“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that His Word has no place in our hearts.” 1 John 1:8-10
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16
About two years ago, I lived near and attended the church of the pastors who run this website, Nick and Leah Lincoln. My husband and I were foster parents of anywhere between 2 and 10 children at any given time, in addition to our own bio kids. We hosted a small group out of our home. I prayed and read my Bible nearly every day. I thought I was the epitome of a great Christian.
Seemingly without warning, my marriage came to a crashing halt. Amidst a series of chaotic events, I had to end my role as a foster parent, hurting the young children I had felt were my life’s purpose and passion, and I became separated from my husband for nearly a year. I couldn’t understand where all this was coming from, and I felt, much like Job of the Bible, attacked by God for no reason. Three close friends of Job could not answer his pride, his fervent denial of any wrongdoing in his life, but the youngest and last to speak, Elihu, replied with righteous anger:
You said, “I am pure; I am without sin; I am innocent; I have no guilt. God is picking a quarrel with me, and He considers me His enemy. He puts my feet in the stocks and watches my every move.” But you are wrong, and I will show you why. For God is greater than any human being. So why are you bringing a charge against Him? Why say He does not respond to people’s complaints? For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. He makes them turn from doing wrong; He keeps them from pride. Job 33: 9-17 NLT
At the beginning of my own downfall from pride, I reached out to Pastor Nick, who told me that I must have done something to threaten my marriage and incur this breakdown in communication with my husband, but all I could see was my husband’s anger and disobedience toward God regarding our call to minister as foster parents. All I could see was the hurt my husband was causing, and I found no fault in myself.
I blamed the seeming lack of support from my husband’s family, the church, our friends. I blamed everyone but myself because I justified all my actions. I thought perhaps a change of environment would help save our marriage, so I moved my kids back west 2,505 miles away near my family. In my pain and confusion, I made a lot of quick, drastic decisions while barely consulting my husband, let alone God. As months passed with no resolution, we signed divorce papers, and in my enormous feelings of worthlessness and severe depression, I began dating a man I knew from high school, which only ended with more misery and divisiveness. This man also swindled me out of $4,000 while I worked two jobs, and barely saw my children, in an effort to pay the bills.
Slowly and painfully, I handed God the crumpled-up wad of trash that had become my life. God set to work restoring all I had lost, including, to His glory forever!, my marriage. The relationship we have now is better than ever, and though I may never become a foster parent again, I have found my worth not in some “calling”, but in Jesus Christ. Things are not perfect, however, and the Holy Spirit is still teaching me so much!!
Recently, as I set aside more time each day to read Scripture and listen for God’s prompting through His Holy Spirit during prayers, God convicted me of the need to confess my sins. Try as I might to harness a consistent feeling of joy and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ, every few days I would succumb to depression, laziness and physical illness due to overwhelming thoughts that I am not good enough, that there are too many problems in the world, and that people are suffering and dying without ever hearing of Jesus. This thinking pattern is so negative that it gives me doubts about God’s goodness and nearness. God showed me that by confessing my sins, He will heal me. I am still in the process of being healed, but I have learned by seeking Him through all of my doubts and sorrows, that it is only to my benefit to humble myself daily before Him.
I am not great at saying the right words during praying, and rarely have I given a lot of thought to confession. I just thought I would get started by making a list of all the sins I could think of, and then focus on each one for as long as I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me to acknowledge my wrongs. The obedience to pray over my sin of pride is mine, but the words came directly from the Holy Spirit, and I could not have come up with what to say on my own. I believe this prayer can direct others to pray in confession and repentance of whatever sins you may struggle with, and so I hope it is helpful to you.
I am not great at this prayer stuff. Holy Spirit, please help me to do what is right and pleasing to You. I confess many sins, the first of which is pride, because thinking that I have no need for confession has led me to sit back and question You and judge Your inaction rather than focus on my own contrite, broken spirit in need of You, my Healer. Pride has blinded me to the goodness and strength in others; instead, I sat back and judged them as well: my husband, my parents, my foster daughter, my in-laws, my sisters and brother, my aunt and uncle, and my friends. Pride has literally devoured every relationship in my life so that I am barred from true intimacy with anyone. I am often lonely, and it is of my own doing, for I know I am never truly alone in You.
This feeling of superiority over others has weakened me in every way. It has deceived me that I don’t need to fully rely on You. My sin of pride has set back by years the plans You have for me. Pride led to my first divorce and later to adultery and many other challenges in dating and marriage. It kept me from seeking You first in all I do, and so I lost the gift of ministry through being a foster parent amongst other blessings. I broke my own heart, and I wished to end my own life, all for building everything on my own out of pride.
Because of pride, my broken brain of sin automatically categorizes people as better or worse than me, on factors like attractiveness, outgoingness, wealth, age, position, possessions, and more. Because of pride, I justify surrounding myself with whoever I judge as below me, justifying my need to feel superior to others by telling myself I am called to help them, to bear their burdens and teach them Your path of life. And so, I am often dismayed and overwhelmed, for the work of my pride is mere sin and cannot succeed as Your hand is not upon it. My strength is from Your grace, not anything I have achieved.
I repent of this pride, this driven, overwhelming unsatisfaction of life that has chained me down from experiencing joy and other fruit of the Holy Spirit. Please forgive me. I do not want to desire worldly accolade or reward but only to love You by obeying You. Please show me how to build true fellowship with the people You have put in my path. Create in me a pure, clean servant’s heart that loves others the way You do and renew a steadfast spirit within me. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.