Having found a silent place and being alone, sit down and meditate on your life, recall to mind all sins that you have committed from your youth on, those you have confessed, and those left unconfessed. Having brought back to mind all from the depth of your heart, sigh, beat your breast, and if this is possible, weep.
Stand up and fall on your knees; raise your mind from the earth to the Throne of God’s Grace, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim. There, having seen God with eyes of true vision, seated on a high exalted Throne, regarding your appeal, foreseeing all your ways and attentive to what you want to say, fall down at His most merciful feet, and with fear begin to speak thus to Him:
“O Most Gracious God, the source of all goodness, infinitely merciful, Creator, Redeemer, and my Saviour. To Thee, Who guides the deepest mysteries of the universe, Who doth test hearts, I confess my sins and bring before Thy All-Seeing Eye to the hearing of all Thy Angels and Archangels my evil deeds. I have sinned, O my Lord and Creator,” (so and so). Here mention all your sins with your lips in detail, as if whispering into the ear of God, with shame, with shamefulness of thy face, with your heart trembling with fear and saying with tears: “so and so I have brought Thee sorrow, O my Lord.” Having completed your confession of sins, say the following:
“These are my wounds, my sores, my defilement, O most merciful Healer, this is my heavy burden, O gracious Lord, this is my shame and nakedness, O most patient Judge.
By these deeds of mine, I have saddened, angered, and irritated Thy goodness; with these I have besmirched Thy image, and Thy Holy Spirit I have offended, and my Guardian Angel I have driven away from myself; with these Thy most precious Blood shed for me, I have trampled upon and considered as nothing; with these I ruined the beauty of my soul and denuded Thy Grace, and with these I have desecrated the Church, which Thou hast bought with Thy Blood, corrupting my whole body, making members of my body to commit fornication, defiling my soul with sinful, blasphemous, proud, wicked lecherous thoughts.
By voluntarily allowing and taking pleasure in them, by these I brought joy to the demons, tears to angels and death to my soul with sinful, blasphemous, proud, wicked, lecherous thoughts. hand of torpor and sealed with stones of mercilessness.
These, O Lord, are my trespasses, which have gone over my head, outnumbered the hairs of my head and the grains of sand in the sea. Confessing these I reveal, condemn, judge and blame myself, not only for these which I remember, but also for those I do not remember and do not understand to be sinful, and which I do not now know how to confess, all these I place before the immensity of Thy mercy, most merciful and gracious God.
After so grave and so many of my shameful deeds, after so great a confusion of my mind and insanity, after so many terrible falls and unfeelingness, having barely come to myself and from the depth of despair, looking at Thy wonderful mercy unconquered by all the sins of mankind, and acknowledging that Thou dost not want the death of the sinner but are mercifully awaiting his conversion and for the special sake of the sinner Thou hast unsparingly spilled Thy Blood merely to call him to repentance.
Having comprehended this, I a sinner, having surpassed the sins of the whole world, the second devil by my bad deeds, an imitator of Judas, a co-crucifier, I damned and impious, an unlimited sea of abominations, a bottomless abyss of uncleanliness, I nasty one, defiled doer of all evil, run towards Thee and fall down before Thee, most merciful and gracious One, with my heavy ladened heart, in repentance, I cry to Thee:
I have sinned, O Father, before Thee and Heaven; I have sinned and broken Thy Commandments; I have sinned as no one else has. I am not worthy to be called Thy son; I am not worthy to look up and see the heights of Heaven; I am not worthy to part my lips before Thee, I who until now have been Thine enemy. But I pray to Thy grace, and I bring my prayers to Thy benignity: Have mercy upon me, O God by Thy loving-kindness, by the multitude of Thy tender mercies, wash away my transgressions. Have mercy upon me, forgive and cleanse, for it is only from Thee that one can expect cleansing.
Lord, if Thou desirest, Thou canst cleanse me. I know Thou dost wish all to be saved. Save then me also, Thou canst if Thou wishest to condescend in Thy mercy to me, O Lord, remember Thy ancient favors and bounties and forgive my sins, do not remember my evil deeds, do not enter into judgment upon them with Thy servant, neither repay me according to my deeds, nor condemn me with Thy severity, nor punish me with Thy wrath.
Open before me the doors of Thy goodness, open before me the doors of repentance, and in repentance accept me, and restore me to reason, raise me, the fallen one, seek out for me, the erring one, and accept me, the lost one, heal me, the wounded one, and resurrect me, who am dead.
