Confession and Reflection
One old tradition I loved about this church when I was a little girl, attending it for the first seven or eight years of my life, was the taking of communion. I remember my mom’s hand holding her cup away from her, just past the edge of the pew, a precaution against the unexpected moves of restless children, myself included.
More significantly, I remember the pastor telling everyone to examine their hearts before taking the cup, to consider if they were holding on to sin and to confess that sin before taking the cup. Once done with this, we were encouraged to reflect on the holiness of God.
There were years I was too little to take the cup, or at least my mom thought I was, but I still examined my heart and thought hard on God’s power in the stories I’d learned at home and in Sunday school. I especially liked to think on the rainbow in the sky after the Great Flood and how I could see it myself sometimes, a big wonderful miracle spread out in front of me, a constant reminder of God’s presence and faithfulness. Yes, God was powerful and holy indeed.
When I finally “officially” prayed the sinners’ prayer with the pastor, I was allowed to join with everyone else and participate in communion. Such a joyful examination I gave my heart! Such thankful reflecting on God’s holiness! Oh, that my sins remained so easily identifiable and I so readily open to examining my motives and attitudes and reflecting on the power of God. It became one of those things that I just did almost daily and took for granted, and then one day I realized it had been awhile. I couldn’t take my own behavior for granted; my flesh is indeed weak. Now I have to make a point to do it. Now it must be intentional.
Here are my “go-to” questions that I must prayerfully ask myself as I examine my heart. I encourage you to use them as a guideline as you examine your own heart next time you pray or take communion.
- What are the sins I’m committing lately?
- What are my motives and attitudes that are causing me to sin?
- How am I justifying my sin?
- What does the Bible tell me is the right way to avoid this area of sin; what Scriptures verses say it best?
- Do I need to follow James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective”? If yes, whom will I share this with, and when will I do this? If no, why not?
- Pray Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
- Move on to reflection on God’s holiness and power in my life in the past.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
What are some of the ways God has answered my prayers in the past and shown me His power and holiness in my life?
I hope this encourages you to embrace confession and reflection as an important part of your ongoing relationship with Jesus—not just at communion, but day by day, moment by moment.
by Jill Cristao, Director of Connections Ministries