904) Prayer of Confession Based on Ten Commandments

Martin Bucer (1491-1551) was a German Protestant reformer.  He often played the role of mediator between different factions of the reformers, a task that led to great frustration and limited success.  He spent the last two years of his life in England where he assisted Thomas Cranmer in the revision of The Book of Common Prayer.

For his 1534 Liturgy for the Church of Strasbourg Bucer wrote the below paraphrase of the Ten Commandments in the form of an extended prayer of confession.  Many have found it helpful in their examination of conscience in preparation for Holy Communion.  The text is from Bard Thompson’s Liturgies of the Western Church (1961).

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I poor sinner confess to thee, O Almighty, eternal, merciful God and Father, that I have sinned in manifold ways against thee and thy commandments.

I confess that I have not believed in thee, my one God and Father, but have put my faith and trust more in creatures than in thee, my God and Creator, because I have feared them more than thee.  And for their benefit and pleasure, I have done and left undone many things in disobedience to thee and thy commandments.

I confess that I have taken thy holy Name in vain, that I have often sworn falsely and lightly by the same, that I have not always professed it nor kept it holy as I ought; but even more, I have slandered it often and grossly with all my life, words, and deeds.

I confess that I have not kept thy Sabbath holy, that I have not heard thy holy Word with earnestness nor lived according to the same; moreover that I have not yielded myself fully to thy divine hand, nor rejoiced in thy work done in me and in others, but have often grumbled against it stoutly and have been impatient.

I confess that I have not honored my father and mother, that I have been disobedient to all whom I justly own obedience, such as father and mother, my superiors, and all who have tried to guide and teach me faithfully.

I confess that I have taken life:  that I have offended my neighbor often and grossly by word and deed, caused him harm, grown angry over him, borne envy and hatred toward him, deprived him of his honor and the like.

I confess that I have been unchaste.  I acknowledge all my sins of the flesh and all the excess and extravagance of my whole life in eating, drinking, clothing and other things; my intemperance in seeing, hearing, speaking, etc., and in all my life; yea, even fornication, adultery, and such.

I confess that I have stolen.  I acknowledge my greed.  I admit that in the use of my worldly goods I have set myself against thee and thy holy laws.  Greedily and against charity have I grasped them.  And scarcely, if at all, have I given of them when the need of my neighbor required it.

I confess that I have born false witness, that I have been untrue and unfaithful toward my neighbor.  I have lied to him, I have told lies about him, and I have failed to defend his honor and reputation as my own.

And finally I confess that I have coveted the possessions and spouses of others.  I acknowledge in summary that my whole life is nothing else than sin and transgression of thy holy commandments and an inclination toward all evil.

Wherefore I beseech thee, O heavenly Father, that, thou wouldst graciously forgive me these and all my sins.  Keep and preserve me henceforth that I may walk only in thy way and live according to thy will; and all of this through Jesus Christ, thy dear Son, our Savior.  Amen.

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Psalm 38:18  —  I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.

Psalm 51:3  —  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

I John 1:9  —  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

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THE TEN COMMANDMENTS:

And God spake all these words, saying:

I am the Lord thy God…  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image...

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…

Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house…, nor thy neighbor’s wife… nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.

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