How to Confess Sins

Three Methods:Examining your Conscience Before ConfessionConfessing to A PriestRosary Prayer

Do you seek repentance for all your sins? Do you want our Lord to forgive you for all your trespasses? While not all religions have a formal process for confessing your sins like the Roman Catholic Church, atonement is a major part of many spiritual practices. Whether you want to just get something off your chest or you want to see a priest, confessing sins is a large part of many faiths.

Method 1
Examining your Conscience Before Confession

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    Take an honest, open appraisal of your sins before confessing. Known in the church as an "examination of conscience," reflecting on your spiritual and moral life is imperative before you end up in the confessional. Make a note, either mentally or on a piece of paper, about the sins you've committed since your last confession. Pay particular attention to the ones that still feel fresh, or that you really want to confess for. To start this examination, ask two questions:
    • "In what ways did I sin?"
    • "When did I fail to do the good or right thing when I should have?"[1]
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    Think back on the sins you've committed since your last confession. You should focus on the sins most pressing on your mind. That said, nothing is too small for confessional. If it weighs on your soul, now is the time to let it out in a safe environment. Think about:
    • Insults, fights, or rudeness to loved ones.
    • Cheating, even small amounts.
    • Lying, stealing, or hurting someone for personal gain.
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    Reflect back on the good deeds you ignored, and the subtle sins you may have committed. Even if you didn't do something obviously wrong, we can all improve on the times we forgot to do something right. Think about ways you've cut corners or ignored the plights of others. Remember, while confession is about releasing your sins, it is also about becoming a better person who sins less in the future. Think about times you didn't do anything negative or positive and find ways to make those moments positive in the future.
    • Have you prayed every day? Do you feel connected to God?
    • Do you do the bare minimum for you loved ones, or do you go above and beyond?
    • Do you take the easy way out, or push yourself to be a better person and servant of God?
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    Think about the sins you've committed against yourself. This is probably the least remembered type of sin, though everyone goes through periods of it in their life. Think about the times you were filled with self-pity, they days you cheated yourself out of a life goal or happiness, and the times you abused or neglected your own well-being. You need to treat all people with love and respect -- but that has to start with yourself.
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    Ensure that you feel actual remorse for you sins. Know this: confession is not some mechanical exchange where just entering the booth immediately washes away your wrong-doing. If you don't actually feel bad about what you've done then confession means absolutely nothing. Remember, this is between you and your God -- not just you and the priest.[2]
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    Refer to the Catholic Church's guides for personal examination to help reflect. Sometimes the best way to see your flaws is to turn to an outside source. The Catholic Diocese published "sample examinations" for various groups of people. They contain useful questions, information on certain sins and current issues, and perspective on the problems you're currently facing. To start, check out their guides for:[3]

Method 2
Confessing to A Priest

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    Confide you sins in a priest, or a trusted friend, relative, or authority figure, whenever possible. Whenever you can, go to a priest for confession -- they have the knowledge and skills to help you the most. While everyone has their own special connection with God, but most Christian leaders suggest confessing sins to another. This gets the weight off your chest, provides someone to offer guidance and advice, and allows you to make things better with the help of a friend. If there is no priest around, a trusted confident will do.
    • If you've sinned against someone, you should first go and confess to them. Make things right with them and the rest will follow.
    • Confessing to another person is not a necessity -- it is only recommended. You can confess your sins alone to god as well.
    • The reasoning for confession can be found in John 5:16: "Confess your sins to one another ... that you may be healed."
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    Go to your local church and look up confession hours. You can usually find them in the church bulletin, on the door of the confessional, or by asking a priest or church staff member.
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    Begin with a sign of the cross and a brief prayer from the priest. Both of you begin with "In the name of the Father, the Son, etc..." before the priest says a few brief words. He may read a short passage, or he may say something along the lines of, "May the Lord be in your heart and help you to confess your sins with true sorrow." Once he has stopped speaking you may begin your confession.[4]
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    Start your confession by asking forgiveness. Begin by saying, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been _________ day/months since my last confession." This is considered the beginning of your actual confession.[5]
    • Don't worry if the words aren't exactly right -- asking for forgiveness and stating your last confession are the crucial parts.
    • Some people prefer the less judgmental-sounding, "Bless me Father, for I have sinned."
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    Slowly, without fear or shame, recount your sins to the priest. Do not feel like you must hold back, feel embarrassed, or lie. Nothing you say in a confession can be repeated outside of the confessional -- even if you were to threaten to murder someone (including the priest himself). The point of a confession is to unburden your soul with the help of another. This sacred bond of trust, known as the Seal of the Confessional, is there to protect you and help you freely open up.[6]
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    Make a determined inner effort to move past your sins and avoid them later in life. Determine that those sins should not be what you are or what you do, and repudiate them.Resolve in your heart or inner being that you have repented and will not return to them. This is a deeply personal moment, and one that requires strength and courage to follow through with. This, however, is why you come to confession after examining your conscience.
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    Listen to the priest's response and discuss how to move forward. He will absolve you of all your sins, and tell you how much the Lord loves you. If you need, ask questions, add small details when needed, and engage with the priest. This is a conversation, not some a car wash, and you should feel free to engage in the process and work through issues with your priest.
    • At the end of the confession, the priest gives you a "penance." This is a task or tasks that you must complete for forgiveness.
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    Carry out your penance as soon as you can. Do not put this off. Whatever the priest has assigned for you to do, get right to it while the memory and feelings of spirituality are still hot. Penance is a way to bring you closer to your sins, helping you learn from them. It is not punishment. When you start looking at it as a chance for self-improvement, the ability to complete your penance is much easier.

Rosary Prayer

Rosary in English

Rosary in Latin


  • Confession is a Sacrament in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. However, a priest or a pastor may hear from a non-Catholic too, if requested, for spiritual guidance.
  • Usually when making your Confession, the priest will ask you to pray the Act Of Contrition. It is said like this: O My God, I am heartily sorry for having Offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy Just Judgements: The Loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell. But most of all, because they Offend Thee, My God Who Are All So Good and Deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the Help Of Thy Grace to sin no more and to avoid the nearest occasion of sin. Amen.
  • Do not be afraid to confess your sins, the priests won't judge you!


  • When confessing your sins, you must confess all of them, and do not intentionally omit any sins. Otherwise, God will not forgive any of your sins.

Things You'll Need

  • A Rosary.
  • A prayer book.

Article Info

Categories: Christianity | Catholicism