Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16
If there is one thing I have learned from our Fanning the Flame process of church revitalization, it is the importance of prayer. Prayer permeated the life of the early Christians (read the book of Acts to picture what this looked like) and it should be the foundation for every Christian congregation today. We must pray for our church leaders, and guidance to be led to the people and ministries God has planned for us. Most of all, we must pray for one another and, according to the verses from James, we should confess to one another and request prayerful intercession.
This is hard for most of us. It’s easy enough to confess in a general way, in the church service. You can do this without even thinking about the actual sins you’ve committed; and even if you do think them, nobody else has to know, right? However, the apostle James seems to be telling saying that I should actually tell another person the nasty things I’ve done (or maybe just thought) — and admit that I need prayer and healing. Pretty scary. Confessing to someone else, even a sister or brother in Christ, puts me in a vulnerable position. It means not only knowing that I’m a sinner, but admitting it to another person. What if they think less of me? What if they blab about it to somebody else? What if it means I actually have to take a real, close look at those sins myself?
Well, all of those things are possible. But to be effective witnesses, we need to get down off the self-righteous pedestal we like to stand on when we’re presenting ourselves to the world. After all, if we’re sinners, we’re going to sin, and if we could keep from sinning, we wouldn’t need Jesus. The people we want to reach with the Good News should know that our story isn’t any different from theirs.
So, my advice is, find an accountability partner or group (for me this is the Via de Cristo reunion group). Meet with them regularly. Keep everything discussed confidential. Admit your failings (in other words, ‘fess up). Ask for prayer. You’ll find that their prayers for you are powerful and effective.