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Traditional liturgies such as those of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches include communal prayers confessing sin. Although these do not replace the personal confessions that each believer is called to make to the Lord as part of the repentance cycle, many find them helpful in "placing souls in a right relationship" or "remembering who we are before the living God," in preparation for worship.

Note the following in the prayers:

  • the first and third prayers ask forgiveness both for sins of commission and for sins of omission;
  • the first two prayers include a movement from confession (admission of guilt) to repentance (choosing a more faithful life)
  • the second prayer begins, as does the Lord's Prayer, with an affirmation of who God is — verbally exhalting him. Worshippers speaking these words cannot easily hold onto any residual sense of self-importance or self-pride.

Anglican Confession for Morning Prayer

This prayer, from the service of Morning Prayer in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, is read aloud by the officiant and all members of the congregation near the beginning of the service, and is followed by a prayer of absolution. The service of Morning Prayer was traditionally said by all clergy, every day and often by themselves, as part of their "daily office." Many clergy no longer maintain this discipline.

Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against thy holy laws, we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen. [1]

Anglican Confession for Holy Communion

This prayer is also from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, but in this case from the service of Holy Communion. It too is read aloud by the officiant and all members of the congregation as part of the preparation for celebrating communion, and is also followed by a prayer of absolution.

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men: we acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy Divine Majesty. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings. Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, to the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [2]

Roman Catholic Confiteor

The Confiteor is the Catholic prayer of confession used at the beginning of the communion service (the "Mass") and in other services. The first recorded instance of this prayer in this context is in Micrologus by Bernold of Constance, in the eleventh century. For centuries the prayer was known only in its original Latin form, which is reproduced here, and the phrase "mea culpa" ("it is my fault") has entered into general English usage.

The Roman Catholic practice of addressing prayers to Mary and the Saints stems from church tradition and is not defensible within biblical theology.


I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and what I have failed to do. I ask blessed Mary ever Virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amen.


Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, et vobis fratres, quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo opere et omissione: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. deo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, omnes angelos et Sanctos, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum. Amen.