming Worship Facebook page, Uniting Church in Australia)

I sometimes forget
that I was created for Joy.
My mind is too busy.
My Heart is too heavy
for me to remember
that I have been
called to dance
the Sacred dance of life.
I was created to smile
To Love
To be lifted up
And to lift others up.
O’ Sacred One
Untangle my feet
from all that ensnares.
Free my soul.
That we might
and that our dancing
might be contagious.

Words after the prayer of confession that could be used, after  time of quiet contemplation:
May I dig deeper, into the purposes of God, into the ways of God,
Into the places that need healing,
Into the relationships that need strengthening,
May I dig deeper,
into the roots of my being,
into the place where God dwells,
into the place where wholeness resides.
(Source: Christine Sine, Godspacelight)

Sunday Prayers (published 20th Sept 2020 by Nadia Bolz-Weber)
God of all beings,
A lot of us feel less safe than we did a few days ago and a few days ago we weren’t feeling that secure to begin with. Help us draw upon you, our Divine Source, when what we have just isn’t enough to get through the day.
A lot of us are grieving. Actually, all of us are grieving: lost friends, lost kin, lost homes, lost income, lost connection to others, lost health. Help us not also lose hope. We can lose a lot and still survive, but not that.
A lot of us are so angry. Angry that our inherent worth and dignity seems up for debate by those who have never had their worth and dignity questioned in courts of law. Angry that love of power seems to trump love of neighbor. Repurpose our anger into righteous action, Lord.
(Personal note: My fear is turning to anger and I am afraid that my anger can turn so easily to hate and hate is the thing I say I am against. Turn me away from hate. My heart can’t take that kind of brittleness because I need it to give and to receive love. Remind me that my heart is spoken for.)
A lot of us are ashamed of how numb we feel, but honestly we’ve run out of emotional bandwidth and the system needs to re-boot before it comes back on-line. Give us rest and self-compassion.
A lot of us are joyous and feel like we have to shield that joy from others, lest it seem like we are callous toward those who are hurting. Help us see and celebrate what good there is in our lives and the lives of those around us.
I don’t think you created us to be able to metabolize such a constant stream of bad news everyday, Lord. But I do know that you created us to metabolize cookies. And for that I give you thanks and praise. They are helping. But they are not enough.
So if you could show the hell up right now, that would be great. And if you are already showing up, give us new eyes to notice you.
(Source: Nadia Bolz-Weber, on Sunday Prayers)

Beyond the Boundaries of My Failure
(Catching words and phrases from an Erwin McMannus talk)
Christ, Lover of our struggles,
Embodiment of care and compassion.
Help me step up to the threshold of my hurt, disappointment, guilt or pain.
May it be the boundary of my growth into betterment,
That when I step into it I might discover strength and support in faith,
A gift for myself, from you and from others.
May my future be on the other side of my failure.
May failure simply enhance the story of my life,
Bringing an epic plot twist
And adding to the narrative of my growth and development.
May my faith not make things easier,
But resource me in the struggle and suffering which comes.
May I not seek greater comfort ,
But, rather, may my faith make me stronger in the midst of my struggles.
Ambitiously I pray. Amen.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Facebook post, October 2019)

in the stopping, in the pausing, in the quiet,
we cannot avoid what we are not:
Our faults, our lack of faith,
our lack of vision and of action,
our lack of trust – all bubble to the surface.
You, Loving God, see who we are
and still stand by us – offering us hope
and above all, forgiveness.  A silence is kept
Friends, receive God’s forgiveness.
May God’s love set you free this day and always. Amen. 

It Just Is Not Justice
People are crying
I dry my eyes
People are dying
I don’t hear their cries
People are my neighbour
I see them as stranger or threat to my comfort and choose not love
People are starving
I go to the kitchen for a snack
People are oppressed
I feel trapped in my routine
People cry out for justice
I complain that I can’t find anything to do
People are so unwell
I am sick of so many trivial things
People are refugees
I covet a better house
People are in poverty
I waste my money
People don’t have enough
I still want more
Hear my prayers
That I might listen to myself
Discover my confession
And find my repentance
So that I might actually change
To help the world do the same. Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

Shining Empowerment
Empowering God,
You empower us to be our better selves.
You help us to understand how much we are loved.
You see in us our potential for good,
You give us gifts and strengths, which we can develop and grow.
Help us to see ourselves and each other in the way you do.
Empower us to be confident in the gifts which you give us,
Such as your grace, and the ability to share love.
Empower us to learn about ourselves, each other and the world.
Empower us as Spirit to cope when we face struggles.
Empower us to flourish, even in difficult and hard times
Empower us to help and serve others.
Empower us to work for good in all people and all the world.
Empower us to have the grit and determination to strive always towards better things.
Empower us to empower others, so that all might share in your love
This we are empowered to pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

