From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession
Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.
Pulling It Together
Forty years ago, a few friends teased another friend about several of his quirks. They got under his skin, and he blurted out, “Well, I'm just glad Jesus died for all of my sins!” That was a quick exchange that got to the point and silenced his friends. We all have too many sins to remember, let alone confess them all. It cannot be done. Luther tried and wore out his confessor with his efforts, leaving confession with less peace than when he started. Still, the Lutherans declared that private confession should be practiced in the church. We would do well to take it more seriously today.
Confession can be good for the soul. Generally, this is the case when a particular, perhaps difficult sin needs to be confronted squarely so that one might be healed. Repeated sin weighs on a person's conscience and eventually the whole person; it can sometimes lead to illness (Deut 28:58-62) and in such cases, confession is God's way that leads to forgiveness and health. That said, the Lutheran focus is always on declaring God's grace. We direct the Christian conscience to the mercy of God instead of proscribing methods for satisfying God. Routine recitation of countless sins becomes an effort to win God's favor. God already favors believers, so they should be reminded of his grace. In confession, this happens in private and public Absolution, when God silences the law by announcing his forgiveness to poor sinners like us.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for forgiving me of all my sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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In Prayer as Joy, Prayer as Struggle, Braaten explores many types of prayer, including thanksgiving, confession, praise, wrestling, petition, intercession, listening, and hope. He also explores what it means when the answer to prayer is "no" and how we experience prayer in times of doubt. In each chapter, he uses and extended biblical example of prayer and also provides the text of prayers we can use in our own practice. For all who seek joy in prayer, even as we struggle, Braaten offers an engaging personal and pastoral reflection on the ways we pray.