Here are a few practical ways to incorporate more confession into your life.
Begin and end your day with confession.
At the outset of the day, we begin our days aware that we are sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace to not only cover us from the day and night before, but we live the entire day aware of God’s constant mercy. At the end of the day, we might confess specific ways we have pursued selfish desires, given in to temptation, sinned by commission or omission, and failed to love God with heart, mind, and soul. In light of who we are, without confession we often come to God with arrogance as if we have the earned the way rather than receiving it by amazing grace.
When you sin against God, be quick to confess and repent.
Often we try to hide it, deny it, make up for it, act as if we must do penance and feel guilty for a period of time, or tell ourselves that our failures make us unfit to come to God right away. God’s mercy is free because Jesus has purchased it for us, and it is available solely by faith when we turn to God. No penance or works or penalty period need put into place. Confess and return to God immediately and he is eager to restore us.
Be honest with other believers.
If there are friends in your small group at church, be willing to regularly confess your sins (as sins) to one another both so they can encourage you to put that sin off and to encourage with the assurance found in the gospel even when we stumble.
As a family, establish a pattern of confession of sin.
Confession must characterize our relationships, as spouses to one another, as parents to children, and hopefully then as children to parents. Many parents especially try to hide their sin or appear to their kids as if they have everything under control—many husbands do this to their wife as well—but a gospel-centered home is one where so believe in the freeness and fullness of grace through Jesus that we know we can be honest about sins and struggles. These don’t define us or make us unlovable in the eyes of God since our identity is in Christ, but they are things needing repented of in community.
Be quick to admit fault to others.
This might not involve confession of sin, but there’s a close relationship between a person’s humility and willingness to admit fault to others and their willingness to confess sins to God. However, those who are prideful and either rarely see any faults needing admitted to other people or unwilling to admit them to that person when they do exist are usually people unlikely to confess their sins to God. Admitting your faults to others when you fail them, mistreat them, or sin against them will make confessing sin to God more natural, and the same is true in reverse.
Know your heart well enough that you know the things needing confessed.
We should be careful of some kind of overdone introspection that tries to stir up every possible sin from the day or beats ourselves into misery with our depravity, but we might be helped by a regular examination of our heart to know where we might be drifting away from the Lord or disobeying Him. The more aware we are of our heart’s condition the better suited we are to confess our sins, confront our idols, and pursue Jesus.
Pair confession with thanksgiving and preaching the gospel to yourself.
Confession of sin and a reminder of who we really are and what we truly deserve is actually both soul-freeing and God-glorifying. Few things will magnify God’s grace, patience, kindness, mercy, love, and salvation like recalling how far short of Him we stand. Because of this, confession of sin is followed by thanksgiving to God for all his provisions and work to forgive and redeem, as well as his love in still setting his affection on us. Confession therefore must also be paired to preaching the gospel to ourselves lest we think our sins must be paid for ourselves or disqualify us from what Jesus has earned.