As challenge and hardship breaks open the facade
of my comfortable life,
As the unforeseen dissolves the illusion of my vision
of how things should be,
As that which is shocking awakens me to the truth
of how little ultimate control I have.
As the certainty of uncertainty dissolves my self-delusion,
As my perception of myself is shaken by the perceptions of others,
May I come to you in faith,
Not for rescue from circumstance,
But for strength to endure,
And the guidance to persevere,
That I might come to know peace,
The peace that passes all understanding
Which is found in you as the Christ.
This I plead and pray.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that Unite)

India Arie “I Am Light”
I am light, I am light [x4]

I am not the things my family did
I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside
I am light, I am light [x4]

I’m not the mistakes that I have made or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind

I am light, I am light [x4]

I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race, my soul inside is all light

All light, all light [x2]
I am light, I am light [x2]

I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light

Listening God, sometimes we pray confidently, trusting in your love. Sometimes we approach you fearfully, conscious of our own failure. Sometimes we are reluctant to pray, evading your call to us. Sometimes our prayer is a snatched moment in the hassle of activity. But always you hear us. And so we have confidence in your company, to know ourselves as you know us, and to bring our confessions. A time of silence is kept.
(incorporating a prayer from InsideOut, Feb 2009, Issue 53, Council for World Mission)

Prayer of Confession
We own our humanness, O God.
We know that there have been many moments
when we have failed to be true
to the hope of the reign of God
and the unity we know is found in you.
We have not always received
the gifts which lie within our differing human journeys
or in the insights which we could share.
We have been tempted
by the power and realities of our own stories
rather than the wonder of new life with each other.
Forgive us, loving God,
and call us on to truly walk with you.
This we pray in hope and faith. Amen.
Words of forgiveness
God, in Christ Jesus, holds us in love
and will lead us into a new journey together
and a future filled with hope.
We are forgiven!
Thanks be to God.
(Source: Dorothy McRae-McMahon)

Litany of Repentance and confession
God of love, we confess that we are in bondage to a view of the world that puts our compromise before your justice; that is unable to name the worth and wonder of all your children; that places people in positions that threaten the very soul of who they are-the soul that you see as unique and glorious. We confess that, all too often, we are unwilling to tell the truth of the ways in which even those who call upon your name do so for the sake of harm. We ask for your forgiveness. We pray for wholeness. We trust in the promise of your hope. Grant us, we pray, the courage to speak, the power to empower, the mercy to love. Amen.
(Source: Gender Inclusivity, Changing Laws, Changing Hearts by Karoline M. Lewis, author & Eliza Buchakjian-Tweedy, pastor, writer – from A Child Laughs P.8)

Nothing is lost
(this would be beautiful to read in a reflective service, followed by silence for contemplation, and possibly a song like ‘Come and find the quiet centre‘ – lyrics here).
All through your life, the most precious experiences seem to vanish. Transience turns everything to air. You look behind and see no sign even of a yesterday that was so intense. Yet in truth, nothing ever disappears, nothing is lost. Everything that happens to us in the world passes into us. It all becomes part of the inner temple of the soul and it can never be lost. This is the art of the soul: to harvest your deeper life from all the seasons of your experience. This is probably why the soul never surfaces fully. The intimacy and tenderness of its light would blind us. We continue in our days to wander between the shadowing and the brightening, while all the time a more subtle brightness sustains us. If we could but realize the sureness around us, we would be much more courageous in our lives. The frames of anxiety that keep us caged would dissolve. We would live the life we love and in that way, day by day, free our future from the weight of regret.
(Source: John O’Donohue, Excerpt from ‘Beauty’)

Contemplative Prayer
Lord, I know not what to ask of You.
You alone know what my true needs are.
You love me more than I myself know how to love.
Help me to see my real needs, which may be hidden from me.
I dare not ask for either a cross or a consolation.
I can only wait upon You; my heart is open to You.
Visit and help me in Your steadfast love.
Strike me and heal me; cast me down and raise me up.
I worship in silence Your holy will.
I offer myself to You as a living sacrifice.
I put all my trust in You.
I have no other desire than to fulfill Your will.
Teach me to pray. Pray Yourself in me. Amen.
(Source: A Prayer of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow – a Russian Orthodox Priest)

Arrange to have four people stand in the four corners of the worship space. The readers will take turns saying one of the words from each of the lists of words of contemplation below. Follow each word with ample silence. Explain that rather than speaking a prayer with prescribed sentences and thoughts, we will hear single words. Invite those gathered to be attentive to the thoughts and feelings that arise with each word and allow these responses to guide a silent prayer of confession.
Words for contemplation
distance, separation, division, brokenhearted;
(give ample pause between each word)
harm, neglect, pollution, extinction;
(give ample pause between each word)
disregard, ignore, injustice, impoverish.
(give ample pause between each word)
Words of affirmation
Have the four people who read the words for the prayer of confession continue reading the words below slowly, but without the extended space for silent prayer.
Hear now these life-giving words:
receive, welcome, reconcile, enfold;
restore, conserve, beautify, care;
attend, share, compassion, love;
forgiven, forgiven, forgiven, forgiven.
May these words take root within us and become the living reality among and through us.
(Source: online sample from SeasonsFUSION)

Some folks are sure there’s no God there –
the one, of course, who never was.
Abandon proof of what you know to be imaginary.

