A prayer of confession for Yom Kippur

I came across this prayer in Philip Goodman’s “The Yom Kippur Anthology.” I read it aloud on Yom Kippur and barely got through it because I was crying so hard. It is quite a lengthy prayer, but has a way of putting us face to face with our sin, and the seriousness of it. I hope this prayer will be a blessing and help to you as you spend time in confession on Yom Kippur. I encourage you to read Philip’s other anthologies on the feast days as well. They are full of inspiration, thought provoking stories, history, and even some read-alouds for children.

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The Confession

pp. 56-59 of The Yom Kippur Anthology, by Philip Goodman. Translated by Ben Zion Bokser

Our God and God of our fathers, pardon our sins on this Day of Atonement. Let our sins and transgressions be removed from Thy sight. As Thou didst promise: It is I who erases your transgressions, for Mine own sake, and I will recall your sins. And Thou didst further promise: I have blotted out your transgressions and they are gone, as a cloud, and your sins, as a mist; return unto Me, for I have redeemed you. And it is further promised: On this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you; of all your sins you shall be cleansed before the Lord. Make us holy through Thy commandments and grant that we may have a portion among those who devote themselves to Thy Torah. Satisfy us with Thy goodness, and cause us to rejoice in Thy deliverance. And purify our hearts that we may serve Thee in truth. Thou art He who forgives Israel and pardons the community of Yeshurun in every generation. We have no other King to grant us forgiveness and pardon.

Praised be Thou, O Lord, who forgives and pardons our sins and the sins of the household of Israel, who cancels out our wrongdoings year by year. Thou King over all the earth sanctifieth Israel and the Day of Atonement….

We have offended, we have strayed, we have robbed, we have spoken basely;

We have been devious, mean, arrogant, violent, false;

We have counseled evil, we have deceived, we have scoffed;

We have been rebellious, we have provoked, we have disobeyed, we have been impulsive, we have been contemptuous, we have been oppressive, we have been obstinate;

We have been insolent, destructive, dishonorable, misleading.

We have turned away from Thy goodly commandments and judgments; and now we face the consequences of our folly. Thou art just in all that has come upon us. Thou hast acted in accordance with the truth, but we have done evil.

What can we tell thee, O Thou who abidest in eternity, what can we tell Thee, Thou who reignest in the endless spaces of the universe? All things hidden as all things open, Thou knowest everything.

Thou knowest the mysteries of the universe, and the things hidden from mortal eyes. Thou searchest out our innermost secrets; Thou knowest the unspoken meditations of the heart. Nothing is hidden from Thee, nothing is veiled from Thine eyes.

And now, O our God and God of our fathers, may it be Thy will to forgive all our sins, to pardon all our iniquities, and to grant us atonement for all our transgressions.

For the sin we committed before Thee under compulsion or of our own free will,

For the sin we committed before Thee by stubbornness of heart,

For the sin we committed before Thee in ignorance,

For the sin we committed before Thee with the utterance of our lips,

For the sin we committed before Thee by unchastity,

For the sin we committed before Thee openly or secretly,

For the sin we committed before Thee consciously and deceitfully,

For the sin we committed before Thee by word of mouth,

For the sin we committed before Thee by deceiving a neighbor,

For the sin we committed before Thee in the meditation of the heart,

For the sin we committed before Thee by licentiousness,

For the sin we committed before Thee by insincere confessions,

For the sin we committed before Thee by disrespect for parents and teachers,

For the sin we committed before Thee deliberately or unintentionally,

For the sin we committed before Thee by violence,

For the sin we committed before Thee by defaming Thy name,

For the sin we committed before Thee by unclean lips,

For the sin we committed before Thee by foolish speech,

For the sin we committed before Thee by evil passions,

For the sin we committed before Thee knowingly or unknowingly,

For all these, O God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

For the sin we committed before Thee by deception and falsehood,

For the sin we committed before Thee by bribery,

For the sin we committed before Thee by mocking,

For the sin we committed before Thee by slander,

For the sin we committed before Thee in our business dealings,

For the sin we committed before Thee in eating and drinking,

For the sin we committed before Thee by usury,

For the sin we committed before Thee by arrogance,

For the sin we committed before Thee by gossiping,

For the sin we committed before Thee by wanton looks,

For the sin we committed before Thee by haughty eyes,

For the sin we committed before Thee by insolence,

For all these, O God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

For the sin we committed before Thee by casting off the yoke of Thy Torah,

For the sin we committed before Thee by false judgments,

For the sin we committed before Thee by betraying a neighbor,

For the sin we committed before Thee by envy,

For the sin we committed before Thee by levity,

For the sin we committed before Thee by being obstinate,

For the sin we committed before Thee by rushing to do evil,

For the sin we committed before Thee by talebearing,

For the sin we committed before Thee by false oaths,

For the sin we committed before Thee by unjust hatreds,

For the sin we committed before Thee by a breach of trust,

For the sin we committed before Thee by confusion of mind,

For all these, O God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement….

O my God, before I was created I was nothing, and now that I have been created, what am I? In life I am dust, and more so when I fall prey to death. When I measure my life in Thy presence, I am confused and I am ashamed. Help me, O God and God of my fathers, to steer clear of sin. And as for my past sins, purge me of them in Thy great mercy, but, I pray, not through severe and painful disease.

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Scriptures of Confession

Book of Jonah

Book of Hosea

Psalm 51

Daniel 9:1-19

You may also find this post on repentance helpful.

What an amazing thought that through the work of Yeshua we have lasting forgiveness for our sins. My prayer is that we never take this blessing lightly. Yom Kippur is an opportunity to search our hearts once again for anything that would displease our Heavenly Father. It can be painful to take this piercing look at our own hearts and intents. But, it is far better to seek out sin and rebellion and root it out ourselves, than to let it take root and wait for YHVH Himself to pull it out. Whether you use this prayer of confession, or prayers right from Scripture, or use your own words, I pray that you use Yom Kippur (and every day) wisely to present yourself as a clean vessel to your Creator.


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