How to confess your sins before a Priest?

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

  1. Prayers before confession:

Read the penitential psalms {6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 129, 149}, Meditate on relevant Bible portions and the parables on repentance.  Read also the prayers before confession, that is given in the Holy Qurbana Kramam.

  • Self-examination

Take time to recall your sins, both voluntary and involuntary, in prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit.  Take a journey into the past life, examine your failures and shortcomings. Enlist them. There is no single list of sins in the Bible. Find a quiet place where you can be alone. Concentrate on the love of Jesus. {He became man, because He loves us; He died on the cross, because He loves us; He rose again because He loves us; He ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us, because He loves us. How can we offend Him?}. Think what you are and what God wants you to be? Are you worthy to be called as His creation. When He comes again what will you tell Him.

  • The Act of Confession
  • The penitent must kneel before the priest and make the sign of cross and say the prescribed prayer.

Prayer upon Confession of Sin before the Priest.

I confess my sins to God the Father Almighty, and to His Beloved son, Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit, the One True God, in the presence of St. Mary, ever virgin Mother of God; all Holy angels, archangels Michael and Gabriel; St. John the Baptist; the chief of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul; St. Thomas, our patron saint; the prophets; the twelve Apostles; four Evangelists; the seventy two sent forth and all the Orthodox Fathers. I confess the holy faith of the three Ecumenical Councils of Nicea, Constantinople and Ephesus. I confess to you, Reverend Father because I genuinely believe, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosened in heaven.

I have sinned through all my senses, both inwardly and outwardly in word, in deed and in thought. My sins are many and very great, and I repent of it most sincerely, purposing not to fall into the same ever. I ask of you, by the authority of the sacred priesthood, that you absolve me and forgive, asking God to pardon me through His Grace. Amen.   

If time does not permit then you can say “In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I confess my sins”.

  • Confess your sins honestly to your spiritual father. Remember that you are not disclosing them to a man but to God Himself, Who already knows your sins, but wishes that you admitted them. There is no reason to be ashamed about this. Do not think what your father will think about you. [he will love you more because you confessed sincerely].  If you hide your sins then one day it will be laid open before God Himself, before angels; before everyone, acquaintance and stranger alike.
  • Confess all your sins in full, each sin separately, great or small, one by one, sort out circumstances. St, John Chyrostom says, “it is not sufficient to say I sinned or I am a sinner, but you must declare each sins separately. One must list the sins”. St. Basil says, “revelation of sins is like relating your physical ills”. You will not say to your doctor ‘ I am sick, cure me. But you will say symptom by symptom: headache, fever, vomiting sensation, giddiness, loss of appetite. etc. Similarly your spiritual father is a spiritual physician who will heal you of your spiritual ailment of sins. The silence or concealing a sin is in itself a great sin.
  • Do not kind be to yourself, judge yourself, or blame your weakness, habits etc. The more you justify yourself, God will not justify you. {Pharisee} The more you condemn, denounce, accuse and debase yourself, the more God will justify you. (Publican}(Lk. 18: 9-14). Avoid unnecessary details, unless asked for by the father confessor. Crystallize your thinking before you come to confession. 
  • Do not mention anybody else in your confession. Do not complain or condemn others. This is not a confession but a new sin.
  • Remember confession is not a chat of a sinner with the priest. The penitent should not be engaged in a casual conversation, as this would show unrepentiveness. So you should confess with sorrow, and a contrite heart. Forgiveness is entirely conditional on the complete transformation of the penitent life 
  • Confess your sins with faith in Jesus Christ, with hope in His mercy. Only with the faith in Jesus and hope in Him we can receive forgiveness. Only through the abundance of God’s mercy can you receive forgiveness. [Judas repented, but he had no hope in God’s mercy, so he ended his life]. 
  • After necessary counselling, the priest says the Prayer of Absolution and he draws the sign of cross on the forehead (in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Only through the prayer of Absolution, the forgiveness of God is sacramentally bestowed upon the repentant sinner.  
  • After the confession is over, spend some time to pray to God, to help to practice all the exercises, which the father confessor has said. Pray to God for His Grace and to give you strength to follow the path of sinlessness.
  • Be mindful to keep all the instructions, drills and bits of advises so that so that you may practice accordingly.

At the time of His Second Coming, the angels, radiant with joy, singing hymns and opening the heavens will receive those who truly repent and live in accordance with the teachings of Christ. And you will be led to the bosom of the Father, to eternal life and to the kingdom of God. However, this sacrament is complete only when we receive the Holy Eucharist.


As a preparation for this sacramental confession and to help one to examine one’s conscience before going for confession, the following questions are sometimes helpful for self-examination.

Anyone preparing for confession must ask God to help him/her resolve to tell all his/her sins. A penitent should prepare for confession and collect his thoughts regarding his sins at least a day before confession. The most valuable thing in the eyes of God is the confession of the sin, which weighs most on the conscience. While asking these questions, it is better to find out the root causes and classify them. This will help in fighting against them effectively. It is also beneficial to recollect the circumstances that led us to sin and also how frequently we had been falling a victim to it.