Instead: Have you ever known love?
Have you ever felt the wash of a stream
flowing through you from the impossible?

Have you felt a surge of self-giving
not of your own making,
toward a neighbor, a lover, a child?

Has water ever flowed unexpectedly?
Have you ever followed a silent Voice,
from a dry rock drunk deeply?

Don’t argue over someone else’s fantasy.
Believe, not in the treasure in someone else’s field
but the gem you stumble on in your own.

What mystery allures, believe in that.
What deep root sustains, believe in that.
What births love in this world, believe in that.

You may doubt you have been provided for –
but are you here? Are you breathing? Are you –
your hands, your thoughts – not a work of wonder?

Ignore the idea that has nothing to do with you.
Turn to the One who draws you into wondering,
who gives you this thirst, who is this asking.

A time for silent reflection

Drink plenty from this deep-welled strangeness.
Throw your life into the fire of love
and whatever catches fire, follow that,
and believe in the fire.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes,Unfolding Light)

A poem for thoughtful reflection: Sweet darkness
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.
It’s time to go into the night
where the dark has eyes
to recognize its own.
It’s time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognise its own.
There you can be sure you are not beyond love.
The dark will make a home for you tonight.
The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.
You must learn one thing. You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong. Sometimes it takes darkness
and the sweet confinement of your aloneness
to learn anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
(Source: David Whyte, River Flow and The House of Belonging)

The word of Love is perfect, reviving the soul
the wisdom of God is solid, enlightening those who are open. …
But who can see themselves clearly enough?
Save me from my own hidden faults.
Don’t let me be insulting; don’t let nastiness come over me. …
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19.7, 12-13, 14)
God of love, may I think and speak
in harmony with your graciousness.
May I speak only what is truthful and loving,
what is born of your grace in me.
May I speak with compassion and humility
in blessing, not cursing,
in reverence, not pride.
Give me wisdom to see myself honestly,
to know my own faults,
to see your light in me and all that hides it,
and the same in others as well.
Keep me from blaming born of a fearful ego,
but let me speak your encouragement and truth.
May the words I speak and the thoughts I harbor
reflect your tender compassion,
your forgiveness of me and all people,
O God, my truth and my love.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Prayers of who we are: We Are Holy and Blameless
Holy God
We are holy,
Not in the sense of any rightness within us,
But because we are in a relationship of rightness,
In connection with you,
Set in meaning and purpose,
Enfolded in love and grace,
For you hold us in special significance.
We are holy because you gift that it is so.
We are not called into a division of us and them,
Nor an in and out of righteous and unrighteous.
People should see you in us,
Just as we should see ourselves in each other.
Our holiness should not set ourselves apart from others,
But bring others into connection with you,
For that is what it means to disciple others,
That is to turn our minds to you,
And how we are to you. A silence is kept. 

Holy God,
We are blameless,
Not excused from our wrong or failings
But not held to blame,
Held without blame,
Enfolded in love and grace.
For blame relates to blasphemy,
That is out of sync with who you are,
A standing outside your will, purpose and way.
We are blameless,
For you look at us in love,
Seeing us as your own,
Overlooking our frailties, flaws and failures,
Focusing on the who you know we can be and may be. A silence is kept. 

Holy God,
We are holy and blameless,
Enfolded in love and grace,
Set in meaning and purpose
In connection with you,
That we might hold others,
and be a conduit for such connection with you.
So may it be. Amen
(Source: Rev Jon Humphries)

Forgive My Trespasses
God of all sides,
I have trespassed,
I have crossed to where I should not go,
I have transgressed boundaries and rules,
I have overstepped to where I thought the grass was greener.
I have stepped over the line you have drawn in the sand.
Forgive me as you forgive the trespasses of others,
May I forgive others as you forgive the trespasses of me.
Lead me back to your pastures,
Teaching me humility and grace on the way.
This I return to you in prayer,
In your Christ.  Amen .
(Source: Jon Humphries)

Unto whom all hearts are open
‘Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open….’
We rush to the next phrase, but now we linger there.
We ponder our hearts…
our deepest feelings of love and devotion,
our closest organ of vitality,
our place of deep decision-making,
our instrument of being fully ourselves.

Our hearts – that throb for contact with you –
our hearts are always open.
They are not always open by our choice,
for we would like sometimes to
close our hearts and our minds and our hands.
But they are open, because
our hearts cannot resist
your steady care and address.
Our hearts are open for you, very God.
You are the one who has made us
so that our hearts are restless
till they find rest in you. (a time for silent reflection)

Do your mysterious, majestic God-ing with our hearts:
that we may leave your presence
become by your attentiveness whom we
have not yet embraced,
open and receptive,
honest and undefensive,
unafraid and committed to obedience.

Let the pulse of our heart throb now,
according to the cadences of your rule;
command and we will obey,
overrule and we will yield,
lead and we will walk
where we never thought to go.

