Preparation for Private Absolution

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[accordion-item title=”1. How Christian Should Be Taught to Confess”]

Meditate on “What is Confession?”, “What sins should we confess?”, and “Which are these?” by reading The Small Catechism.


[accordion-item title=”2. How Christians Should Regard Their Pastors”]

What did your pastor promise?

At his ordination, my pastor, “before our Lord God to whom [he] must give an account now and at the Last Day,” promised to forgive repentant sinners and to “never divulge the sins confessed to [him].”

What did he promise about the Lutheran Confessions?

He promised to “make these Confessions [his] own because they are in accord with the Word of God.”

Why does my pastor retain Private Absolution?

He retains it because “our churches teach that private Absolution should be retained in the churches, although listing all sins is not necessary for Confession. For, according to the Psalm, it is impossible. ‘Who can discern his errors?’ (Psalm 19:12).” (Augsburg Confession XI)

Why do we retain Confession?

We do not keep Confession to torture sinners or burden consciences, but we keep it to comfort sinners and unburden consciences, that is, “we keep Confession, especially because of the Absolution.” (Apology XII, 2)

Why does my pastor hear my confession?

First, he does not hear my confession to learn that I am a sinner. He already knows that. Second, He hears my confession to pronounce Absolution, which is God’s own Word. He speaks the voice of the Gospel upon that sin, delivering the Power of the Keys to me. He is Christ’s servant to do this and deliver God’s salvation to me, as St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, chapter four, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor 4:1)


[accordion-item title=”3. How Christian Should Be Taught to Confess, cont.”]

Meditate on “What is the Office of the Key?”, “Where is this written?”, and “What do you believe according to these words?” by reading The Small Catechism.


[accordion-item title=”4. Psalms, Hymns, and Prayer for Before Absolution”]

One or all may be used.

Psalm 51
Psalm 6
Psalm 38

“As Surely As I Live,” God Said (LSB 614)
Baptismal Waters Cover Me (LSB 616)

Almighty, everlasting God, for my many sins I justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, who won for me forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant me a true confession that, dead to sin, I may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant me Your Holy Spirit that I may be ever watchful and live a true and godly life in Your service; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.


[accordion-item title=”5. Psalms, Hymns, and Prayer for After Absolution”]

One or all may be used.

Psalm 32
Psalm 30
Psalm 146

God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It (LSB 594)
Alleluia! Let Praises Ring! (LSB 822)

Gracious God, my heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for Your boundless mercy shown to Me not only in sending Your Son Jesus into our flesh to bear my sin and be my Savior, but also sending my pastor to be the steward of the forgiveness and salvation that Your Son won for me. May that same forgiveness delivered by him in the absolution strengthen my faith in Your eternal grace and blessing, of which the Holy Spirit is the down payment and of which Your Son is the only Mediator; through the same Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.



How to Confess from the 10 Commandments

Mediate on the meanings of the 10 Commandments by reading The Small Catechism.

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[accordion-item title=”1. You shall have no other gods.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the First Commandment

  • My God is that which I love, trust, and fear most in my life. I expect my comfort, good, and delight from my God.

Have I loved, trusted, or feared other things or people more than I love trust and fear God? Have I committed idolatry by seeking comfort, good and delight from my own efforts rather than from God?

Do I look to God my heavenly Father, for all love, good, and joy? Is everything measured for me by what pleases me?

In all things am I self-centered and selfish?

Do I see my worry and fretting as sin against trusting God? On what things does my attention focus?

Do I complain about the troubles, people, work, and suffering God lays on me?

Do I love the things God gives more than I love Him? And do I cling to what God takes away, even though He gives me Himself?


[accordion-item title=”2. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Second Commandment

  • My God has placed His Name upon me in Holy Baptism and made me His dearly beloved Child through my dear Lord Jesus Christ. In His Name He has revealed Himself to me as the God of love that I might worship Him.

Do I curse? Have I cursed?

Do I use God’s Name cheaply for oaths that are frivolous or false?

Do I stand up and swear by God’s Name when it is for the truth of the Gospel or the benefit of my neighbor in need?

Do I pray with fervor in times of trouble? Am I bored and indifferent in prayer?

Is it so that I cannot speak about God truly because I am bored with God’s Word and neglect the study of the Catechism and doctrine?

Is my heart and life in the praise of God in worship? Am I mouthing things while my heart is far away?

Is my life—sealed with the Name of God in Baptism—characterized by thanksgiving and praise?


[accordion-item title=”3. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Third Commandment

  • My God has given Me His Word that I might know Him and believe in Him. His Word make me holy. It gives me eternal life and rest from all my enemies.

Do I strive to make the day of rest holy? Do I care about holy living?

Do I use the Word of God and prayer to make my time, work, study, and life holy day by day? Am I lazy and bored with the Word of God? Have I any fear of God over this neglect?

Do I honor the Word of God highly by eagerly hearing it preached at the times that are appointed? Do I gladly learn it by heart and live in it? Do I despise the Word of God by neglect, paying no attention to it when it is preached, taught, or read? 

Do I love my fellow Christians by being present with them in the Divine Liturgy to sustain them? Am I quick to make excuses for neglecting the Divine Liturgy because of what someone else has said or done, or to do other things I like more? 

Do I spend time complaining about the worship, the pastor or other people in the congregation? Do I learn the Word gladly so that I may teach it to others?


