I said, O Lord, have mercy on me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you.
Prayer is sometimes confession. It is the acknowledgment of our short comings, our missing the mark, our moral failings. Confession is also the acknowledgment of our longing to change, our longing to be healed and our longing to be set free to love God and others.
When we confess to God, we throw ourselves on God’s mercy. It is, in fact, because of God’s mercy that we can come to God with our confession and our need for healing.
Many of us imagine that God will not respond with mercy. We imagine that God is disappointed with us, angry with us, waiting to punish us. We may imagine that we have to clean up our act before we can come to God. All of this leaves us believing that we are on our own to somehow do the good we long to do, but cannot seem to do.
But we are not on our own. We do not have to clean up our mess before we come to God. Like the psalmist, we can come to God in the middle of the mess we have made and throw ourselves on God’s love and mercy. We can run to God and acknowledge our sin and our need for help and healing.
God is our loving parent. And, like a loving parent, God welcomes our confession and our desire to live a life of love. Imagine a parent whose child confesses that they said something mean to a friend at school. Imagine the child asking for help to learn to not be so angry and mean to this friend. A loving parent’s heart would melt. They would be so grateful for this tenderness of spirit, this honesty, this openness. This is how God receives our confession. God’s tenderness meets our brokenness. God’s love and mercy enfold us and bless us. God’s Spirit moves in us to heal us and set us free.
When we become aware of thoughts or actions that are destructive, self-serving or hurtful to others our instinct may be to react out of fear or shame. As a result we may deny or minimize our wrong doing and do everything we can to avoid God.
But what we need in these moments is to run to God. We are invited by God, welcomed by God, to run into God’s loving arms and say with the psalmist, “God have mercy on me, heal me, I have sinned.”
I need your mercy,
I need your help.
I have sinned against you
I need your healing.
I need your help.
I long to live a life of love.
But I fall short.
In your great mercy,
Set me free.
Sit quietly, reflecting on God’s mercy. As you are ready, confess your failings to God. Be specific about the ways you have fallen short. Ask God’s Spirit to reveal anything else you need to confess. Ask God to heal you and free you to love as God loves.
Ask God to direct you to a spiritual friend or mentor and, with their permission, share your confession with them.