Unto you…
not unto each other,
not unto our pet projects,
not unto our favourite charity or passion.
Unto you… our hearts are open;
we are yours; be your God – yet again.
(Source: Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People)

Good in Us
Good God,
Despite the shadow in our souls,
And the evil that we do,
There is much good in us,
For you sowed the seeds of such into our being.
There is much to find hope and joy within the human spirit.
For a people being playful, whatever their age,
For the joy of holding hands,
For smiles from strangers,
For friendship and comradery,
For connection and enrichment,
For compassion and understanding,
For story and meaning,
For creativity and ingenuity,
For moments of kindness given and shared.
For the caring act of someone who stops to help another in need.
For great philanthropy and acts of altruism,
And for small acts of benevolence,
For all who give of themselves to make the world a better place.
For the hope-bringers,
For the care-givers,
For the peacemakers,
For the love-livers,
For all that is good and worthy.
Let us look beyond the sad and lamentable,
The dark and depressing,
The negative and deflating,
And in your vision of who we can be,
Find our better selves,
Just as you set before us in Christ.
Thus, we pray. Amen.
(Source: Jon Humphries)

All desires are known
‘Almighty God, unto whom…all desires are known’.
We rush to the next phrase, but now linger there.
We are creatures inhabited by many desires.
When we hear the word ‘desire’ we first of all think of sex,
and we are propelled by such sexuality
that you have called good but that we fear and distort.
But some of us are shrivelled in sexuality
and can scarcely remember desire.

But the word ‘desire’ reaches deep and wide:
Some of us have traded off sex for money
and we can never have enough;
Some of us are so anxious and we desire
most of all control – to have control, to be in control;
Some of us are so full of hate and resentment,
that we desire most of all to see our enemies overwhelmed:
an old sibling threat,
an alienated lover,
a rival, a competitor,
an Arab, a Jew, a Communist, a gay person.

We spend our energy managing our desires,
waiting on them, investing in them, keeping them hidden.
But you know, and you know by your presence how to change our desires,
because in your presence,
our desires lose their power
as we receive again your look of love,
your powerful embrace,
your steady summons,
and then we know our desires
are all too self-indulgent,
interrupted by the precious psalmist,
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And here is nothing on heart that
I desire other than you”.  (A time for silent reflection)

You have made us to desire only you,
you, our beginning and our end,
you, our food and our rest,
you, our joy and our peace.

Turn us from our desires that obsess us.
Unburden us that we may know
our true desire and end in communion with you,
you, who desire us as companion and lover.
(Source: Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People).

Words of assurance: To come home to myself
May all that is unforgiven in you,
Be released.

May your fears yield
Their deepest tranquilities.

May all that is unlived in you,
Blossom into a future,
Graced with love.
(Source: John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space between us) 

None of us have grown up free of the textures of our childhoods. No child get to adulthood free to live the full spectrum of life into which they were born.
Under the circumstance of moonlight,
red disappears first.
Yellow is gone.
And green turns to shades of grey
or ripples into a black no conifer has ever been.
I know it’s green.
I know the birdhouse
swinging from its branch is red.
I know the finches gathered early at the feeder
are yellow,
dulled as they are in winter’s plumes.
As I gaze upon a changed
and blue-lit world,
I hold these truths within me.

So why is it I cannot hold to other truths
that time to time are hidden, too,
by circumstances
that cast them in this same and changing light,
flattening the spectrum
from multihued and wondrous
to a cold and hard insistent blue?
Why can I not see beauty still
in hearts grown cold,
or dreams that withered long ago?
Why am I so quick to see the depth of anger
in this circumstantial light
and not the love that spoke just yesterday
or the invitation that might take me back to wonder?
Why do I insist the moonlight prism,
that robs him and her and her and him
of the miracle of childish wonder,
of youth and hope and “wants-to-be”,
is the truth that stands before me?

We were all wonder once,
riding the chariots of our fathers’ arms by day;
braving the night,
safe ‘twixt the castles of our mothers’ breasts.
We cast the trees as our companions
and bade them witness our grandest schemes.
We yearned for affirmation.
It bent and teased our being toward its singular hue,
the kaleidoscopes that once defined us
bleeding out
‘til all is lit like moonlight,
and its cold, and hard insistent blue.

Don’t forget.
Don’t forget.
(Source: Gretta Vosper 2017)

“I Will Talk To My Heart” (Tune: ‘Stillness’, Barry Brinson) 69 HoS
(the words may also be spoken to frame prayers of confession)
I will talk to my heart in the stillness,
I will talk to my heart when I pray,
I will let go of all my resentment
till compassion is my inner Way.
Trust the stillness,
trust the oneness,
trust the Way on inner prayer;
trust the stillness
trust the oneness,
trust the life of God we share.

I will watch all my thoughts in the stillness
I will watch all my thoughts when I pray,
I will watch all the stream of my thinking
till compassion is my inner Way.

I will dwell in the space of my oneness,
I will dwell in that space when I pray,
I will let go of all my divisions
till compassion is my inner Way.

