Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States. I was privileged to bring the Prayer of Confession at the gathering here. Here is my prayer.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Father, I come before you today to confess sin, for myself and on behalf of the church and the nation. I stand before you in distress today for how we have sinned against you and can only stand before you because the work of Christ allows us to approach the throne of grace boldly so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.
This, of Lord, is our time of need.
I confess, Lord, that I am a sinner. I have no illusions about myself. You have stripped me of pretensions and shown me who I am. I have broken your commandments. I have dishonored my savior.
I have been greedy and ambitious. I have inflicted pain on those who love me when I was angry. I have been selfish, seeking my satisfaction rather than serving those around me.
I have been a hypocrite. I have pretended to be a godly man when I was not. I have pretended to be a good family man when I was not.
I have refused to give to the poor when I knew they needed it.
I confess that I have failed to speak the gospel to someone who needed to hear it.
I have neglected your word and prayer for long periods of time.
I have sought worldly success by worldly means rather than rely on you.
I am ashamed that, while all my sins were placed on Christ at his crucifixion, many of those were sins I committed after being saved.
Although it was painful, I am thankful you pulled the rug out from under me and let me fall far enough to see the truth: that living for your glory is the only satisfying thing in life, both here and in eternity.
On behalf of the church, I confess we have not done many of the things you commanded us to do, and have spent much time on things you did not tell us to do.
You told us to love you with all of our heart, soul and mind. But we confess that we have loved ourselves, seeking our comfort and our self esteem rather than your glory.
You told us to have no gods before you. We confess we have placed our desire for wealth, status and entertainment before you.
You told us to go to the nations and make disciples. We confess we have built and hidden behind huge expensive fortresses.
When you brought people from all the nations to us, we treated them badly and did not share the gospel with them because they were poor or dirty or different.
You told us to give without reservation to the person who asks; in fact to give more than he asked. We confess we questioned his motives and closed our hands.
You told us to help “the least of these”. We confess we preferred to party with our friends.
You told us to continue in your word. We confessed we watched television, went to movies and sporting events, and read frivolous books and magazines.
You told us to seek wisdom. We confess that we sought entertainment.
You told us to flee sexual immorality. We confess that many are addicted to pornography, even among our clergy.
You told us to honor marriage. We confess we have dishonored marriage by divorcing as much or more than the non-believers. We dishonored it by failing to love and serve each other as you told us to even when we stayed married.
You told us to do all things for your glory. We confess we have glorified ourselves whenever possible, sometimes while pretending to glorify you.
Father, we realize, as the body of Christ, we have no land as Israel had land. We, like Abraham, look forward to the city with foundations , whose architect and builder is God. Yet you placed us here and we care for this nation and its people as we know you do.
On behalf of our nation, I confess we are in moral and spiritual decline. More than 2 million Americans are in prison. Many more crimes have gone unpunished.
We confess we have given power to an entertainment business that seeks in large part to tear down the moral fiber of society and see how debased it can get before someone reigns it in. We confess we have done this by giving them huge sums of money to entertain us.
We confess that our education system teaches our children destructive values and anti-Christian philosophy.
We confess that our government and many of our people conduct a full time assault on the institutions of marriage and family.
We confess that our culture has glorified men and women who put their careers above their families. We have created two generations of young men that have not had fathers and do not know how to be a father or husband or even simply an adult.
We confess that we have devalued life. We have treated pets better than people. We have treated murderers better than their victims. We have warehoused children in day care centers. We have made adopting a child so difficult it is often easier to go into another country to do it.
And, Lord, while we stand in this place whose mission is to place children in loving homes, we know that next door vast sums of money are being spent to construct a killing field for infants made in your image. We confess this is to our shame and we know that you call to us to account for the life of every human being that is killed. You have made that plain in your Word.
We confess that while the majority of Americans say they are Christians, we have denied the power of God and godliness. We as a nation have become darkened in our thinking. We have lost our way.
PLEA FOR MERCY
I am afraid, O Lord. I fear you.
I am afraid you will pour out your wrath on our nation in judgment of our sin.
I am afraid you will purify your church with the fire of persecution. Even more, I am afraid you will slip quietly away to work in Africa or Asia and no one will notice until we turn out the lights on the last church.
So, what can we do? What can take away this stain of sin? What can deliver us from judgment?
Only your grace and mercy can deliver us. And so, oh merciful Father, we plead today for forgiveness. We plead for mercy. We plead for grace.
Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear and what for us has become a consuming fire of judgment.
Fulfill in every contrite heart the promise of redeeming grace. Forgive our sins. Cleanse us from an evil conscience through the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord.
And all the people said: Amen.