Confession and the prayer of faith

The Verse of the Day for May 6, 2018 brings to mind the power of prayer recorded in James 5:16 in the New Living Translation:

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

In examining the context of the passage, we find another reference to forgiveness of sins and healing is found in the powerful prayer of faith expressed in James 5:13-16:

13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Chapter 4 of Not Just a Survivor—More than a Conqueror, my forthcoming book, speaks of the power of prayer, and Chapter 5 discusses faith as a critical component in a believer’s life. This passage speaks of the power of the prayer of faith. When two believers are in agreement in their prayer requests, those petitions are answered, as Jesus Christ declared in Matthew 18:19:

Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

There is great power in agreement. Being in agreement goes beyond simply making the same request verbally, but those who are praying are first of all standing together in righteousness, being in right standing with God and with one another. This passage concludes in recognizing that those whom God has declared righteous offer prayers of great power that produce wonderful results.

Open confession is good . . . for the soul and more”

In response to the Scottish proverb “Open confession is good for the soul,” Jeffrey E. Miller indicates “. . . it is not merely therapeutic; it is God’s prerequisite for forgiveness.” The Psalmist illustrates the sinful nature of all humanity and God’s willingness to forgive:

Psalm 32:5:

I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Miller identifies the bridge between our sin and God’s forgiveness as “confession.” We also note the same connection expressed in 1 John 1:9:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The context for 1 John chapter 1 is fellowship with God and with fellow believers, involving communion or oneness, harmony. In Acts the believers of the early Church were said to be “of one heart and one mind.” Having this close fellowship with God and with one another is God’s desire for His people expressed in verses 6-10 beginning with the conditional clause “if we” followed by a verb: “If we say…, if we walk…, if we say…, if we confess…, if we say….” These expressions establish the conditions which if met on our part, will result in a corresponding action on God’s part. These two parts of the conditional sentences are especially noted in 1 John 1:9. If we do our part, which is confess our sins, our faithful and just God will do His part, which is “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

What does it mean to confess our sins to him? The phrase is also translated . . .”to confess our trespasses . . . our offenses . . . our sins.” To confess is to say with one’s mouth. With our mouths we acknowledge our shortcomings, our misdeeds, our sins of omission and sins of commission. We acknowledge that in far too many instances we have missed the mark and fallen short.

God’s ultimate desire is for His creation to stand before Him in righteousness, in right standing before Him without any sense of sin, guilt, or condemnation. Correspondingly, within the human heart is a deep yearning to “get it right,” to be all right with God and with one another. Confessing with our mouths our sins to God and to one another positions us to be where God wants us to be and where we want to be.

In thinking about “confession” as a bridge between our unrighteousness and the righteousness of God, one particular confession also comes to mind.

Romans 10:9-10

9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

This open, honest confession from the heart is not only good for the soul, but a person’s whole spirit and soul and body are eternally transformed by that confession.

The accompanying video features the scripture song “You Should Pray” based on James 5:13-16 (NLT):

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