A General Confession of Sins and Prayer Before the Sermon and on Days of Fasting and Prayer

O eternal and merciful God and Father, we humble ourselves before your great majesty, for we have frequently and grievously sinned against you. We acknowledge that if you were to enter into judgment with us, we would deserve nothing but temporal and eternal death. We are deeply conscious of the fact that we are conceived and born in sin, and that all manner of evil desires against you and our neighbour fill our hearts. We continually transgress your commandments, failing to do what you have commanded us, and doing that which you have expressly forbidden. We all, like sheep, have gone astray and each of us has turned to his own way. We acknowledge our waywardness, and are heartily sorry for all our sins. We confess that our transgressions are innumerable, and that we have nothing with which to repay our debt. Therefore we are not worthy to be called your children, nor to lift up our eyes to you in heaven.

Nevertheless, O Lord God and gracious Father, we know that you do not desire the death of the sinner, but rather that he should turn to you and live. We know that your mercy toward those who turn to you is infinite; and so we take courage to call upon you from the depths of our hearts, trusting in our Mediator Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Have compassion on us and forgive us all our sins for Christ’s sake. Wash us in the pure fountain of his blood, so that we may become clean and white as snow. Cover our nakedness with his righteousness, for the glory of your name. Free our understanding from all blindness, and our hearts from all stubbornness and rebellion.

Open now the mouth of your servant, and fill it with your wisdom and knowledge, that he may boldly proclaim your Word in all its purity. Prepare our hearts to receive it, to understand it, and to preserve it. Inscribe your law, as you have promised, on our hearts, and give us the desire and the strength to walk in the ways of your precepts, to the praise and glory of your name, and to the edification of the church.

All this, gracious Father, we implore in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Or: … who taught us to pray, Our Father … )

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