Hand washing prayers

I love active sorry prayers which use a forgiveness metaphor from the Bible. This one takes the metaphor of forgiveness being like being washed clean.

All you need is a bowl of water and a towel. Take it in turns to slowly wash your hands. As you wash, either silently or out loud, say sorry to God for any thoughts, words or deeds, then dry your hands. You might also want to say sorry to the person you have wronged, especially if they are in the room!

(You might find it helpful to remind everyone that the Bible says that when we confess our sins, that is speak out the things we’ve done wrong, God is faithful and will forgive us.)


This activity prayer is part of our weekly Shabbat ritual which we do each Friday. We find it very helpful as a family to have an allocated weekly time to say sorry to each other, and our marriage has definitely benefitted from it too!


When I did this the other day with a family, one girl said, “That’s like what Mummy did when she went completely under the water”, referring to her Mum’s recent baptism. I hadn’t ever thought of it like that, but I think she’s right.


In our Shabbat meal, we say these words:

The Bible says that only those with clean hands and a pure heart can stand in God’s holy place (Psalm 24).

We wash our hands with water and ask Jesus to make our hearts clean.

Then we take it in turns to wash your hands in a bowl of water, or pass it on. As we wash our hands, we say our own sorry to God either out loud or silently, or we use these words:

I wash my hands to Messiah, the hope of glory, to serve Him only.
For me, it’s really important to make this optional. It’s not my job to decide when and for what everyone else should repent. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. We encourage, but don’t make our children join in, and certainly give visitors the option of just passing the bowl on to the next person.¬†However, given the opportunity, we’ve found that it’s often one of the most profound moments in our meal, and sometimes in our week.We also sometimes apologise to each other, another important part of family life together.
Of course you could also do this at bath time or whenever you have water handy.