I was talking wiith Tony about this last night.
I have never been to confession because my GOA parish does not really do it. Just once a year before Lent.
And as I said to Tony, I have thought about it -- but I don't feel that I know HOW to do it (confess to a priest). What should I confess to? If it's the normal stuff that every man/woman goes through every week, then I confess those shortcoming in my prayers in the morning.
I am not sure how to begin.
I'm in the GOA as well. So maybe I can help a little. (then again maybe not..lol)
I was nervous before my first confession too. Mainly because I feared what would my priest think of me afterwards after hearing all these sins I had commited. But you know what, that part doesn't bother me now. Its truly amazing how God gives His priests the grace to leave what is said in Confession in Confession. Literally 1 minute afterwards he was talking to me like normal.
As for the Greek practice, I personally think its the best of all the ones I've read about. (though they are all similar as they are all derived from the same source, Christ Himself)
In the GOA, Confession is like a service. You go in, and stand before the Icon of Christ which is on the Iconostasion. The priest will stand next to you, on your left and you'll go through the service part of it, which has a few litanies where YOU respond 'Lord have mercy'...then you will read Psalm 50 (51), then the priest will tell you something to the effect to 'now confess your sins. You are not confessing them to me, but to God, I am but an unworthy witness'...you then confess your sins just as you would in your private prayers.
The priest will just stand silently...you wont even notice he's there unless you look. After you confess the priest prays the absolution, will bless you with the hand cross that sits on the altar and thats about it.
The way my priest explains it is to not go into every detail. You dont have to say, "I lied 73 times" and then state all 73 times you lied going into long dialogues on how you lied and why. (not that you would lie 73 times but you get the idea..lol!)
Same with all sins...I mean if I lust I dont go into the sordid details of who I lusted after, what thoughts I had, what images I thought of while lusting etc. I just say "I have lusted, and I've had impure thoughts and sinful images in my mind about women"....
Definitely confess your sins in your private prayers every night. Even immediately after you commit them if possible. But this private confession is still not the Mystery. It may impart grace but not the same way the Holy Mystery does.
The Mystery of Holy Confession will give you a different kind of grace to overcome your sins unlike private confession can. There were certain sins (on in particular) that I could not overcome before my first Confession. And after my first Confession I didn't notice a difference...at first. But after a couple months, I looked back and say tha I no longer was controlled by this sin. (it was lust) I still struggle with it, but it doesn't haunt me on a moment to moment basis like it once did. I dont know HOW this works..all I know is that it does work. And thank God it does...because it's liberating and freeing. I guess thats what Christ meant by saying when He sets us free we are free indeed.
Protestants see Confession as a work, but its not. It as GIFT. An awesome gift.
As for preparing, you could just start with the 10 Commandments and review them, the night, or the week before Confession. The site Jonathan posted is good. The www.goarch.org
site has one too. http://www.goarch.org/print/en/ourfaith/article8476.asp
The Russian one is probably the more complete, but the Greek one may be best for your first Confession. And since your in the GOA it's a good 'fit'..
I hope this helps some..and I hope it wasn't to lengthy...
Oh BTW, at first I wanted to go to Confession every week, but my priest, silently discouraged me from doing so. A first I didn't understand why...but now I see that I tend to try and fight against sin harder than if I was going on a weekly basis, where I could just "get forgiven" and not really try to struggle with sin.
By the time I get in the groove I will probably end up going 4 times per year. Though I could go more often.!
Of course thats what works for me, everyone of course is different.
In Christ, Chuck