Has someone ever asked you for a favor at an inopportune time? Have you ever put forth your best personal effort, only to feel that your diligent work went unnoticed? Imagine how our Heavenly Father must sometimes feel! We approach Him with a barrage of requests, petitions, needs, and concerns. Sometimes we fail to acknowledge all that He has already done for us before asking Him to do more. Without meaning to, we can become so focused on asking God to address the wrongs that we believe have been committed against us, that we do not seek His forgiveness for our own sins. This self-centered and self-righteous mindset can not only disrupt our prayer life; it can sabotage the effectiveness of our prayers altogether.
When we pray without first asking God to forgive our sins, we pray with a false assumption of righteousness. Ecclesiastes 7:20 states “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” Everyone wants to be thought of as a good person. But to deny our sins, is to deny our Heavenly Father’s power to forgive us.
1 John 1:8-10 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
Therefore, before taking our petitions to the Lord in prayer, we must confess our sins. An old Scottish proverb acknowledges that “Open confession is good for the soul”. Open doesn’t mean declaring our shortcomings publicly, it means bringing issues out in the open before God instead of keeping them covered and hidden in our hearts. Confession is liberating because it clears out the spiritual interference, burdens, and distractions so that we can focus on communing with God.
It can be difficult to admit our wrongdoing to ourselves, much less to our Creator. Yet, confessing our sins is essential to an effective prayer life. We can sin by commission (what we do) and omission (what we don’t do). We sin in our hearts, through our thoughts, because those thoughts can grow to become words and deeds that are outside of God’s will. We may as well go ahead and confess our sins because the Lord knows all about them anyway. Hebrews 4:13 says “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Confessing our sins and approaching the Lord with a contrite heart, opens the doors to a rich and fruitful prayer life. Proverbs 15:29 “The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”