Lord God Almighty, draw me back, show Thy Countenance to me and I will be saved; with Thy glory enlighten Thy servant. How long willst Thou forget me, O Lord, forever? How long willst Thou hide Thy countenance from me? Turn Thy face from my sins, do not turn Thy Countenance away from me for I grieve. Hear me, O Lord, soon.
I know that I am unworthy of Thy love and mercy, but am only worthy of all the punishment which hell has; I am worthy of the unrelentless worm, the gnashing of teeth, the infernal darkness, the unquenchable fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels. I am worthy of Tartar, before which Satan himself trembles.
But as great as Thy greatness is, so also is Thy mercy, and there is no sin which can overcome Thy loving-kindness to men.
For this reason, I do not despair but depend upon the inexhaustible, abundant grace that continuously is descending upon all of us and Thy ineffable kindness; I depend upon Thee, O Lord, and place my hope in Thee, that I may not be shamed forever.
Thou art my hope, O Lord, and such hope is never put to shame. Do not put me to shame, O Lord, on the terrible Judgment Day before the countless heavenly host and all the Saints.
I am most profoundly sorry for having angered Thee, my Creator, I have brought sorrow to Thine eternal goodness by my wickedness, and Thee Whom I should always have loved and kept Thy Commandments, Thee I have wounded with innumerable sins as if I had hated Thee. Thee Whom I should have desired with my whole heart, I barely thought of and neglected, Thee Whom I should have enjoyed with sweetness, Thee I have brought sorrow and abandoned; to Thee I should have clung, Thee I have torn away from, Thee alone for Whom I should have lived, towards Thee I became as one dead, and I live for sin to fulfill my passions and desires.
He Whom I should have feared and revered, Him have I insulted and dishonored in my younger brethren and myself, defiling myself completely in deed, word and thought. He to Whom I should have given thanks and praise constantly, remaining with Him, Him I repulsed and ran away on the paths of corruption, and was lazy to open my lips to praise His Holy Name.
O Lord my Desire, O my God most merciful, do not be angry with me, a sinner, to the last. Now, all that I most painfully regret and never will cease to regret.
Oh, that I may never again wound Thee, my Lord. Oh, that I may be the first among the dead rather than to anger Thee, my gracious Lord God.
In vain was I born, in vain was I brought up, and do I live till now in vain, only to bring Thee pain and sorrow?
May my heart now be broken with sorrow; may the hardness of my heart now fall apart and be crushed in regretfulness, so that I may wither completely as wax by inner fire: and all this because I have angered Thee, as I have lost my God, fell away from His grace, insulted His goodness, drew away from His love, cut myself from His glory, cast from His merciful presence. May mine eyes emit a water’s outlet day and night, I have not kept Thy Law, I have abundantly failed and abundantly sinned against Thee.
My heart is saddened by this and does not trepidate as much before pain or wanes as much in weakness from the falling away of heavenly blessings as from my having angered Thee, Who art All Goodness, All Sweetness, All-Loving, All to be desired, and over this alone I shall never cease being sorry, now and forever.
May my life pass away in sickness and my years in sighs, may my soul be weakened with sickness and may my bones be withered over this, that I have brought so much sorrow to my God, my Creator, my Lord, my Redeemer.
And what will I do? I know that Thou art good, that Thou art merciful, my Redeemer, so merciful that Thou hast not spared Thy own life, and didst give Thy life for us sinners, and that Thou dost not treat us according to our trespasses, nor for our sins dost Thou punish us.
This shall I do, I shall fall down before Thy Feet, and bow and cry before Thee, my Lord, Who hast created me.
I am an abyss of sins, and I plunge myself into the abyss of Thy infinite mercy, my God, and pray Thee, lead me towards true repentance and enliven me who am dead and of stony heart. Thou didst accept many sinners who repented: David, Mannaseah, Josea, the publican, the harlot, the prodigal son, Peter, Paul, Fotinia, Theis, Pelagiya, Mary of Egypt, do not reject me who have surpassed all these in my sins; for Thou came to call not the righteous, but sinners unto repentance.
Call me also, who am more sinful than all others. Even if I have done nothing good before Thee, but do Thou grant me according to Thy Grace, that I may begin to do that which is good. And make me worthy, O Lord, to love Thee, as once I loved that very sin, that I may serve Thee without laziness, as once I served the devil, the flatterer. That I may serve Thee with special zeal, my Lord God Jesus Christ, all the days of my life if Thou wilt grant me Thy Grace and help.
