Chapter 2

Prayers to Confess Sin and Humble Ourselves

Of all of Jesus’ names and titles, the one
I like best is the one the Pharisees gave Him: Friend of Sinners. I believe it was one of His favorites too. Jesus said that He “came to seek and save those who are lost” (luke 19:10). “Friend of Sinners” captures the reason He came better than any other title. A true friend will love you even when you don’t deserve it and will go out to look for you when you’ve lost your way. Jesus does all of that and more: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (john 15:13).

I love to think of Jesus as my friend, but friendship is a two-way street. I need to ask myself, “What kind of a friend am I to Jesus?” If I’m someone’s friend, I’m going to care for our relationship. I’ll be mindful of things that could be hurtful or cause distance distance between us. Nothing has caused Jesus more pain than sin.

Remembering how much my sins cost Jesus helps me be a better friend to him. So do the Bible’s prayers of confession and humbling ourselves before God.

There is honesty in these prayers: “You know what your servant is really like” (2 sam. 7:20); “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults” (psalm 19:12).

There’s real humility in these prayers, and a spot-on description of what sin does to us: “Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within” (psalm 31:10); “my sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out” (psalm 40:12). These prayers clearly set forth God’s holiness and show a humble admission that His judgment of sin is justified and the discipline He gives is deserved.

But you’ll also find joy. “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (psalm 32:1-2). These prayers show us the way to innocence and the joy God so longs to give.

The psalmist reminds us, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (psalm 66:18 niv). These prayers teach us the best way to pray; they mark the path that leads to the cross and to our Savior’s heart. God has mercifully given us these prayers to show us the way back to Him.


You know me completely,
yet you love me.

What more can I say to you? You know what your servant is really like, Sovereign Lord. Because of your promise and according to your will, you have done all these great things and have made them known to your servant. How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! —2 samuel 7:20-22



My guilt overwhelms me.

O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me. Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to bear. But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done. —psalm 38:1-4, 18

I humble myself before you.

Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me
—psalm 131:1-2

I have wandered, but I love you.

O Lord, listen to my cry; give me the discerning mind you promised. Listen to my prayer; rescue me as you promised. Let praise flow from my lips, for you have taught me your decrees. Let my tongue sing about your word, for all your commands are right. Give me a helping hand, for I have chosen to follow your commandments. O Lord, I have longed for your rescue, and your instructions are my delight. Let me live so I can praise you, and may your regulations help me. I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands. —psalm 119:169-176

Wash me clean, Lord.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. —psalm 51:7-9



I am unworthy of all of your kindness.

I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant. —from genesis 32:10

Help, forgive, and save me for your glory!

Help me, O God of my salvation! Help me for the glory of your name. Save me and forgive my sins for the honor of your name. —psalm 79:9*

I repent of my rebellion.

Lord, see my anguish! My heart is broken and my soul despairs, for I have rebelled against you. —from lamentations 1:20

Have mercy on me.

O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner. —from luke 18:13