(Words: William L Wallace)

A poem by Kevin Hart (Australian poet): “To Christ Our Lord”
My only friend whose face I could not recognise in a crowd,
Whose voice would not make me turn.
Forgive me for thinking such things important,
For trusting in only what I can touch.
How often I tell myself you are not real,
And how often I see you more real than the houses, trees and people that pass and leave me nothing.
When I am left alone in the cool of the evening,
you comfort me .
When I think of all the dead beneath, you open your hand and show them a star is beginning to rise.
How can I speak of you, you without whom there could be no world?
You who saw the first beam of sunlight cling to the world.
Why must silence be so much a part of us,
with you hiding behind a mountain, resting on the other side of the desert
Watching you as I come towards you As I slowly learn about your ways,
about the world that is always between us.
And why I cannot remain the way I am. © Kevin Hart
A silence is kept, followed by Words of Assurance.

So who is it?
Am I to blame?
Some oversight, neglect, turning away of my head?
Or perhaps the turning away
was of my heart?
Was it some slight I do not remember perpetrating,
its details lost in the long-forgotten debris
of distasteful memory,
sealed far away from daily discourse or rumination?

Is it them?
The expectations and demands laid upon me as a child,
sewn into the garment of “Who I would become”
even as I was first becoming?
Did they slough off their own personal demons,
transferring the weight to my fragile frame,
watching the shadows work their way
into my being,
their strengths,
their weaknesses,
their hungers?

Is it us?
Are we complicit in the weaving of today
as we were yesterday?
Can our hands move away from the shuttles
that will weave all the tomorrows yet to come?
Is there any way to step aside,
refuse to play,
leave our sorrows and, yes, too, our joys
out of what will be
so it might emerge
unencumbered by who we are?
Or are we only and ever inextricably bound
to the blame
tomorrow will lay upon us
never freed from what will be?
(Source: Gretta Vosper 2017)

A Prayer of Confession
God of mercy and grace,
In this time we pray.
We are good people.
We try to do the right thing.
However, if we think deeply on our lives and connections,
We see that we fall short of being the best that we can be a lot of the time.
We seek to love others,
but at times get caught up in our own problems and issues
We seek to love ourselves,
but at times get caught up in other’s problems and issues.
We seek to be caring,
but at times we end up caring more about ourselves
rather than the deep needs of others
Help up to find forgiveness,
for things that we have done that need forgiveness for which others have been left hurt or disillusioned
Help us to find forgiveness,
for things that we have failed to do or which have gone undone, and for which others have been left in need or uncared for.
Help us to find forgiveness
for things that others have done or failed to do for us, and for which we have been left wounded or disappointed.
God of love and forgiveness,
God of love compassion and redemption
May we find all good things that undo that which is bad
May all share them in this world
So we may each be transformed
and that the world might be transformed with us and through us as we live your love.
This is asked in the name of the Christ, who embodied all these things in his life shared with us. Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries)

Prayer of Confession:
God of Justice and Mercy, we know that we have fallen silent when we should have spoken up. We have ignored the cries of the innocent and joined the crowds in calls of judgment. We have mistaken justice for revenge and have sought punishment to ease our pain. Forgive us, God, for not seeing our own faults, our own sins, and for not holding ourselves responsible for our inaction and injustice. Restore us, God, to the ways Jesus taught us, to drop our stones and instead seek forgiveness and restoration. Call us into the paths of love and reconciliation, knowing Your mercy extends to all of us, Your grace is a gift, and there is nothing we can do to deserve or earn it. Guide us into living into Your forgiveness, peace and reconciliation, in the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:
God has opened our ears and our hearts to know God’s love and forgiveness. There is nothing we need to do other than love one another and love God, for all things come from God’s love. Go forth knowing You have been forgiven and You are restored to God. Live in the way of Christ. Amen.
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell,

Leslie Brandt paraphrases Psalm 131 as…
“O God, I have failed because I expected too much of myself.
I have fallen because I focused too much on my own success
and reckoned too little with my humanity.
It is time that I still my restless heart and quiet my overambitious spirit. It is far better that I centre my aspirations on God and His will for my life.”

This prayer of confession (used for Pentecost 23C, Luke 18: 9-14)
Lord, spare me from the comfort that would sedate me,
from the certainty that would dull me,
from the beauty that would blind me to injustice,
from the peace that would hide the world’s grief from me,
from the security that would frighten me from the edge of you.
Grant me the blessing to be unfinished, discomforted, unknowing,
to be homesick in this world for the one within it,
to ache for your little ones,
to grieve with the Beloved,
to be powerless for your grace,
to empty myself into your heart.
Lord, spare me from my wishes, that I may be free for you.
Spare me from my little self, that I may be my divine self.
Spare me from my life, that, dying, I may become yours. Amen.
(Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)
Words of Assurance
Friends, Christ calls us to be community together. Everyone has worth, and we are called to protect and uphold the dignity of all, to suspend judgement and to offer welcome, to suspend criticism and to offer hospitality, that with our open arms and open hearts, and expressions of generosity and hospitality, we may enable others to find the freedom to flourish, to live life in all its fulness, and to be all that we have been created to be. Let us therefore join together, woven together as one by Christ’s spirit of compassion, love, hope and generosity.