In truth, I marvel at Thy great patience, O most merciful One, that during the time I committed sins, Thou didst not judge me according to Thy righteous judgment, nor hadst Thou warned me with Thy anger, nor cut me off with Thy wrath, nor from on high Thou didst not strike me dead as with lightning, nor hadst ordered to the earth to open and for me to be lead alive into hell, and neither didst Thou permit me to be ravaged by sudden death.
And when I marveled much at this, I realized how unlimited is Thy mercy in awaiting my repentance and the transformation of my sinful life, leaving we without punishment, that I may recover my sense and come to a feeling of my iniquity and abandon my evil beginnings.
This I understood, and with repentance, I drew towards Thee, not I myself, but Thou hast guided and led me towards Thyself. And for what purpose Thou hast done this, and what led Thee towards such mercy, and what need there is that Thou shouldst call me?
I do not know. This only do I know, that I am a Sinner and without excuse and have been Thine enemy until now, and am yet unchanged, but in as much as Thou Thyself hast called me and led me before Thee, enlighten my mind, open my lips, teach me what I should say before Thee, and cleanse me of my iniquities, and abominations, sprinkle me with the hyssop of Thy mercy, make me whiter than snow, that I may not stand before Thee in abomination and defilement.
It would have been far better for me to be hidden somewhere in the dark depths of the earth than to stand before Thy great inaccessible Glory, in such shame, in such shameful nakedness, standing defiled with all my bad sins and in all my hideousness before the eyes of the Seraphim and Cherubim, angels, in Thy presence. But there is no place that can hide me before Thy most luminous eyes, more bright than the sun.
I marvel and am perplexed by this, that Thou dost not abhor having permitted me, with such abominable iniquities, to stand before Thee and boldly, more than that, impudently to speak to Thee.
How canst Thou not abhor looking upon my impure heart and the abomination of my soul? Why do not Thy representatives immediately forbid me with fiery repulse and drive me from Thy Countenance? Why don’t they, being abhorred with me, not cast me tied into the darkness of hell?
But Thou being graceful and good, do not desire this to happen. Great indeed, very great is Thy mercy, far above the heavens, deeper than the most deep abyss of hell, wider than all the earth and sea in Thy goodness which dost not desire me to perish but awaiteth my conversion, and rejoiceth in the repentance of a sinner.
Great is Thy mercy, O Lord, as Thou dost bear one in patience who have promised Thee to repent and again have fallen far, even lower than before. Often have I promised to repent and by oath have I declared this, yet I, a passionate sinner, have lied.
I repent in trepidation that Thou willst cut me off. And an hour later I sin again, Thou dost once again show mercy towards me and dost not destroy me with my sins. Glory to Thy great long-suffering patience, glory to Thy mercy, glory to Thy goodness, glory to Thy immeasurable kindness, glory to the great multitude of Thy graciousness, glory to Thy merciful Countenance. Standing before Thee, my Lord God, I bring Thee my will and my intention resting on a hope of receiving help from Thee in my undertaking, from this day forth, from this hour, from this very instant — to reform my evil and damned life with all my strength, and grieve over my past sins unto my death, and with Thy help to guard myself from all such dangers.
Thou knowest, my Lord, that I hate my despicable deeds and myself, and because of them I hate my sinful life, and no longer do I wish to anger Thee with them, my good God. Only, O Lord, help Thou me; without Thy Almighty help and grace, I can in no way overcome my evil deeds and sinful habit, and can not do a single good thing, without Thee I can do nothing. I have the desire to repent; if Thou willst help me Thou canst cleanse me, Lord; help me and I shall be saved.
I believe Lord in Thy goodness, help my disbelief. I believe that Thou art near to all who call upon Thee sincerely.
Truly, truly, truly do I wish with all my heart to come to repentance to Thee, my God. Lord God, hear and help me; Lord, strive to help me”.
After this, having stood up, confirm thyself in hope in the Lord, and meditating on His great goodness and mercy, read the 102nd Psalm that your soul may find consolation:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name”, etc.
If it should be impossible for you to keep in your memory all these words, then put them into your mind as brief statements, thus:
1. I confess to God all my sins
2. I consider myself unworthy of His mercy, but only worthy of eternal punishment.
3. Nevertheless, I do not despair,
4. Humbly I ask forgiveness.
5. I firmly desire to change my life.
6. I believe undoubtedly, that my sins will be forgiven.
Source: Orthodox Life Magazine, 1960, Vol 6, Jordanville