A New Zealand Prayer Book / He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa

Reconciliation of a Penitent

Scripture makes it clear that whenever a sinner turns to God in penitence, forgiveness follows. In addition, to reassure the consciences of those who continue to remain troubled, and to provide a discipline which many find beneficial, the Church offers this ministry of reconciliation.

In it the priest, on behalf of the Christian community, listens to the penitent’s confession of sins and declares God’s forgiveness.

The penitent is thus enabled to express the source of guilt, and the priest then offers counsel and the assurance of reconciliation.

The priest exercises this ministry in complete confidentiality. The penitent is therefore able to confess in the assurance that the priest will not refer to the matter again, except at the penitent’s request, and under no circumstances will ever repeat to any other person what has been divulged.

A Form of Private Confession

This order may be used in church or elsewhere.
It may be varied as appropriate.


The priest and penitent prepare in silence.

Then the priest says

  Your Saviour welcomes you.
Christ came to call sinners.
Have confidence in him.

Penitent I put my trust in the mercy of God.

The priest and penitent may say together

Have mercy on me O God in your great kindness:
in the fulness of your mercy blot out my offences.
Wash away all my guilt:
and cleanse me from my sin.
Do not cast me away from your presence:
do not take your Holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your help again:
and strengthen me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways:
and sinners will turn to you again.
You desire no sacrifice, or I would give it:
but you take no delight in burnt offerings.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit:
a broken and contrite heart O God you will not despise. Psalm 51:1–2, 11–13, 16–17

The priest may say

Hear God’s word:
If we claim to be sinless,
we are self-deceived and strangers to the truth.
If we confess our sins,
God is just, and may be trusted to forgive our sins
and cleanse us from every kind of wrong. 1 John 1:8–9

Other suitable Scripture passages may be read by the priest or the penitent.

The Confession

The priest says

God be in your heart and on your lips,
that you may truly and humbly confess your sins.

The penitent may use the following form or make confession in
her/his own words.

Merciful God,
I confess that I have sinned against you and against others.
I have sinned through my own fault by thought, word and deed
in things done and left undone.
Especially I confess that I have......*
I repent;
for these and all my sins I am truly sorry,
and pray for forgiveness.
I firmly intend to make amends and seek for help.
I ask for strength to serve you in newness of life.

*   Or   Especially I confess that since my last confession I have...

The priest may give counsel to the penitent.

The Absolution

When absolution is given, the priest says

All things have been reconciled to God the creator
through the life, death and resurrection
of God’s only Son Jesus Christ,
and the Holy Spirit has been sent among us
for the forgiveness of sins.

By the authority of Christ given to the Church
I absolve you from your sins*
in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May God give you peace.

* At this point the priest may extend a hand, make the sign of the cross,
or lay hands on the penitent.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

The priest may say

Most loving God,
we thank you for your pardon and forgiveness.
By the power of your Spirit within,
enable us to overcome temptation and evil,
keep us securely in the fellowship of your Church,
and as we live daily in your presence,
grant victory, peace, and joy,
through the merits of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The priest may give this or another blessing.

May God the Father bless you,
may the Holy Spirit strengthen you in all goodness,
and the love of Christ our Saviour give you peace of mind.

The priest may add

  The Lord has set you free.

Penitent Thanks be to God.

Priest Go in peace.
Pray for me a sinner.

The penitent may make private prayers of thanksgiving and commitment.