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“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
I don’t know about you, but this kind of verse and encouragement back in the days of my youth would have sent me running for the hills! In fact, running from confession was probably one of the many things that in the early days of my marriage made it very messy.
Here’s how it typically went … My husband would say or do something that I didn’t like. The problem was, I didn’t want to acknowledge the anger that I was feeling, nor the sinful actions that accompanied my anger to anyone—least of all to him. However, my husband always knew, and often tried to coax some kind of confession out of me, only to be greeted with my “I’m fine” resistance and icy veneer.
Thankfully, God did not allow me to retreat to that frosty cave of denial and defensiveness for too terribly long. Scriptures like this one and so many others kept convicting me of my sinful tendency to hide my sin. God also used the continual example of my husband’s honesty and transparency in our marriage to remind me of this better and more Christ-honoring way.
At some point, I finally realized that my resistance to confessing my sin was keeping me unhealthy, wounded and sin-sick. God wanted so much more for me in my life and marriage than to pretend that everything was fine, when it most definitely wasn’t. Living that way only kept me imprisoned and chained to my sinful nature. You know … the one that Christ set me free from when He saved my soul!
So how exactly does confession bring healing?
One of the first ways is that confession removes all the hiding, posturing and denial that keep us from owning our sins. It humbles our hearts so that God can reign and rule in our lives, instead of keeping our security and ego front and center.
The second way God heals is through the prayers we lift up for each other. After all, how can we pray for each other, if we never know what to exactly pray for? God uses our humble and honest disclosures to open our hearts like a heart surgeon’s clamp holds the chambers of the heart open so that the doctor can work.
The third way is by seeking out and making ourselves accountable to righteous people who faithfully pray for us. Honestly, this third one applies to every godly friend we confess our sins to, since every true Christ-follower has been made righteous through Christ’s blood. So don’t feel as if you need to find someone as godly as Billy Graham or Mother Theresa to confess your sins to. The field is wide open in every Christian community!
That’s actually where I began to find healing. At first, it was a bit too scary for me to confess my sins to my husband. So, instead, I began to open up little by little with my godly girlfriends in my small group. From there, it took no time at all before I was able to humbly confess my sins with my husband—bringing healing not just to my heart, but to my marriage as well.
How often do you pursue this path toward healing in your life and relationships?
If healing is the end result, then what’s holding you back from making this your lifestyle and habit?
Dear Father, give me the courage to confess my sins, especially to my godly friends. Then use my confessions as a way for my friends to more effectively pray for me—bringing me closer to them and You as a blessed bonus. Finally, bring healing to my heart because of the sins I bring out into the open and lay before Your throne. In Jesus’ name, amen.