3 Reasons Why Confession is Essential for Worship
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 has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.
From the PCUSA Book of Common Worship
Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993; p. 88
I have been going to church all my life, and very rarely have I seen an open invitation to confession. I have never seen an established avenue for confession. Maybe I’m going to the wrong churches, but it seems like confession is a concept that we talk about, we say it is important, and then we move on and don’t tell people how to actually do it.Confession is not just important, confession is vital in the life of a believer. If you’ve gotten through years of following Christ without intentionally confessing sin, there is a huge part of being in relationship with God that you are missing.
And then there’s worship. Most churches are all about worship, but they assign that word to the 3-5 songs that we sing before the sermon. Some churches may title offering the worship of giving, and preaching the worship of hearing the word. Those things are true. But none of the things we do during a church service are actually worship.
Music, giving, hearing the word of God.. those are all amazing vehicles to get us to worship. Worship is the state of your heart before God. Worship is your mind opening and allowing God to transform it, to wash you in his word, to fill you with his powerful grace.
Confession is another vehicle to worship. The act itself is significant because we are specifically called to do it, but it is an avenue to worship because it positions us correctly before God and gives us a great mindset for worshiping our maker.
Confession puts your heart in the right place for worship. When you take stock of your heart and mind, you tend to realize the depth of your depravity. That is a good thing! One of the biggest issues in Christianity today is the belief that we really aren’t all that bad. Confession helps us to see our sin, to know in our hearts that we are the chief of sinners, and to realize how badly we need the grace and salvation of God. That position of dependence on God is a great place to worship.
Confession clears the way for God to work in your life. Another giant problem in the lives of Christians is the reluctance to recognize their sin as sin. If you won’t deal with sin, you leave your heart so full of gunk that the fruits of the Spirit are going to have a rough time growing. You are asking God to build righteousness and faithfulness in your life right next to your pile of bitterness and lust and greed. You are trying to worship God, open your heart and mind to his work in your life, while they are stuffed full of indulgence. It just doesn’t work, you need to clear that crap out.
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Confession connects and encourages people. One of Satan’s biggest lies is that we are alone in our struggle, whatever that struggle may be. A powerful benefit of confessing our sins to each other is finding that we all deal with sin together and that no sin is so horrible that God can’t redeem us from it. That community is a really strong bond, and when you stand together in worship with people who know your worst and love you anyway, you feel grateful, loved, and understood.
Worship really is all about the state of your heart before God. When you are open to hearing from him, to his work in your life, to appreciating what he has done.. Those are all worship. And there are so many ways to get to a place of worship. But confession is one of the essentials.