[accordion-item title=”4. Honor your father and mother.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Fourth Commandment

  • My God has given me my father and mother through whom I received life from Him. He has placed them and all temporal authority over me for my good and for the benefit of my neighbor.

Has the fear and love of God shaped my honor and obedience to parents and others in authority over me? 

Have I trusted God to bless me and make my life good when I submit to the authority of parents and those over me, or have I been angry with them, rebelling, fighting against them because I was afraid I was not getting what I had a right to get? 

Have I been insolent, sullen, and disrespectful to my parents, teachers, employers, or authorities over me? 

Have I been on good behavior when they are present and mocking them when they are absent?

Have I given honor and respect to the office of the ministry?

Have I helped those who carry responsibilities of governing? Do I pray for parents, leaders of the nation, school, and church? Do I grumble about work given me to do?


[accordion-item title=”5. You shall not murder.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Fifth Commandment

  • My God has given me and all people life. Our life is holy because God created us in His image to receive what He gives and to reflect His love to one another.

Have I treated my neighbor’s body and life as gifts of God to him?

Have I injured my neighbor with violent actions, hitting and beating on my neighbor, spoken debasing and insulting words, using foul or dirty words to describe the neighbor, or murdered him with thoughts of anger, contempt, and hatred?

Have I injured my neighbor by ridicule, by neglecting to feed or clothe him, withholding compassion and comfort from him?

Have I avoided giving help to my neighbor, avoiding involvement with him in his difficulty? 

Do I abuse my body with neglect of health care, excess of food, drink, tobacco, or drugs?


[accordion-item title=”6. You shall not commit adultery.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Sixth Commandment

  • My God has given me the gift of sexuality that I might love and honor my spouse selflessly and for the procreation of children.

Have I used for my own pleasure my ears to hear stories or my eyes to incite cravings of the body of one who is not my spouse, or my mouth to speak such words and stories?

Have I indulged my eyes with longing for my sexual satisfaction from a man or a woman who is not my spouse?

Have I dishonored marriage by ridicule, divorce, or neglecting to encourage others to be faithful to their spouses in the fear of God?

Have I had sexual intercourse with a man or woman who is not my spouse?

Have I dishonored my spouse by neglecting to care for the body, mind, feeling, and needs of the other, withdrawing faithfulness from my spouse?

Have I failed to trust God to bless us in our marriage, even in times of trouble? Have I neglected to pray for my spouse, to attend the Divine Liturgy together, and to live in the fear and love of God in times of sexual temptation?

Have I practiced in thoughts, words, or deeds, or given support to homosexual activity?


[accordion-item title=”7. You shall not steal.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Seventh Commandment

  • My God has given me my property and goods that I might serve my family and neighbor with His gifts.

Have I been lazy at work, doing poor work in school or at the job, or working hard only when the teacher or the boss is around?

Have I been stingy in paying my workers?

Have I been greedy, demanding best pay for poor work? Have I worked for myself rather than for Christ and for the benefit of my neighbor?

Have I cared for the property in the neighborhood, school, or church, so that it was improved?

Have I stolen from the office, from school, or the church, or stood silently while others took what was not theirs? Have I stolen information from another’s work?

Have I wasted time, food, and money by my neglect?

Have I been stingy when it comes to giving to the Lord a generous portion as thank offering for all that he has given to me?

Have I stolen from my neighbor by not helping him in time of need?


[accordion-item title=”8. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Eighth Commandment

  • My God has given me a good name and reputation that I might cover my neighbor’s sins and short-comings with mercy, in order to preserve his name and reputation in the community.

Have I told the truth in court or in school before authorities or before my parents when I knew the truth? Have I been afraid to bear witness when I knew the truth and it was necessary to speak up against a wrong-doer or to speak for a victim?

Have I gossiped, delighted to tell others about the faults of mistakes of another, excusing myself especially by saying that I spoke only the truth?

Have I gone to others to make peace if I wronged them or they me, or to correct them if I knew of their wrong?

Have I flattered others, or put on a front to make them think of me differently from what is true?


[accordion-item title=”9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Ninth Commandment

  • My God has given me everything that I need and all that is good for me.

Have I longed for the honor, wealth, happy life, or what seemed the ease of the lives of others? Has my life been full of craving for these things?

Have I been stingy and self-indulgent with my money, trying to keep up with what others had?

Have I tried by claims of various rights to make the property of others my own, saying they don’t really deserve it and I do?

Do I have to keep wishing for and dreaming about things I don’t have before I can work with a diligent and glad heart?

Have I lived in grudging discontent with whatever God has given me, restless about what I do not have and neglectful of thankful generosity with what I do have?


[accordion-item title=”10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”]

How Christians Should Be Taught to Confess from the Tenth Commandment

  • My God has given me Himself. He is my God. His will is good and gracious. In Him I am content.

Have I wanted my neighbor’s spouse, his workers, or his property to be mine?

Have I tried to win the affections and loyalties of my neighbor’s spouse or children or friends away from the neighbor to me? 

Have I urged friends and spouse and workers to go back to their calling, holding their marriages, friendships, families, and work together?

Have I fostered discontent with the congregation, its pastor or leaders, and failed to urge members to stay and do their duty in the Divine Liturgy, praying, giving and serving?