Last night during our Wednesday gathering at the church where I pastor, one of our lay leaders led us in a time of prayer. He set up our auditorium into 4 smaller sections. Using the A.C.T.S prayer acronym we broke into 4 different groups and spent time praying at each station. The A.C.T.S. prayer acronym represents these four types of prayers; Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (petition or requests). During our time last night we were able to give God glory and Adore His name, Confess to God, give Thanks to God, and make known our requests to God. We were instructed to go to each station but could choose any order. I chose to go to Confession first. I wish I could tell you it was because I am some really great pastor and wanted to be a leader to the one station that I thought would be used the least. Really I went there first because I thought it would be the least crowded. I was surprised by two things. The first was that it was just as crowded as any other. The second thing is that this is where I spent most of my time last night. Honestly I could have stayed there all night. I am a rule follower and had to fight the urge to dip back into confession when I was at the other stations. I wanted my time of confession to release me from guilt, clear my conscience, unburden my heart, and make me lighter. It did none of those things in that moment. I still wait for what may come from that confessional experience.
Making Confession a Habit
I'm not sure anything can really come from a one-time, somewhat forced (I was following the instructions, not my own idea) confession. It seems to me that confession must be a habit or as we like to say, discipline. Usually when I pray and confess it is only to reach the petition for forgiveness, grace, and mercy. I must admit that confession is not in my repertoire of spiritual disciplines to exercise. Last night I had to ask myself, “Why am I so afraid to confess?” “Why do I seek out distractions to not spend time in confession with God?” “Do I really think that I am doing life alone?” It is time to create a habit, exercise, or discipline of confession. Every morning I try to give thanks to God for 5 different things. It would be easy for any of us to make 3 confessions to God each day. To create a habit of confession is to deepen our relationship with God. Habits take time to sustain and become beneficial. No one grows killer abs in 7 minutes. It takes weeks and months of daily workout time to have that kind of physique. To make confession a part of your spiritual life means starting small, exercising confession consistently, and establishing trust in yourself and God.
Confession to friends
Once we sustain a habit of confession the easier it will be for us to confess to Him and share our confession with a trusted friend. Everyone needs at least one friend they can share anything and it won’t lead to judgment or discord. That friend will walk with you through anything and yet will not allow for you to walk a dangerous path. Confession to friends takes trust. You must trust yourself, God, and the other person. Not all of your friends need to have this kind of relationship with you. However, you must find at least one you can trust enough and feel safe around to share your struggles and shortcomings. Confessing to your friends will only really work if they are willing to confess to you as well. This mutual sharing will create a bond in Christ that won’t be easily broken. Those friends that earn their spot at your confessional table are a gift from God. However, that shouldn’t be their only function as a friend. Don’t treat this friend as a personal priest, where all you talk about is your confessions or their confessions. The relationship of friend must be the foundation and the ability to confess to them is just another layer to an already rich relationship.
Two Kinds of Confession
Mostly when we talk about confession we speak about the idea of sharing the “tough” stuff of our lives. We are regarding sin, struggles, trials, frustrations, and unpleasantness of life. The other type of confession we usually refer to as “witnessing” or testimony. The other type of confession is sharing the fact of our faith and the belief we have in God, Jesus, and Spirit. Both types of confession are important. What I find extremely interesting in my years as a pastor is that those who are not Christian and are coming to know Jesus struggle with confession of His name, but find it easy to confess their sin and shortcomings. Those that are Christian find it easy to confess Jesus, but struggle with confessing sin. Christians usually believe that they are the one who should be teaching the non-Christian. In this situation they not only learn from us how to confess Jesus, but we learn from them how to confess sin.
Ready to Confess?
If you want to be free from sin and its bondage. If you want to bring light to the darkness around. If you want to unburden your soul. Then begin to make confession a spiritual exercise for your life. Satan loves to expose us through the hidden places of our soul. Trust God and glorify Him by consistently confessing His name and the pieces of your life where you have denied Him or completely refused Him. Confession brings freedom, light, and life to us as we continue in our journey.