Words for a sung confession: God of Forgiveness
Words: William Wallace; Tune: Slane

Your Spirit brings freedom
Your Spirit brings freedom,
and so often our lives
are weighed down
by burdens we carry within us.
Forgive us, Lord, we pray.

Your Spirit brings peace,
and so often our lives
are ill at ease,
concerned by what the day will bring us.
Forgive us, Lord, we pray.

Your Spirit brings wisdom
yet we find it so hard
to recognise
your gentle whisper speaking to us.
Forgive us, Lord, we pray.

May we know the power
that breaks these chains that bind
our hearts and souls,
and grace to live the life you give.
Renew us, Lord, we pray.
©John Birch, from “The Act of Prayer”


God of extravagant love, we acknowledge that your beauty and your presence is not always lived out in our lives.
Forgive us for what we have done which has not honoured you…
For words spoken in anger, wrong priorities, poor attitudes
and deeds that deny or ignore your life transforming love.
Forgive us for what we have failed to do…
Lost opportunities, silence when we should have spoken,
love withheld or forgiveness refused.
Loving God, the Scriptures record the words of the Prophet Isaiah
“do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”
(Source: Frontier Services Sunday 2013)

Life-giving Wind, blow through our souls today!
Show us where we have dug in our heels and refused to grow.
Teach us that we have nothing to fear from change – that Christ’s only power is love,
and that this love, without any weapons, is stronger than death itself.
Source of All that is Good, we offer our silent prayers of confession…….
(Jack Lohr, adapted)

We confess to you, Lord, what we are:
we are not the people we like others to think we are;
we are afraid to admit even to ourselves what lies in the depths of our souls.
But we do not want to hide our true selves from you.
We believe that you know us as we are, and yet you still love us.
Help us not to shrink from self-knowledge;
teach us to respect ourselves for your sake;
give us the courage to put our trust in your guiding power.
Raise us out of the paralysis of guilt and fear
and take us into the freedom and energy of forgiven people.
And for those who through long habit find forgiveness hard to accept,
we ask that you would break their bondage and set them free.
Through Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.


God of love,
we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed:
we have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
But you have kept faith with us.
Have mercy on us; strip us of all that is not worthy;
and help us to live up to our calling;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen


Merciful God,
we confess to you now that we have sinned.
We confess the sins that no one knows
and the sins that everyone knows.
We confess the sins that are a burden to us
and the sins that do not bother us
because we have grown used to them.
We confess our sins as a church.
We have not loved one another as Christ loved us.
We have not forgiven one another as we have been forgiven.
We have not given ourselves in love and service for the world
as Christ gave himself for us.
Forgive us, O God.
Send the Holy Spirit to us,
That the Spirit may give us power to live as by your mercy, you have called us to live.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Gracious God, please forgive our sins,
and set us free from them.

We confess to the sin of pride:
We have been sure of our own goodness and importance
and have looked down on others.
Help us to appreciate the true worth of other people.

We confess to the sin of envy:
We have been displeased when others have been more successful
or sought after than we have been.
Help us to be glad when others prosper.

We confess to the sin of self-indulgence:
We have had enough and more.
Yet we have neglected the needs of others.
Help us to deny ourselves so that others may not be in want.

We confess to the sin of anxiety:
We have worried about many things.
Help us to trust you to see us through.

We confess to the sin of laziness:
We have been lukewarm Christians.
Make us eager to do your will.

We confess to you our sins
and we ask for your forgiveness.
In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.


God of grace and mercy,
you love us, but we have not always loved you.
You call, but we have not always listened.
We know the times we walk away from neighbors in need,
wrapped in our own concerns.
We condone – by our inaction and inattention – evil, prejudice, warfare, and greed.
God of grace, help us to admit our sin,
so that as you come to us in mercy,
we may repent, turn to you, and receive forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.


Merciful God,
in your gracious presence
we confess our sin and the sin of this world.
Although Christ is among us as our peace,
we are a people divided against ourselves
as we cling to the values of a broken world.
The profit and pleasures we pursue
lay waste the land and pollute the seas.
The fears and jealousies that we harbor
set neighbor against neighbor
and nation against nation.
We abuse your good gifts of imagination and freedom,
of intellect and reason,
and have turned them into bonds of oppression.
Lord, have mercy upon us;
heal and forgive us.
Set us free to serve you in the world
as agents of your reconciling love in Jesus Christ. Amen.


Merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength.
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been,
help us amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be,
so that we may delight in your will
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your holy name. Amen.


Prayer of confession
You create us and accept us as we are, O God:
in the times when we have failed
in our relationship with you and with each other;
in the times when we have passively accepted
injustice done to others;
in the times when we have enjoyed your creativity around us,
but have been afraid to ask for our own healing.

Life-giving Trinity, raise us from our pain and brokenness;
touch us, heal us and strengthen us,
so that we may live in the wholeness you desire;
to the glory of your name. Amen.

For use in worship, with acknowledgement. © Jeff Shrowder 2000, 2012.

