“Confess your sins to each other and pray for
each other so that you may be healed.”
Thoughts… I don’t think James is promoting the idea that you stand up in front of the congregation the next time you’re in church and blurt out all your sins from the past week—bad words, dirty thoughts, rotten attitudes and dark deeds. While that might be quite entertaining to the rest of the folks sitting in the pews, it probably wouldn’t have the intended results James had in mind.
I suspect James is speaking of being in accountable relationships, perhaps a small group of some kind where the conditions have been cultivated for redemptive confession to take place. That’s why I am a firm believer that every Christian needs a small group of two to four (perhaps a few more, but no more that eight) where relationships have developed enough that this kind of open sharing can take place.
That kind of relationship does not develop overnight. It takes time. It takes a track record of confidentiality. It takes the absolute certainly that your fellow group members have your back. It must be a safe place. It has to be a group where you know that the others have your best interests in mind. And it must be the kind of experience where you have given your spiritual partners permission to look deeply into your soul, ask you penetrating questions, and hold your feet to the fire for your spiritual walk.
Do you have a group like that? If you don’t, ask God to bring people into your life with whom you can cultivate that kind of healing community. Then do the hard work of cultivating openness and accountability with them. I have done that now for years, and would not even begin to think of doing life any other way. It is one of the activities of my week that keeps me spiritually grounded.
They (whoever “they” are) say that confession is good for the soul. That’s true. But it’s good for the whole, too…the whole person. Confession and repentance will lead not only to cleansing of your heart, it will bring release to your mind and perhaps be the catalyst that speeds healing to your body.
“If you have sinned, you should tell each other what you
have done. Then you can pray for one another and
be healed. The prayer of an innocent person
is powerful, and it can help a lot.”
(James 1:16, CEV)
Prayer… Lord, thank you for the people that you have brought into my life who are not afraid to look me in the eye and ask me penetrating questions about the condition of my heart. Give them constant courage, deeper insight, and an overflow of grace. I recognize before you in this moment that I cannot live a healthy spiritual life without that—and them.
One More Thing… “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” —Augustine