“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16
I have been thinking lately on accountability. I remember in college being convicted of the above verse knowing God wanted me to confess sins to some trusted friends. After some time wrestling with God, I followed through and made my confession, officially entering into the realm of accountability. Now someone else besides me and God knew my deepest darkest.
The problem I had with this experience was that it did not end my fallings or sin. I still struggled and I still fell. Beyond that, I did not start moving to get better.
Why do I need to bear my pain and shame to someone else if I do not get the healing promised here?
I continued in my Christian walk with the commitment to accountability desiring freedom from sin and a closer walk with God. We would come up with great questions to ask each other to help cultivate openness and exposure of sin. Always ending with the penetrating question, “Did you just lie to me?”
Unfortunately, these times together were just a recap of how well we were or were not doing. Knowing we will be held accountable by someone else had some merit, but in the end the fruit was not healing.
As I have been rethinking accountability recently, a blatant truth just hit me about what I was not experiencing in these accountability groups. What does James 5:16 say? We are not only to confess our sins, but the requirement is also to pray for each other. It is the prayer of a righteous man that is powerful and effective; not the confession. How much more quickly would I have found the healing if I realized this sooner?
Hey brother, I enjoyed your post. It reminded me of a great chapter on the discipline of confession in Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline which I used a while back in a group study. Highly recommended!
It has been a long time since I read that book, but I remember enjoying it. I’ll check back over that chapter. Foster also had a devotional of Christian classics he pulled together that was wonderful.
Michael, thanks for recommending Celebration of Discipline. It took me to the last page of the chapter to see his connection to prayer, but it was very good. He stressed the importance of the body of Christ as the physical representation of Christ’s forgiveness. That wasn’t the point of what I wrote, but it is a needed point to make.