Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. – Lamentations 3:40.
Observe a dear little child when he has done something wrong—how he comes to his father or to his mother and begs forgiveness. Or remember how the prodigal son came to himself and said: “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee” (Luke 15:18).
Thus we are to confess our sins before God. We must truly know and realize our sin. We must beware of praying the Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer from mere force of habit, scarcely considering or knowing what or how we have sinned.
We should first search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. We must search and try our ways in the light of God’s Law. “For by the Law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).
We should take up the Commandments one by one, and in so doing search and try our ways. We shall then find enough wrong, transgression, and sin.
We should also consider the station of life into which we have been placed by God, and in the light of God’s Commandments endeavor to discern where we have sinned with regard to it. And then we should arise and go to our Father, and in sincere penitence confess our sins to Him. He assures us of His grace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God grant you always to receive that Gospel in a truly believing heart!
PRAYER – Heavenly Father, illumine me with Thy Holy Spirit that in the bright mirror of the Law I may rightly see my manifold, great and grievous sins, and truly realize the dreadful punishment of Thy wrath that my sins have merited sin. From the Gospel, however, let me also learn to know Thy kind, fatherly heart, which through Christ is opened to me, so that with a broken spirit and a contrite heart—though not despairing, but firmly trusting in Thy grace—I may confess my sins and be assured that Thou wilt surely deal with me according to Thy fatherly goodness, and wilt forgive me all my sins for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Lord, to Thee I make confession;
I have sinned and gone astray,
I have multiplied transgression,
Chosen for myself my way.
Led by Thee to see my errors,
Lord, I tremble at Thy terrors.
Yet, though conscience’ voice appal me,
Father I will seek Thy face;
Though Thy child I dare not call me,
Yet receive me to Thy grace.
Do not for my sins forsake me;
Do not let Thy wrath o’ertake me.
For Thy Son did suffer for me,
Gave Himself to rescue me,
Died to heal me and restore me,
Reconciled me unto Thee.
‘Tis alone His cross can vanquish
These dark fears and soothe this anguish
Hymn 326, 1-3. (TLH)