James 5:16 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.
A few months ago I preached on mutuality, titling it “One Another,” and I feel sure I used this verse. However, preaching on something isn’t the same as living it out! God created mankind to need each other, just as God Himself is Trinity. We are to take personal responsibility for our actions, not blaming others for the way we are, but at the same time realize that we need each other, and act accordingly. God deals with us as individuals and as groups, and we need to recognize and fulfill our place in both scenarios. This particular verse talks about confession and prayer. Those are both intensely personal activities, yet they are never in isolation. We are to confess our sins first to God, as John wrote so memorably in 1 John 1:9. However, when our sins directly involve others, we need to confess to them as well. Also, there is a powerful element of accountability in confessing sins to people whom we can see and who can see us. (God can of course see us, but until we are before the throne we can’t see Him with our natural eyes.) Likewise, it is often easier to pray in faith for someone else than it is to do so for yourself. For one thing, we are less uncertain of our own motives. It is much easier to to grasp how big God is when our focus is off of ourselves, because we are painfully aware of our own limitations. And we have the assurance here, born out by 2000 years of Church history, that such prayer brings healing. We don’t often see what would be called a medical miracle, though it does happen with far more frequency than most expect, but we do see healing, always. That healing might even be in the one praying! God does work in and through prayer, often in ways we don’t anticipate. James reminds us of the power inherent in the prayer of a righteous person. That opens up the whole area of what is righteousness, but we have to come back to the bedrock reality that our righteousness is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:30) When our faith is in Him and our repentance is up to date, we are righteous, and we can and should pray with great boldness. If we would do that more, we’d see a lot more of God’s hand at work!
This of course applies to me. It’s not much use for me personally if I preach to others and fail to apply that same truth in my own life. I have found that an “accountability partner” can be very helpful indeed in overcoming various sins. I am not to go around trumpeting my failures, but I am to be brutally honest about them to those who are close to me. I pray a great deal for others, but I am also very aware of my need for others to pray for me, just as Paul was. (Ephesians 6:19, etc.) I will not raise up a praying people, which I earnestly desire to do, without spending time in prayer myself, in public and in private. I want all the members of this church to understand and appropriate the righteousness that is theirs in Christ, so that we may rise up as a mighty army in His kingdom, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I am all too prone to be distracted by the minor bumps in the road. Thank You for what You are going to do here today. May every word and every act be as You desire and direct by Your Spirit, so that we may be transformed more and more into the likeness of of Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!