But, in confession, the universality of sin should not obscure the particularity of our offences. If we are to appreciate the wonder of God’s forgiveness, our sins need to be identified as the distinctly individual, personal and damaging transgressions they really are, and not mechanically lumped together in some ritualistic phrase at the beginning of a formal prayer. We must name them before God as we ask that they might be washed away; only in this way will we admit their seriousness and acknowledge our shame.

Raymond Brown, The Message of Nehemiah
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