Merciful God,
you pardon all who truly repent and turn to you.
We humbly confess our sins and ask your mercy.
We have not loved you with a pure heart,
nor have we loved our neighbor as ourselves.
We have not done justice, loved kindness,
or walked humbly with you, our God.
Have mercy on us, O God, in your loving-kindness.
In your great compassion,
cleanse us from our sin.
Create in us a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within us.
Do not cast us from your presence,
or take your Holy Spirit from us.
Restore to us the joy of your salvation
and sustain us with your bountiful Spirit. Amen.


I am a person of profound privilege – by John Pavolvitz (see link here)
As a white, cisgender, heterosexual Christian man raised in America, I have had nearly every benefit and buffer afforded human beings and this has made my path exponentially easier than those not carrying these qualifiers. Simply because of my pigmentation, gender, orientation, profession of faith, and physical appearance, I have been insulated from countless traumas and shielded from a multitude of threats that so many people experience as their default setting.
I have benefited from and participated in a system that has been set up for me and for people like me to succeed in ways I’ll never fully comprehend. I also know that I have been extremely fortunate to become aware of such things, and that I could just as easily missed it all and been someone very different than I am today: I could have been a hateful white man thinking I was pleasing God and making America great again by treating people horribly.
Over the past few years, it’s been horrifying to see family members, longtime friends, and people from my former churches reveal a startling ugliness that at first seemed shocking to me; white people I grew up with and knew for years and served alongside. Witnessing their contempt for immigrants, their deep-seated racism, their adoration of guns, and their irrational fear of LGBTQ people, I’ve often found myself thinking, “I know these people. I know their families. I grew up with them. How could they think like this?” as if this was an unexpected development.
Yet, the more I’ve thought about it, the more it all makes sense now. In fact, as I considered the people who raised them and the churches they attended and the narrow world they’ve spent their lives in and the media they’ve consumed for decades—the surprise would have been if they hadn’t turned out this way.
And it is here that I realize how lucky I am.
I could so easily have learned to be afraid of diversity, too.
I could have believed the lie that my whiteness is better.
I could have been polluted by toxic religion enough to hate queer people.
I could have imagined that America was the totality of the world.
I could have learned to parrot back myths about Muslims and migrants and transgender teenagers.
I could have fallen for the dangerous conspiracies and been taken in by the big lies.
I could have weaponized God and country.
And I know the fact that I somehow haven’t isn’t necessarily a matter of greater character of higher intelligence than those who grew up in similar privilege—but a combination of better information, dumb luck, and the presence of some really beautiful people who helped me transcend the smallness and the sameness of my surroundings when others were not able to.
The fact that I was fortunate enough to travel and meet disparate human beings and get better stories and to hear perspectives on America or opportunity or justice that were different than my own, remade me in ways I can’t fathom or take credit for but am grateful for.
Along the way, instead of having my religion reinforced, I had it challenged.
Instead of relinquishing my critical thinking to preachers, politicians, and talk show hosts, I learned to think for myself.
Instead of allowing partisan media to shape my understanding of the world, I went out and experienced it.
Instead of being resistant to difference, I was taught to welcome it.
I know that these people who are so afflicted with such a wasteful hatred are rational adults.
I know they are fully responsible for what they think and what they do and what they post and how they vote, yet part of me has a small measure of empathy for them because in some ways they are the products of their stories, which at many points were not so different from my story.
Even as I despise their theology and oppose their politics and condemn their violence, there is an ember of mercy in the recesses of my heart because we could have been standing in very different places right now.
These are not all mindless, unhinged, unstable caricatures. They are in many ways intelligent, reasonable human beings who remind me how easy it is to be slowly manipulated by persistent and repeated calculated lies, how persuasive fear can be when it presses into the right places, how the desire to belong will make us believe almost anything in order to remain in community. We’re all eventually responsible for our choices, so these adults are not exempt from culpability for their actions, but I also know it’s not that simple either.
I am certainly not without prejudice, not exempt from embracing stereotypes, and not above fearing people because of a false story I have about them.
I am still benefitting from my privilege in ways that I can’t fathom but I see myself and the world clearly enough to know that this unthinkable cruelty that confounds and infuriates me every day in people who look like me and come from places I come from is something I am incredibly fortunate to have been saved from.
As I work to resist these people, I need to keep trying to reach them.
There but for the grace of God and good people, go I…

In his book on emerging or progressive Christianity, The Heart of Christianity, Marcus Borg questions whether “sin” is the best term for describing our human condition before God. His argument isn’t merely theological, but liturgical: “The nearly universal liturgical element of ‘confession of sin and absolution’ might be replaced or complemented by a ‘declaration of what ails us and God’s promise to us'” (p. 170). He continues in a note: “I am not suggesting these exact words as ‘liturgical headings.’ I would hope more elegant phrases could be found, but I am suggesting the notion that lies behind these words” (p. 185, n. 8).
(adapted from

Dorothy McRae-McMahon uses the headings The Prayers of who we are (our human condition), and Words of Assurance.

Here’s another couple of headings that can provide the framing for prayers of confession.

