As long as I keep coming back to these verses in James, I keep finding more in them. They really are a wealth of challenges in the few sentences. Over the last couple of weeks, I've written about some of the first verses in this passage: Part 1 and Part 2. Today my thoughts come from James 5:16 which says: "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."
This verse starts with something I haven't found that we really like to do. James tells us to confess our sins to each other. Most of the time, we would rather keep our sins to ourselves. We'll confess them to God, all-though even that we sometimes do reluctantly, but we don't seem to naturally want to confess them to other people. Whether we see that as admitting weakness or to do so would breakdown our facade of being perfect or we're embarrassed by what we struggle against, we don't often confess our sins to each other. But James has a good reason for encouraging us to do so. There really is a power of sin that is broken when it's no longer a secret sin.
The idea of confessing our sins to each other is so that they can pray for us about it. Sometimes when we're in the midst of something we might not know what to pray, but when we share it with others, they are able to pray for us and that can help to make the difference in that area of our lives. Being able to pray well for each other is why we confess our sins to each other.
When confessing our sins to each other we do need to keep in mind being appropriate in what we share. To confess our sins, we don't have to give all the detail if it could cause the people listening to stumble. Share just enough for them to know how to pray for you.
The second part of this verse tells us that "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." For those of us who are disciples of Christ and have had our sinfulness replaced with Jesus' righteousness, we righteous people. That means our prayers are powerful and effective. That's an incredible truth to embrace. Our prayers have the ability to change things, because of Jesus's work on our behlaf. That should motivate us to pray.