Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. ~ Psalm 51:1-2,10-12
What is Confession? Answer. Confession consists of two parts: the one is, that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution or forgiveness through the pastor as of God, God's self, in no wise doubting, but firmly believing that our sins are thus forgiven before God in heaven.
What sins ought we to confess? Answer. In the presence of God we should acknowledge ourselves guilty of all manner of sins, even of those which we do not ourselves perceive; as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. But n the presence of the pastor we should confess those sins alone which we have knowledge and which we feel in our hearts.
Which are these? Answer. Here reflect in your condition, according to the Ten Commandments, namely: Whether you are a father or mother, a son or daughter, a master or mistress, a man-servant or maidservant – whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful, whether you have injured anyone by words or actions, whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted anything, or done other evil.
For Lutherans, Confession is not a sacrament, yet for Luther and other early reformers, Confession and forgiveness was very much a part of the sacramental life.
For Luther, repentance and contrition were meant to be part of the flow of daily life. We are both saint and sinner - we seek forgiveness and then we rise again each day to new life.
In worship, we confess together as a community, offering confession in the presence of each other.
But we also have a rite for individual confession as well. Both of our most recent books of worship in the Lutheran Church include them (the LBW & ELW). I encourage you to look them up next time you are in worship. There is something liberating about naming the particulars of your confession out loud to someone. Luther himself offered a form of private confession in the catechism, the particulars of which aren't quite relevant to us (they focus on masters and servants).
A Prayer by Martin Luther: Dearest God and Lord, strengthen and uphold us in your pure, precious Word through Jesus Christ our Lord, and help us to show and live our thanks with our fruits of faith to your praise and thanks forever. Amen.