Prayer: A Guide to Confession

Confessing to God (Psalm 139)


It has been said that this passage can be one of the most comforting passages in all of Scripture yet simultaneously the most intimidating. This passage explains how God is familiar with all of our thoughts, plans, and ways. David writes

“Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”


John also writes in John 2:24 Jesus knows all men, meaning God knows what is hidden in the depth of our souls. What John writes and what David writes in Psalm 139 doesn’t have to be intimidating at all, it is actually liberating. God knows our hearts, and knows that we are like the flowers of the field who have good and bad days (Psalm 103:14-16 & Isaiah 40:6-7). The truth that God knows our deepest thoughts is liberating because he has seen us through the “dark nights” of life, those times we want to pass. What does this all mean? It means that we can approach God confidently knowing that there is nothing we can hide from him. It means there is nothing we can tell him that he doesn’t already know. Your confession is your admission of acting out of unbelief or living in unbelief. It should come from your heart and out of your mouth to God. John also says, “God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins.” (1 John 1:9) We have to confess our sins in order to experience God’s presence in our life.


The following is a guide to help you pray. As you come to God with an honest heart, you may not need it, so feel free to put it away if you believe God is directing you to pray differently.


Read through Psalm 139 slowly and meditatively.


  • Looking at the verse 2, David writes that God is familiar with his sitting and his rising. Use this verse to confess to God times when you have followed earthly wisdom instead of his Word and promises. Confess any faithlessness in believing his word.
  • Looking at verse 2 again, David writes God perceives his thoughts from afar. Confess wandering thoughts that you have had, and ask God to help you set your mind on him. Ask God to cleanse your mind from any filth you have absorbed from the world, so that your thoughts will be pleasing to him.
  • Looking at verse 3, David writes that God discerns his going out and lying down. Sometimes we make gods of our personal ambitions and desires, and find that we have built an altar where we worship other things. Confess how you may have made your career/school/personal desires the priority in your life. Ask God to help you love him above all things again.
  • The root of all sin is unbelief in God. It means we sin when we choose to do things our own way which results in disobedience. The sins that develop out of our hearts grow from Greed, Anger, Gluttony, Slothfulness, Lust, Envy, and Pride. Each of these can manifest itself in our soul most often undetected. Take time asking God to show you how each one of these has taken root in your life, and confess them.
  • Read through verse 23-24, and pray it aloud as your own prayer.