In thinking back about the post I did for Friday of last week (praying for the healing of those in deep despair with the great blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26), I remembered another applicable scripture: “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16, NIV)
But we sometimes forget the line immediately preceding the above quote from James: “[C]onfess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” It reads as though confessing our sins to each other is a prerequisite to a prayer for healing.
We may find it easier to confess our sins to God than to each other. When we do confess sins to God or others, it’s often a general confession.
But to me, the confession written about in James is meant to be one of specificity — naming the sins we’ve committed — to each other. A righteous person isn’t someone who holds things back. He or she is honest and humble. There’s no pretending. Remember, that’s what the Pharisees did.
To be righteous, we must confess our sins to each other. Such a confession will surely have a cleaning effect and cause our prayers to be “powerful and effective.”
But confessing our sins to each other is hard. It requires an atmosphere of profound trust among our sisters and brothers. It harkens back to the earliest Christians. In Acts 2, we’re told that they had all things in common, ate together daily, and shared what they had with glad and sincere hearts. They lived every day in an environment of trust.
After 2,000+ years, it’s not like that any more. But our prayers for healing those in despair can still be powerful and effective–if we prepare for such prayers–if confess our sins to each other–if we trust each other.