“Almighty and most merciful Father;
We have erred,
and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against Thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare Thou those, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore Thou those who are penitent;
According to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake;
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of Thy holy Name.
I venture to suggest that most of them have never thought carefully enough about what the words mean, what the devices and desires of their hearts might have been. How many have taken the time to decide whether they agree with them. 'And there is no health in us' is one of the most utterly ridiculous things that you ever hear Christians saying too.
For Anglicans this General Confession is the substitute for attending confession with the priest, which let's face it, is an even more peculiar tradition.
I'm sure that the concept of confession originates from the opportunity to (effectively, if not literally) blackmail the penitent. Even if not deliberately and fraudulently demanding money, I'm sure that the tradition persuades people into being more compliant and perhaps paying a little contribution towards the cause of the church. For centuries this was literally in the form of 'indulgences', and at least that particular manifestation has stopped. Scientologists seem to take the concept even further, and I've heard stories of literal blackmail being used when people attempt to leave that particular cult.
Perhaps we need to work on a modern replacement.
Without requiring supernatural intervention and according to the law of the land, we all need to get off our knees to work constructively and enjoy life without hurting others. Sometimes we fail; sometimes we forget; but we make the best of what life we have, and we endeavour to remain positive.
Since many of us do not trust the promises of any invisible friend in the sky, for all our sakes, surely it is our duty as citizens of the world to support each other to resist the religious strangle-hold on society. Let's campaign for a rational and secular life in the name of reason and science, and not tolerate interference from those self-confessedly grovelling, miserable but penitent Christians who claim that all good works come from their particular god.