Recognition of Exile and Hope of Restoration

God, alone in whom our hearts find their rest, we have awakened to find ourselves far from home. Our paths have led us away from you. We feel lonely and fear we are abandoned. Here, your word seems foreign to us, and we struggle to join in the music of worship. In your faithfulness, show us your presence once again, that we, too, may rejoice with all who call upon your name.

We have a good shepherd who searches for lost sheep. The Spirit of God still blows through the wilderness and prays for us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

(btw, this would be especially appropriate to use on Easter 4, when the Good Shepherd reading and Psalm 23 are included in the RCL lectionary)

Words of Assurance
Our actions sometimes show we do not know God. Our words and lives show we do not understand God’s hopes for us. But with utmost patience, God sets aside our foolishness, and fills us with mercy.
Mingled with faith and love, grace is poured into our sin-parched souls, giving us new life, restoring us as God’s children. Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Admission of Bondage and Words of Deliverance
(this needs a particular pastoral context)
Listening God, hear our cries. We are not free. We have enslaved ourselves and others to debt and despair. We are bound by vain desires, and our liberty to love is curtailed by bad habits. Our emotions hold us hostage to wrongs, real and imagined. In our bondage we are less than what you call us to be. Hear and answer us, we pray, in the name of him who came to set prisoners free.

The God of the Israelites has shown us the way of exodus. Forsaking what lies behind, we follow our liberating Lord. When we are weak in faith and strength, the Holy Spirit provides daily bread and springs of living water, that we may complete our journey in the land of promise. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Here’s a prayer by Bruce Prewer along the lines of ‘the prayers of who we are‘ (our human condition) rather than a focus on ‘sin’.

Jesus said:  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. You are truly my friends if you do what I command you.” Let us make our confession.

Most holy God, most of the time we see ourselves as nice people, who are trying to do the loving thing in a difficult world. We try not to lie, cheat, malign, abuse or injure others. We try to serve you through the church and within the community. We pray for peace and justice, and we attempt to forgive those who sin against us. By the standards of love in the wider community we have not done so badly.
Yet deep within we know how far we fall short of the love-standard set by Jesus, and we even fall beneath the level that our own ideals have set us. We feel compromised and mislead by this hustling world with its glitter. We become frustrated and undermined by a negativity within ourselves which diverts us and leads us into withholding love.
Loving God, we certainly need your pardoning grace and humbly we ask for it. But also we need much more.
We seek the grace of self honesty, and a sharper awareness of our own hearts.
We need your illuminating Light, helping us to see through the humbug of society.
We need to allow ourselves to become saturated with your love.
We ask for the spur of your Spirit to make us more eager for the art of true loving, and more determined to practice what we preach.
Grant us these graces we pray.  Amen!

Words of Assurance
In God, Source of Life,
our deaths are not the final word,
our moments of crisis are part of eternal possibility,
and our weakness is taken up into the courage of God.
As followers of Jesus of the Way,

our humanness is touched with divine life,
our tears are mingled with longing love,
and our solidarity with those who suffer
is joined by divine presence.
In the Spirit of Creativity,
there are no boundaries on the dream,
there is no end to hope,
and we will never live beyond the cherishing of God.
(Dorothy McRae-McMahon)


Christmas Day
God of grace and truth,
in Jesus Christ you came among us
as light shining in darkness.
We confess that we have not welcomed the light,
or trusted good news to be good.
We have closed our eyes to glory in our midst,
expecting little, and hoping for less.
Forgive our doubt, and renew our hope,
so that we may receive the fullness of your grace,
and live in the truth of Christ the Lord. Amen.


God of glory,
you sent Jesus among us as the light of the world,
to reveal your love for all people.
We confess that our sin and pride
hide the brightness of your light.
We turn away from the poor;
we ignore cries for justice;
we do not strive for peace.
In your mercy, cleanse us of our sin,
and baptize us once again with your Spirit,
that, forgiven and renewed, we may show forth your glory
shining in the face of Jesus Christ. Amen.

God of mercy,
you sent Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost.
We confess that we have strayed from you
and turned aside from your way.
We are misled by pride,
for we see ourselves pure when we are stained,
and great when we are small.
We have failed in love,
neglected justice,
and ignored your truth.
Have mercy, O God, and forgive our sin.
Return us to paths of righteousness
through Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

God of power and vulnerability,
in raising Jesus from the grave,
you shattered the power of sin and death.
We confess that we remain captive to doubt and fear,
bound by the ways that lead to death.
We overlook the poor and the hungry,
and pass by those who mourn;
we are deaf to the cries of the oppressed,
and indifferent to calls for peace;
we despise the weak,
and abuse the earth you made.
Forgive us, God of mercy.
Help us to trust your power
to change our lives and make us new,
that we may know the joy of life abundant
given in Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, you poured your Spirit upon gathered disciples
creating bold tongues, open ears,
and a new community of faith.
We confess that we hold back the force of your Spirit among us.
We do not listen for your word of grace,
speak the good news of your love,
or live as a people made one in Christ.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Transform our timid lives by the power of your Spirit,
and fill us with a flaming desire to be your faithful people,
doing your will for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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