Sins Against God

  • Do you pray to God in the morning and evening, before and after meals?
  • During prayer have you allowed your thoughts to wander?
  • Have you rushed or gabbled your prayers or when reading in church?
  • Do you read the Scriptures daily and do you read other spiritual writings regularly?
  • Have you read books whose contents are not Orthodox or even anti-Orthodox, or that is spiritually damaging?
  • Have you pronounced the name of God without reverence or joking?
  • Have you asked God’s help before starting every activity?
  • Have you made the sign of the Cross carelessly, thoughtlessly?
  • Have you sworn? Have you murmured against God?
  • Have you sinned by forgetting God?
  • Have you been slack in attending church?
  • Have you consecrated even part of the feast days, particularly Sundays to God?
  • Have you tried your best to attend church on these days or have you spent them more sinfully than ordinary days?
  • If unable to attend church for some reason, have you nonetheless tried to devote some part of these days to prayer and spiritual reading?
  • Have you joined with people not of the Faith in prayer, or attended their worship services?
  • Have you kept the fasts and spend Lenten days as special opportunities to be in communion with God and practice self control?
  • Have you behaved irreverently in church, or before the clergy or hierarchy?
  • Have you laughed or talked in church, or moved about unnecessarily, thus also distracting other people from prayer?
  • Have you dressed to show off and in a becoming manner when in church?
  • Do you spend too much on your own expenses and how much money do you give to God?
  • Have you tried to pay reverent attention to the readings, hymns, and prayers in church?
  • Have you tried to during worship services, crossing and bowing yourself, etc., or have you rather simply stood and daydreaming?
  • Have you prepared for the services beforehand, looking up the Scriptural readings, making sure you have the texts to follow the service etc., especially if the service will be in a language you do not readily understand?
  • Do you receive Holy Communion as frequently as possible?
  • Have you ever, left church after the Divine Services and particularly after receiving the Holy Mysteries and immediately engaged in light talk and thus forgotten the blessings and graces you have received?
  • Have you been ashamed of your Faith or the sign of the Cross in the presence of others?
  • Have you made a show of your piety?
  • Have you used your Orthodox Faith or its teachings merely to browbeat others or belittle them?
  • Have you used it as a shield or excuse for your own inadequacies rather than humbling yourself?
  • Have you believed in dreams, fortune telling, astrology, signs and other superstitions?
  • Are you conscious of God’s mercies and blessings? Do you realise that all that I have is from God? Do you give thanks to the Lord for all things?
  • Have you ever, doubted God’s providence concerning yourself?
  • Are you conscious of your dependence on God for His guidance and strength?
  • Do you at least try to perceive His purpose in all the things that come upon you?
  • Do you pray for the people of God, those who minister in holy things and those who serve the country?
  • Have you wished to conceal your discipleship for any reason? How far have you cared to bring others to God? 

 Sins Against Others

  • Do you respect and obey your parents? Do you obey in the Lord, your teachers, elders and spiritual leaders?
  • Have you offended them by rudeness or contradiction? (These two apply also to priests, superiors, teachers and elders.)
  • Have you insulted anyone?
  • Have you quarreled or fought with anyone? Have you hit anyone?
  • Are you always respectful to old people?
  • Are you ever angry, bad tempered or irritable?
  • Have you called anyone names? Do you use foul language?
  • Have you derided any that are disabled, poor, old or in some way disadvantaged?
  • Have you entertained bad feelings, ill will or hatred against anyone?
  • Have you forgiven those who have offended you?
  • Have you asked forgiveness from those whom you have offended?
  • Are you at peace with everyone? Do you despise or belittle others?
  • Have you left the needy without help when you could have helped?
  • Have you attended the sick or elderly when they have asked you to do so?
  • Have you shown kindness and attention to all, remembering that God is expecting just such an attitude from you? Do you have real concern for the lonely and poor?
  • Have you hit animals without a cause or been cruel to them, or neglectful of those in your care?
  • Have you stolen anything? Have you taken or used other people’s things without asking?
  • Have you kept money or things that were lent you without returning them?
  • Have you wasted your employers’ time or resources? Have you taken things from work for your own use, used the firm’s phone or other facilities for your own purposes without permission or repayment?
  • Are you obstinate, and do you always try to have your own way?
  • Have you been inconsiderate of other people’s feelings? Have you excelled in simple kindness?
  • Have you tried to have your revenge against those who have offended you?
  • Have you harboured resentment? Have you deceived people?
  • Have you gossiped?
  • Have you a secret longing to be first? Do you feel unhappy if you are not praised?
  • Have you told untruths?
  • Have you judged and condemned others?
  • Have you taken pains before approaching for confession to be reconciled with all?

 Sins Against Yourself

  • Have you been proud? Do you boast of your abilities, achievements, family, connections or riches?
  • Do you consider yourself worthy before God? Do you give glory to God as the source of all blessings?
  • Are you vain, ambitious? Do you try to win praise and glory or blow your own trumpet?
  • Do you bear it easily when you are blamed, scolded or treated unjustly? Do you think too much about your looks, outward appearance and the impression you make?
  • Have you sinned in thought, word or deed, by a look or glance, or in any other way against the seventh commandment?
  • Have you envied anyone anything? Have you been over-sensitive?
  • Have you been lazy? Have you done your duties heartily?
  • Have you wasted your time, energy or abilities in things that do not profit the soul?
  • Have you become obsessive about anything? Have you been despondent or listless?
  • Have you had thoughts of committing suicide?
  • Have you brought a curse on yourself or others or ill-wished them, being impatient?
  • Have you a weakness for alcohol? Have you drunk too much, or become dependent on drink?
  • Have you taken drugs, other than necessary medicines? Have you smoked?
  • Have you watched television too much or indiscriminately? Have you given yourself up to any other similar pastime which wastes your time and energy and might have harmed you?
  • Have you been greedy, either with regard to food or to possessions?
  • Have you indulged in comfort-eating? Have you become accustomed to eating between meals?
  • Have you been picky about your food, or wasteful of foods, forgetting that so many people are without proper nourishment? Have you been extravagant? Have you been wasteful?
  • Do you care for and seek first the salvation of your soul, the spiritual life and the kingdom of God, or have you put earthly considerations in the first place?
  • Is there any other sin, which burdens your conscience, or which you are ashamed to tell?


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *