A Self Account:
Proper confession accompanied with repentance and regret needs preparation; which is called self account. Be strict and accurate with yourself. Compare God’s kind and good dealings with your denial and harshness towards Him. Compare your life with the lifes of saints. Remember St. Peter’s words, “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet 4: 18). Always remind yourself that you are a sinner. All of these feelings will give you the spirit of contrition and you will feel the deep need for God’s grace.
This is the case if you are aware of your sins but sometimes we forget our sins; either because we do not give a proper self account and neglect confession for long periods of time or because we are so reluctant with our spiritual life that we lose our spiritual sensitivity, thus we sin without feeling it.
In this case, we have to pray a lot so that the Lord might clarify our sins. Plead to the Holy spirit to help you and enlighten you with His Grace, saying with St. Augustine: “My God, let me know who You are and who am I.” Our God is merciful and if you ask Him, He will grant you to remember your sins and acknowledge them. Mar Ephraim said about the Lord: “He is thirsty for the tears of a repentant person.”
If you suffer from forgetting incidents, write them down regularly so you do not forget them during confession. For more privacy, you can just write symbols to remind yourself, as you are not writing details but just reminders. After confession, tear up this paper as your sins have been wiped away.
Talk to God:
When you feel the burden of your sins and you suffer from low self-esteem, close the door of your room and talk to Jesus. Spend your night in prayers, pleadings and tears, offering repentance. Have a proper detailed confession. God knows about your sins before you have committed them, but in confession you are announcing your iniquity and feeling guilty. David the Prophet said: “When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” (Ps 32: 3-5).
In your prayer to God, talk about yourself in detail, do not just talk in plural form. This will give you a deep feeling of guilt, instead of blaming others for your sins. So, when you pray for forgiveness, you do not say; “Forgive us O Lord and remit our sins, You know O Lord that we are weak” but rather say: “Forgive me My Lord and remit my sins, You know I am a weak sinner and frequently fall.” How sweet and acceptable before God is the second statement. It also offers plenty of comfort and peace to the heart who prays it!
By H.G. Bishop Youanis